There has been much heat but too little light in the discussion about the ITT market review. Myths – which play into the anxiety that accompanies any proposed change – abound. But they are just that: myths.
Myth 1: the ITT market review will impose a single prescribed curriculum
The ITT market review recommends that accredited providers develop an evidence-based curriculum, which incorporates the Core Content Framework (CCF). It is already a mandatory requirement of ITT providers to deliver a curriculum that incorporates CCF, so this recommendation does not impose additional curriculum demands on providers.
The introduction to the CCF is clear – as is the ITT market review report – that an ITT curriculum will cover much more than is set out in the CCF.
Providers will be expected to contextualise the CCF appropriately for the phase, subject and training context. Providers will want to introduce trainees to theory and evidence beyond the CCF, enabling trainees to engage critically with their training.
Already, there are many providers who do this expertly, inducting trainees into subject communities, exposing trainees to a wide range of theory and providing ample opportunity to practise their craft.
But, as we have seen from recent inspections, not every trainee receives this quality of training. The reaccreditation process will ensure this is an entitlement of every trainee joining the profession.
Teachers need, deserve and are entitled to brilliant training at all stages of their career, as is the case with other top professions. This training should be rooted in the best research and evidence, creating a shared body of knowledge, skills and behaviours that evolves and is built upon by every new generation of teachers and researchers.
That is what it means to be a profession: standing on the shoulders of generations that came before, tentatively expanding our collective understanding of what works.
Demanding that this common core of evidence-based knowledge, skills and behaviours is passed on to the next generation of teachers is not curriculum prescription. Demanding all trainees are taught the CCF – as part of a wide range of different ITT curricula – ensures we fulfil our professional duty to the next generation of teachers.
Myth 2: the ITT market review will drive SCITTs/HEIs out of the market
Tellingly, both school and HEI providers have suggested that the ITT market review has them in its crosshairs. Neither complainant is correct.
The ITT market review is agnostic of provider size or type. The only thing that matters is the only thing that should matter: capacity to deliver excellent training.
Universities are integral to the teacher training market. Our universities lead the world in education research, driving forward our knowledge of what works in the classroom. Universities are also integral to more than 70 per cent of training, so any future system necessitates a leading role for universities.
School-based providers, too, are essential to the future of teacher training. The ITT market review envisages an even greater role for schools in developing the next generation of teachers.
And no evolution of the teacher training market could reasonably overlook the explosion in high-quality school-based training over the last decade.
The ITT market review envisages a diverse market of school and university providers – all delivering excellence for their trainees.
Some providers will choose to continue working in similar arrangements to now. Others will grow the size of their partnerships, perhaps working with new teaching school hubs to spread their excellence to new corners of the country.
However individual providers decide to proceed, there will remain a mixed market of schools and universities, working closely together on the shared moral endeavour of best preparing the next generation of teachers.
Myth 3: the ITT market review will jeopardise teacher sufficiency
Change can be disruptive and it is crucial that we manage this change sensibly to protect the supply of high-quality trainees into the profession. However, there is good reason to believe the proposed changes could benefit teacher sufficiency.
Firstly, and most importantly, we know from extensive research that well-supported trainees and early career teachers are more likely to survive and thrive in the profession. Better training supports teachers to be more effective and allows them to better manage the stresses and strains of those challenging first few years.
Sadly, some trainees are let down by the current system of training. Ensuring every trainee an excellent introduction to the profession should help rather than hinder the sufficiency challenge.
Better quality ITT should contribute to higher recruitment of trainees and better retention of these teachers, as fewer sink and more swim in their early career. Yes – any reform must be undertaken with appropriate caution. But we know that better training benefits teacher sufficiency.
The ITT market review also provides recommendations to address the inefficiencies in the current ITT market. Stronger partnerships should deliver economies of scale, with greater flexibility to place trainees where they are best suited.
There are a number of recommendations designed to drive up the number and quality of school placements on offer. And the ITT market review envisages a key role for teaching school hubs in engaging schools in previously hard-to-reach areas of the country, ensuring that schools serving disadvantaged communities have access to the best of the next generation of teachers.
Myth 4: the ITT market review is a fait accompli
I urge everyone with an interest in ITT to respond to the consultation.
The expert advisory group has made a number of recommendations, which were tested informally with a range of sector voices – but they need to be subjected to wider scrutiny. In addition, the Department for Education needs our feedback on implementation, including proposed timescales.
The debate over the future of ITT requires a little more light and a little less heat. By responding to the consultation, you can help illuminate the right path to tread as we move towards an even stronger ITT market.
Ian Bauckham is chair of the ITT market review expert advisory group. He is also CEO and Director of Tenax Schools Trust