Dozens of providers warn they may be forced to pull out of teacher training amid fears the system will be unviable
#TeachBest website launched to celebrate great teacher training providers
More than 30 teacher training providers in England have warned that they may pull out of the market amid fears the Government will introduce an “unviable” new system of short-term contracts.
Internal polling carried out by the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers has shown that 35 of 40 providers who responded said they may have to withdraw from the market if this is the case. Together these providers train more than 10,000 new teachers a year, a loss that would have “devastating consequences” for the sector.
The Government’s market review of the teacher education sector has prompted the concerns that a new system will be introduced under which a small number of selected organisations offer short-term contracts to Initial Teacher Education (ITE) providers.
In all, some 30,000 teachers each year join the profession through Initial Teacher Education (ITE) partnerships. As many as 80% of those involve universities through undergraduate and Master’s programmes, as well as strategic partnerships and mentoring support that universities have with schools, colleges, school-centred initial teacher training organisations (SCITTs) and other providers. In the Department for Education’s surveys of newly qualified teachers, more than 80% of new teachers rate their ITE highly. Ofsted has also judged every single teacher education partnership as Good or Outstanding.
The Government’s proposed new Institute of Teaching, which would provide 1,000 new places, would be unable to fill the loss of 10,000 places a year, leading to a “catastrophic” shortfall of new teachers entering the profession. This loss would happen at a time when schools and colleges across the country have faced additional challenges caused by COVID-19 and are working tirelessly to support pupils with their social, emotional, mental, physical and academic needs over the coming post-pandemic months and years.
ITE providers are also concerned at what they describe as a “rushed” review. They point to the fact that it began in earnest in the midst of a global pandemic, and that it has been launched without a call for evidence. The Government, in its answer to a Parliamentary Question of 16th February, said that “the review is focused on ensuring consistently high quality ITT [initial teacher training] based on the CCF [Core Content Framework]”. The CCF, a new framework setting out the requirements for teacher education programmes, was introduced in September 2020 and Ofsted has not yet been able to carry out inspections of providers since then because of the pandemic.
James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said:
“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.
“ITE 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. Ofsted agrees and teachers deserve great credit for the fact that there are now 1.9 million more children in Good or Outstanding schools compared with 2010.
“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 also 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 CCF is embedded within ITE programmes. Evidence on how well ITE providers have introduced the CCF will begin to be available when ITE inspections begin again this year.
“However, the market review of ITE currently being undertaken presents huge risks. There should be a proper call for evidence and it should be conducted within a reasonable timescale, when the sector is moving beyond the pandemic and when Ofsted has returned to inspection and has assessed how well or otherwise ITE providers are implementing the CCF.
“We are especially concerned that the review could propose a system under which a small number of selected organisations offer short-term contracts to ITE providers. Under these conditions, many ITE providers might decide the teacher training market is unviable and will withdraw.
“Indeed, we know that more than 30 providers have already signalled that they may pull out, taking with them some 10,000 teacher training places a year. The new Institute of Teaching, which will provide 1,000 places, will not be able to fill this void, leading to a catastrophic shortage of teachers and devastating consequences.
“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 which leads to a pipeline of even more great teachers, not fewer. We are not complacent about the quality of ITE and believe that there will always be room for improvement. But any proposed changes must be based on evidence and properly discussed before they are introduced.
“Today we have launched our #TeachBest website so that people can celebrate and support our great teacher education partnerships.”
Stefanie Sullivan, Director of Initial Teacher Education at the University of Nottingham, said:
“Well-established ITE partnerships, that understand their local context and the needs of the schools and young people in their region, are central to developing the next generation of teachers. As we emerge from the pandemic, these partnerships can support creative approaches to our schools and communities beginning their recovery and nurturing young people to move past the deficit rhetoric of ‘lost learning’ and a ‘failed generation’.”