We are concerned the Government is planning to re-shape the teacher training market in England with potentially devastating consequences to the country’s teacher pipeline at the worst time imaginable.
Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, teachers up and down the country have put themselves second and their pupils first, making schools as safe as possible, designing and delivering superb remote learning, and providing face-to-face teaching whenever possible. The teaching profession’s response to the pandemic has been extraordinary.
Some 30,000 teachers begin their teaching journey through Initial Teacher Education (ITE) partnerships each year. These partnerships produce first-class, committed teachers who provide our country’s children and young people with the best start in life and the greatest opportunities to succeed after school.
The Department for Education’s survey of NQTs showed more than 80% of new teachers regularly rated their ITE highly. Prior to the market review, Ofsted judged every single teacher education partnership as ‘Good’ or better. The Government has often stated how proud it is that there are now 1.9 million more children in Good or Outstanding schools compared with 2010 – our teachers and their ITE providers deserve a great deal of credit for this.
It is absolutely right that there is regular review of all publicly funded systems, and there are few systems more important than that by which we educate new teachers.
We agree that ITE programmes should be informed by the most up to date and robust research; that there should as far as possible be consistency between ITE curricula and the experience of student teachers in school; and that mentors should have a key role in the delivery of ITE programmes and should be both properly trained and adequately resourced.
That is why we support the fact that ITE programmes are properly regulated and held to account for the quality of ITE they provide. This includes, under the new Ofsted inspection framework, a requirement that the new Core Content Framework (CCF) is embedded within ITE programmes. Evidence on how well ITE providers have introduced the CCF is only just beginning to become available.
However, recommendations published on 5th July 2021 in the report from the market review of ITE present huge risks. There should have been a proper call for evidence conducted within a reasonable timescale, when the sector had moved beyond the pandemic and when Ofsted had returned to inspection and had a substantial evidence basis assessing how well or otherwise ITE providers are implementing the CCF. Find out more about our concerns here.
- The proposals in the consultation document are not costed, despite there being significant resource implications.
- Increasing the amount of time student teachers spend in school will clearly place an extra burden on partner schools. It will also make it more difficult to ensure consistency and equity.
- The proposal to ensure student teachers receive minimum levels of mentor support, and that lead mentors have an entitlement to proper training (both things that we welcome in principle), will also cost money.
- The increase in the length of postgraduate ITE programmes to 38 weeks will have cost implications for providers.
- Proposals relating to undergraduate programmes will also cost money.
- The cost to central government of an intensive accreditation process should also have been set out in the report.
- The planned timescales, especially if ITE providers have to go through an unnecessary accreditation procedure, are unreasonable. It can easily take 9 months for programmes offered by universities to be designed, consulted upon and go through revalidation processes. Programme details must, under CMA regulation, be published before students apply for courses.
- The current organisational structure has been extremely effective in supplying this country’s schools with a large number and diverse range of new teachers each year. This should not be put at risk.
- One of the key factors in determining an applicant’s choice of ITE provider is location. If SCITT and HEI providers are forced out of the market (e.g. because of expectations in terms of scale) some potentially excellent teachers will be lost.
- The uncertainty associated with accreditation and reaccreditation procedures, added to increased prescription over how resources within partnerships are allocated, could lead senior staff within universities to conclude they must withdraw from the ITE market.
- The increased involvement of schools in ITE, something which we have long championed, is one of education’s success stories in recent years. Schools are often involved in ITE partnerships because of the relationships they have developed with their partner providers over a number of years.
- There is no guarantee that they will be willing to partner with other, potentially remote, organisations, especially if this leads to a loss of flexibility and ownership and increased prescription about what they do and how they do it.
- The withdrawal of schools from partnership will lead to fewer placement opportunities for student teachers. That in turn will act as a further constraint on recruitment.
Determination of which evidence to base teacher education on:
- The status of teaching as a profession depends in part on it being an intellectual endeavour. Breakthroughs in education have often resulted from a questioning approach. The continued involvement of some research-intensive universities in teacher education might be at risk if they are expected to follow and accept current and potentially time-limited orthodoxies. The withdrawal of such institutions would do huge damage to the prestige of the profession.
We are especially concerned about the resource implications of what is being proposed; the planned timescales; the impact on teacher supply; the implications for established ITE partnerships; and the status of the teaching profession. We fail to see why the Review Group’s suggestions on the content and structure of ITE programmes could not be achieved through changes to the existing ITE criteria without going through the turmoil and risks that a wholesale restructuring of the ITE market would entail.
We need the Government to reassess and take the decision to undertake an evidence-based review in good time that enhances and improves our teacher training system, not diminishes it; and leads to a pipeline of even more great teachers, not fewer.
We are here to celebrate and protect this vital part of the school system: the ITE partnerships educating the very people who learn to thrive and become brilliant teachers themselves, shaping the future for children and young people.
Our supporters who get involved here agree the strength and quality of ITE partnerships across England are having an indelible impact on teachers, children and society – and that we cannot implement recommendations from a rushed market review that puts this all at risk. Join #TeachBest in celebrating just how much excellence in ITE leads to success in the classroom.
The ITE sector
The ITE sector works as a cohesive unit, designing a range of programmes around a shared core framework and working together to deliver excellence. Universities, for example, are involved in 80% of ITE, through their own undergraduate and Master’s programmes, as well as strategic partnerships and mentoring support with schools, colleges, SCITTs and others.
The development of teaching expertise never stops, with qualified teachers accessing ITE partnerships to build on their knowledge, such as through the world-class CPD provided by Universities engaged in cutting edge research.
This joined-up approach results in the stellar impact ITE partnerships achieve.
ITE during COVID-19
As parents and carers all over the world have grown to appreciate this year, teaching is a profession marked by a high degree of thinking, learning and understanding. The skill, ingenuity and dedication of those who have come through England’s ITE system has been perfectly exemplified by the incredible response to the challenges of COVID-19.
Partnerships did a magnificent job in re-designing ITE programmes and developing innovative and effective remote delivery, introducing virtual school placements and robust systems for recruiting new student teachers onto ITE programmes. They provided invaluable support to partner schools, student teachers and pupils.
NQTs and student teachers in 2020, designated critical workers essential to the country, entered new careers in the midst of very challenging circumstances, ready to support pupils, schools, families and communities. Those finishing their training in 2021 will join them as some of the best NQTs ever, with learned skills and experiences around adaptability, resilience, resourcefulness and remote learning design and delivery that will shape the education sector for generations to come.
To find out more about the potential risks from the market review, click below.
This website has been created by the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), an independent, professional organisation funded solely by its member institutions, universities, colleges and others providing accredited Higher Education level teacher education.
Our mission is to support the quality, sustainability and professionalism of teacher education through the encouragement of cohesive partnerships and constructive stakeholder engagement based on evidence from UK and international research.