© 2014

Student Teachers in School Practice

An Analysis of Learning Opportunities


Part of the Policy and Practice in the Classroom book series (PPC)

About this book


This book discusses changes to student teacher education globally and in the UK, exploring how student teachers learn through school teaching practices and ideas for developing and maximizing learning opportunities in school-based student teacher education.


student teacher education school practise education learning school teacher education

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of RoehamptonUK

About the authors

Alaster Scott Douglas is Reader in Education and Professional Practice and a member of the Centre for Educational Research in Equalities, Policy and Pedagogy at the University of Roehampton, UK. He has previously worked as a teacher and senior manager in four high schools in the UK.

Bibliographic information


“Douglas has provided a thorough description and analysis of the interactions of student teachers with schools and mentors in their practicum, through an ethnographic Case Study qualitative approach. … I read Douglas’ book and learned much more than I expected, in methodology as much as in novice teacher education. I can recommend it wholeheartedly, especially for those running courses entirely based in schools.” (John Oversby, Journal of Education for Teaching, Vol. 41 (5), December, 2015)

"In an educational era characterized by oversimplified solutions to complex problems, Alaster Scott Douglas provides in this study a deeper, richer look into how schools and departmental faculty work than is usually envisioned in the creation of educational policy. Policymakers and teacher educators would be wise to read this research and learn that learning to teach is a multidimensional, difficult process whose effects cannot be easily reduced to student test scores or other superficial measures of how teaching affects learning." - Peter Smagorinsky, Distinguished Research Professor of English Education, The University of Georgia, USA

"This book makes a significant contribution to the growing literature examining teacher education. In doing so, it asks new and important questions about the nature of the practicum in particular and the aims of initial teacher education in general. The clearly written account of 'Market Town High School' and 'Downtown University', and the work they engage in together to prepare new teachers, should be compulsory reading for everyone who cares about teacher education and the role of the teaching practicum." - Joce Nuttall, Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, Australian Catholic University

"At a time when teacher education systems around the world are placing increased importance on student teachers' learning in schools, this book offers very valuable analyses of how, why, where and when opportunities for learning can be developed. In particular, drawing on cultural-historical activity theory and ethnographic research, the book offers insights into the ways in which schools - and the micro communities within them - can work with higher education institutions to structure in-depth learning opportunities for the benefit of both student teachers and their teacher colleagues. This highly recommended book also gives insightful analysis of the debates which characterise the field of teacher education and the research which contributes to its international development." - Jean Murray, Professor of Education, University of East London, UK

"Appropriate for students, student teach-ers, lecturers and early career research-ers who are particularly interested in researching in schools in an ethno-graphic way, the book will also be of interest to students, lecturers and teachers involved in undergraduate and postgraduate teacher education and education courses." - International Society for Cultural and Activity Research

"[an] important text. For all of us involved in teacher education we know how complex student/practice teaching can be and it is an area that warrants much more research. This text promises to add to our understanding of a critical yet often misunderstood aspect of teacher credential programs." - Literacy Teaching and Teacher Education

"This book is a welcome and timely addition to a burgeoning literature on teacher education. Not only refreshing but bold, Douglas comments how so many texts err on the descriptive side, rather than as this book does so well, analyse the thinking behind the actions of student teachers, school staff and university tutors in the realities of school teaching practice ... In a time of immense change in education, Douglas contributes a refreshing and insightful book that causes us to reflect deeply on the nature of learning and re-examine the opportunities in schools that promote it with student teachers. I can recommend this book very highly and assuredly it will be top of the reading list of teacher education and education studies students in my University." - Jonathan Doherty, Journal of Vocational Education & Training

"Scott Douglas's text points to some of the complexities and nuances of teacher training. With such radical changes to ITT in recent years, this book provides a useful framework for considering the key learning opportunities for trainee teachers. This is a valuable, well-researched yet practical text for anyone involved in teacher education. Many of the observations Scott Douglas makes would provide a useful audit for evaluating ITT provision: whether university or school based. However, this text also highlights some key messages for all educators. For instance, Scott Douglas's analysis of 'the research school' is relevant across the system. Student Teachers in School Practice should be seen as an important book within educational discourse today." - Tom Middlehurst, Head of Research, SSAT

"This book explores the different responses of subject departments to participating in student teachers on teaching practice. The book comes alive when Scott Douglas introduces us to the trainees and teachers in the subject departments at the school where he conducted his research. There is a richness and authenticity to the data. For those that manage student teachers or who have them working in their schools, it offers some very important points. Scott Douglas was a school teacher and he uses his experience as a teacher and school manager to good effect. He was evidently accepted readily to the school and university alike; this is played out in the discussion of the tensions between the school, university and the student teachers. His conclusions are important ones as the business of teacher training is becoming less reliant on a university based route and new school-based pathways continue to grow. For those who work with student teachers in schools it offers a new perspective and for those in leadership positions, it reminds us about the micropolitics and the cultural significance of the way we work both in the classroom and the staffroom." Susan Tranter, Executive Headteacher, Education Today

'Alaster Scott Douglas has produced an important book, which explores initial teacher education (ITE) at the level of the secondary school subject department. This is still the main organising unit for secondary schools and yet is surprisingly underexplored in the ITE literature. This work therefore addresses a significant gap in the literature, and is also timely, given the recent direction of ITE policy in England, pushing increasing responsibility for ITE into schools.' British Journal of Educational Studies

This book will be very timely reading, particularly for schools taking on the extended role of preparing the next generation of new teachers. It will also provide a record of a deep extended study of the learning process of becoming a teacher in an English school. A unique feature of the book is that it provides strong empirical data as well as a wide range of recent and seminal literature.

- Elaine Wilson, University of Cambridge, Journal of Education Policy

"The book serves as an excellent study of the complexity and issues which face all those concerned with teacher education at a practical level. The book acts as a very good example of application of theory and methodology to practical research. Of particular note is the strong narrative which emerges from the analysis, one which shows a large diversity of practice and professional beliefs. Recommendations are given which make explicit the problems, contradictions and opportunities in the rapidly changing teacher education sector. This book offers a very important, and very critical, narrative which lays bare the variability of practicum experiences. It would make excellent reflective reading for anyone involved in teacher education, both university and school-based. It is studies such as this which should be used as a starting point in considering how approaches to placement work are to be planned and enhanced. I would also go as far as to say that it should be required reading for the Carter Review team currently considering recommendations for the future of teacher education in England." - Phil Wood, 'Education 3-13: International Journal of Primary, Elementary and Early Years Education'