Coronavirus: Teacher training facing severe disruption

DfE advised to grant ITT providers 'additional discretion' in awarding qualified teacher status if courses are cut short

Amy Gibbons

Coronavirus: Fears have been raised about teacher training

Teacher trainers are calling on the government to update its guidance on school placements "as a matter of urgency", as they warn courses will be severely disrupted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet) has said the current requirements for how much time trainee teachers should spend in schools "must be suspended", as many will be unable to finish their placements for reasons out of their control.

And the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (Nasbtt) has said students should be allowed to qualify even if prolonged school closures mean they cannot complete their training.

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James Noble-Rogers, executive director of Ucet, said: "Advice from DfE [the Department for Education] is needed on this as a matter of urgency. We can’t delay any more.

How coronavirus could hit teacher training

"The current requirements about how much time student teachers spend in school must be suspended.

"Some schools may well continue to accept student teachers and work with ITE [initial teacher education] providers.

"In other cases, however, ITE providers will decide it is best to discontinue placements in the interests of the health of their students."

He added: "Some schools may well decide they are no longer in a position to accept students. And some students will be required to self-isolate, or choose to avoid the risk of infection.

"In such cases, ITE providers are well placed to make judgments about how far a student has progressed towards meeting the teacher standards and provide any additional support necessary.

"We are faced with a national emergency and a decision about what providers can and can’t do must be made now."

Nasbtt has also advised the government to grant providers "additional discretion" in awarding qualified teacher status (QTS) if courses are cut short due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Emma Hollis, executive director of Nasbtt, said this is a "vital" step needed to ensure a continued supply of teachers in September.

She told Tes: "At present we do not have any formal steer on what will happen in the event of prolonged school closures, although we understand the DfE are working on their plans at present.

"Our advice to government has been to allow providers additional discretion to make professional judgments about the progress of individual trainees and to allow them to award QTS where it is their professional belief that, all things being equal, they would have met the teachers’ standards by the end of the programme.

"This will be vital to ensure a continued supply of teachers into classrooms in September and is the most sensible and pragmatic approach to take in unprecedented circumstances."

The news comes as the government finds itself under increasing pressure to shut schools across the country.

Yesterday, Britain’s largest teaching union called for schools to be closed and for this year's Sats to be abandoned.

The NEU teaching union also said the government now needs to come up with plans for the "inevitable widespread disruption to GCSE and A-level exams".

The Department for Education has been approached for comment.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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