New Institute of Teaching 'is an unnecessary symbol'

Former schools commissioner criticises DfE's plan for a new teacher training organisation

John Roberts

Teacher training: The government's plan for a new national Institute of Teaching has been strongly criticised by former London schools commissioner Sir Tim Brighouse

The government's "flagship" plan for a new Institute of Teaching to train 1,000 new teachers a year has been criticised as being an unnecessary "symbol" by a former schools commissioner. 

Sir Tim Brighouse told the Foundation for Educational Development's National Education Summit today that the institute was not needed and was being launched in an attempt to secure a legacy.

He highlighted it as an example of policymakers "grabbing something that is a symbol" rather than developing long-term plans.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson announced in January that a new Institute of Teaching will train 1,000 new teachers a year using a "knowledge-based" approach.

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He described it as the first of its kind in the world and said it would "revolutionise teacher training" by adding diversity and innovation to the market. 

However, Sir Tim, a former schools commissioner for London, was highly critical of the plan today.

During a discussion about the future of education policy, Sir Tim said the system needed something in place to ensure that policymakers took a long-term view rather looking at short-term measures.

Teacher training: 'We just don't need the Institute of Teaching'

He suggested creating a standing national advisory council for education, to which the Department for Education would have to produce an annual report.

He added: "We need a standing national advisory education council, that is there as of right, doesn't become the old lags, isn't a kind of special interest group of mates that you have called together – because that is the danger – and certainly isn't anecdotally driven by political advisers.

"I would want something like that so people had a long-term view rather than always just waiting to grab something that is a symbol.

"The latest one that is a symbol is the national Institute of Teaching, which was announced about a fortnight ago.

"We just don't need one. It is quite extraordinary and it's an attempt at getting an obvious legacy."

The DfE has said the institute will offer training through at least four regional campuses from September 2022.

As well as training 1,000 new teachers a year, it will also offer training to around 2,000 early career teachers and 2,000 mentors a year, together with 1,000 participants in NPQ (national professional qualification) leadership training. 

However, university-based teacher training providers have questioned whether the institute represents a good use of "scarce public money". 

When the institute was announced, James Noble-Rogers, from the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said it would not lead to an increase in new teachers because recruits would "simply be taken from existing high-quality providers, potentially threatening their viability".

The DfE has been approached for comment.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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