Back in 2002 Professor Sir Chris Woodhead and Professor Anthony O’Hear led the first teacher training course to be offered at the University of Buckingham. There were just 12 teachers. Now, with over 1000 teachers and school leaders studying with us, we have become the country’s leading provider of teacher training and professional development.
Our primary aim in all of our courses is to improve teaching and leadership in schools. The frameworks and assessments for each course weave into your day-to-day school lives, so that study and practice are relevant to your role and aspirations.
The range of our courses is clarified in our Continuum of Professional Learning below, but in short we provide a Masters or Doctoral level course applicable to the majority of positions in schools.
The website will give you information about each of our courses and the people who run them, but please get in touch if you have any questions.
The School is based in the Whittlebury Hall, a hotel about 15 minutes from Buckingham, which offers the advantage of accommodation and multiple meeting rooms for residential courses. Students also have use of the university library and online resources. Courses are taught in part by visiting lecturers.
What we believe
School teaching can be the most fulfilling job – creative, autonomous and a major influence for good on people’s lives.
Good teachers are what matters most in a school system. They are more significant than the way schools are organised.
Good teacher training focuses on the practice of classroom management and understanding what good research and experience tells us works best.
Most so-called professional development does not work. What does work is deliberate practice…. focussing on doing things the teacher cannot yet do well enough, ideally with feedback. This is why at Buckingham we believe in classroom-based teacher training. Teachers can improve throughout their working lives, but will only do so if they experiment with methods they have not used before.
Good subject knowledge is a principal characteristic of the best teachers.
Different school subjects are different and need specific teaching methods.
We believe in the value of some learning being hands-on, science practicals and geography fieldwork for example.
There is no one teaching style but some methods are more effective than others. Direct instruction works well.
Many children can do better at school than they are. We can expect more.
All children need to be able to read well before they leave primary school. Phonics is the best way to do this.
Little can be achieved, especially in secondary schools, without good discipline. Discipline, rigour and hard work matter more than making lessons ‘relevant’ or ‘fun’.
Engagement with and training of parents is important.
All children but especially disadvantaged children need a body of knowledge to build on if they are to make a success of school. You cannot think deeply about a subject unless you have knowledge. Teaching so-called ‘facts’ is often a prerequisite for independent work and thought.
Disadvantaged children need access to the knowledge known as cultural capital, including vocabulary, if they are to compete.
Repeated testing (retrieval practice) is essential if pupils are to retain knowledge and understanding. Education is in large part about placing knowledge securely in the long-term memory.
Both teachers and pupils need to believe in growth mindset – ability is not fixed but can be developed by effort. Some people are more naturally gifted than others but the less able can compensate if they work hard.
Reducing gaps in achievement between sub-groups (based on gender, ethnicity, social class, special needs) is worth doing but is less important than getting all sub-groups up to a good level.
Technology should be used where there is good evidence it is better than direct instruction by a teacher alone. Good textbooks can be as important as computers.
Pupils need to develop strong spoken skills in the context of every school subject.
School is not only about exam results. Good mental and physical health, soft skills, worthwhile habits, academic motivation, and the discovery of new interests such as art, music and drama are also important.
Research at the University of Buckingham
Professor Alan Smithers is one of the best-known and authoritative educational researchers in the UK. Professor James Tooley is an international expert in the development of low-cost schools in developing countries. The EdD students are conducting research in a variety of fields. Max Coates is producing a new academic journal for the School of Education.