DfE praises 'quality' ITT - despite plan to overhaul it

'Hypocrisy' criticism as government lauds teacher training in England as part of plans to export it overseas

Amy Gibbons

Teacher training

The government has been accused of "hypocrisy" for saying the "quality and rigour" of English teacher training should be exported worldwide, while consulting on major domestic reforms.

Today the Department for Education has announced it will be proceeding with the creation of a new international teaching qualification, to be "delivered by accredited English initial teacher training (ITT) providers", and "accessible to trainees all over the world".

The International Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS) will "align closely with the requirements and standards for English initial teacher training", the department said, to "assure candidates and schools of the quality and value of the qualification".

iQTS: Teachers to train for qualified status abroad from 2022

Background: UK teacher training going global with new qualification

Viewpoint: Why the iQTS consultation is a golden opportunity

International: 8 key insights about the international teaching market

But critics have called the plans "arrogant", arguing that it is hypocritical for the government to say English teacher training should set an example for international provision amid plans to radically reform the sector in the wake of the ITT market review.

Paul Hopkins, who works at a UK university, said on Twitter: "I find the whole basis of this very arrogant – very English exceptionalism. We already have an internationally recognised award in the PGCE.

"Also the hypocrisy that talks about the 'world class quality of ITE [initial teacher education]' also side the market review that claims it needs significant change."

The government said in its response to the consultation on the creation of the new qualification that, in order to "ensure quality" and "protect the reputation of our excellent teacher training", it will "limit the provision of iQTS to providers who are accredited and inspected in England, at least initially".

"iQTS will build on the sound knowledge and expertise accredited providers have of delivering ITT in England," it said.

And education secretary Gavin Williamson argued in his forward to the consultation response that England is "blessed with some of the world’s finest teachers", and this is "down to the quality and rigour of our teacher training".

"We are committed to helping those who already provide our excellent teacher training to meet global demand for high quality professional development," he said.

But the praise for domestic teacher training is felt by some to jar with the government's recent drive to reform provision in England, borne out of the controversial ITT market review.

The expert advisory group behind the review, led by Ian Bauckham, chief executive of the Tenax Schools Trust, was appointed to draw up plans for a more "effective and efficient" teacher training market.

The group's report said Ofsted inspections found that "too often, curriculums were underpinned by outdated or discredited theories of education and not well enough informed by the most pertinent research". 

Its resulting proposals included the suggestion that all providers should go through a "rigorous" process of reaccreditation, which have sparked outrage across the sector, with the University of Cambridge even threatening to pull out of teacher training altogether if the recommendations are implemented in their current form.

Responding to Mr Williamson's comments on Twitter, David Spendlove, professor of education at the University of Manchester, said: "Pretty embarrassing for the #ITTMarketReview when the SOS [secretary of state] for Education says 'we are blessed with some of the world's finest teachers and this is down to the quality and rigour of our teacher training'. I presume they will now cancel the rest of the review..."

A DfE spokesperson said: "iQTS will be the first UK government-backed international teacher training qualification, based on teacher training methods and standards for schools in England.

"The initial teacher training market review aims to build on existing good practice and make further improvements to ensure that all trainees experience high-quality training. Any future changes to initial teacher training will be considered within iQTS."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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