Bridging theory and practice in teacher education: teaching schools – a bridge too far?
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The study reported on in this article stems from the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development in South Africa (2011). This framework proposes the establishment of teaching schools to strengthen teacher education. This article reports on a qualitative inquiry into the views of school-based personnel and the teacher education sector on the implementation of teaching schools as sites for teacher education and whether they think teaching schools could enhance the education of student-teachers. The inquiry showed that the participants were positive that teaching schools will enhance teacher education through serving as a bridge between the academic, university-based preparation of student-teachers and the practice demands of the teaching profession. However, they had no clear notion of how such schools could add value to teacher preparation differentiated to schools in which student-teachers are placed for work-integrated learning. We contend that, prior to establishing teaching schools, much deliberation between all stakeholders is required about the purpose and means of integrating teaching schools in teacher education. If not, teaching schools that serve to bridge the gap between the education of student-teachers at universities and the demands that novice teachers face once they enter the teaching profession might remain an elusive ideal.