Practical guidance on how to deal with unruly pupils in the classroom should be an integral part of teacher training, according to a new report.
The Carter review of initial teacher training (ITT), which was published today, says that learning how to manage behaviour effectively is vital for trainees.
But some ITT providers are reluctant to broach the subject, telling the review that “behaviour management cannot be taught” and “trainees need to develop their own strategies – we can’t tell them what to do”.
The review disagrees, arguing that teachers should “start their careers armed with tangible strategies and techniques to draw upon”, and calls for behaviour management to be included in a new framework of core content for all ITT programmes.
“Behaviour management should be taken very seriously and prioritised within ITT programmes. We believe it is crucial that trainees receive practical advice about what is and is not likely to work,” the report adds.
But Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said the recommendation revealed “the government’s need to micromanage and failure to trust the profession”.
Earlier this year, Ofsted estimated that low-level disruptive behaviour in the classroom was causing students to miss out on 38 days of teaching a year.
And a survey by the NAHT headteachers’ union found that a third of school leaders thought that newly qualified teachers were not well prepared for working in a school. Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) said this was because of a lack of classroom management skills.
The Carter review also recommends that a common core for ITT should include evidence-based teaching, as well as child and adolescent development, assessment and special educational needs. More subject knowledge should also be included, the report adds.
The government has agreed, and says it will commission an independent group to look into developing the framework.
But Professor John Howson, an honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford, said it was “difficult to see” how more subject knowledge could be included in ITT programmes without making them longer.
“The potential problem is that we are already getting a quart into a pint pot and we can’t fit in a gallon,” he added.
Another of the report’s recommendations is that qualified teacher status (QTS) should be promoted as the “essential component” of ITT, with the postgraduate certificate of education (PGCE) clearly labelled as an “optional academic qualification”.
But a source close to schools minister David Laws said that the move has been blocked by the Liberal Democrats. “The prestigious academic rigour which universities can provide has a key role to play in ensuring the high quality and consistency of teacher training, as well as drawing in outstanding people,” the source said.
“We are not prepared to see the status of teaching undermined in this way, which is why David Laws has stopped this recommendation from happening. Liberal Democrats will ensure that higher education continues to play a central role in teacher training."
The Carter review’s recommendations come amid increasing warnings that the shake-up in teacher training could contribute to teacher shortages. School Direct, a scheme in which schools rather than universities select trainees, has filled only 61 per cent of the places it was allocated.
But the report stops short of recommending any single route into teaching, adding that debates over which form of provision is best are “not terribly helpful”.
“The truth is that partnership is the key,” it says. “Sometimes universities will take the lead; sometimes, and increasingly, it will be the schools that lead the way.”