Exclusive: Schools probe on teacher trainee engagement

Government was previously advised to consider if there is 'value' in 'mandating' schools to take trainees

Amy Gibbons


The government's controversial teacher training review is looking at "school engagement" with trainees, a Department for Education (DfE) adviser has said.

Last year, the government was advised to consider whether there is value in "mandating schools to play an active part" in teacher training.

Now Sam Twiselton, who is part of the expert group advising the Department for Education (DfE) on its evaluation of the initial teacher training (ITT) market, has told Tes that the review is "considering school engagement in ITE [initial teacher education]".

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The news comes the day after education minister Baroness Berridge revealed that the government will conduct a public consultation on the final proposals from the review before they are implemented.

Earlier this year, it emerged that the DfE was to resume its review of the ITT market, following a pause owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The DfE said the review will focus on how the ITT sector can "provide consistently high-quality training, in line with the core content framework, in a more efficient and effective market".

This will involve making "well-informed, evidence-based recommendations" on how to ensure "all trainees receive high-quality training"; "the ITT market maintains the capacity to deliver enough trainees and is accessible to candidates"; and "the ITT system benefits all schools", the department said.

But the review has proved controversial among providers, with the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) warning that the process is "shrouded in secrecy".

While Professor Twiselton has said the review is considering "school engagement" in ITE, it is not clear exactly which questions the government is posing.

However it has previously been suggested that the DfE should consider whether there is value in forcing schools to take trainees.

In a policy briefing for the DfE published in July 2020, universities and school-based teacher trainers suggested that a new group of government advisers discuss the prospect of Ofsted judging schools based on whether they offer training placements.

"Perhaps the most pressing question would ask how can we incentivise more schools to play an active part in ITE in the future?

"To secure a greater number of placements of appropriate quality, we need more schools to play an active part in training future generations of the profession," the policy paper said. 

"The plan should make this a key focus of its work and explore why schools do not engage, and then determine how more can be encouraged to do so in the future.

"Is there value in considering whether mandating schools to play an active part could be effective? Should active participation in ITE be a criterion Ofsted assesses when inspecting a school in the future?

"We believe these questions, and others like them, would be of value to the profession and could take ITE forward in a positive direction."

The DfE said the ITT market review was focused on how the sector can provide consistently high-quality training in a more efficient and effective market.

It added that it has committed to wider sector engagement in late spring, and plans to conduct a public consultation on final proposals before they are implemented.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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