Education experts from Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln have just returned from Thailand where they are helping the government to improve the quality of teacher training.
Professor Chris Atkin, Chair in Higher Education, and Dr Smaragda Kampouri from the university’s School of Teacher Development, had a meeting with Thailand’s Education Minister, His Excellency Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin.
In the first such overseas consultancy project that BGU has undertaken, staff from Lincoln are working as consultants to the Thai government to improve initial teacher training in Thailand as part of a broader initiative to raise children and young people’s educational outcomes across the country.
“Thailand spends more on education than most other ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries, but pupils’ outcomes are consistently among the lowest,” said Professor Atkin.
“The Thai government is convinced that the key to future success for Thai pupils is by improving teacher education. Good teachers are at the heart of good education.
“Historically the emphasis in Thailand has been on the spirit of the teacher and teaching as a vocation – teachers in Thailand train for five years before they decide what their specialism will be.
“One of our key recommendations was to increase the number of graduate entries into teaching, so the system recruits teachers who already have a first degree in their chosen discipline. In our view Thai teachers need to spend more time studying their subject, particularly those who go onto work in secondary phase schools.”
Bishop Grosseteste University first worked with the Thai government last year on an initial review of initial teacher training in Rajabhat universities (newer universities which were formerly teacher training colleges), funded by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
They met the Education Minister (then the Deputy Education Minister) last August and visited five Rajabhat universities across the country as part of their research.
Last week Professor Atkin, Dr Kampouri and BGU’s International Manager Wayne Dyble returned from a further visit to Bangkok to discuss what progress has been made in implementing reforms.
“This is the first overseas consultancy project of this type we have undertaken and it’s something we aim to do more of in the future. Dr Emma Pearson and Shaun Thompson, members of the team that visited Thailand last summer, are planning a further visit in the summer to support the reform agenda,” said Professor Atkin.
“The meeting went very well and is likely to keep BGU at the heart of the policy reform agenda in Thailand and the wider ASEAN region for years to come.
“BGU has over 150 years’ experience in teacher education and we are now looking to expand our international footprint and share our expertise with the rest of the world and learn from the experiences of others working in teacher education.”