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New teachers struggle to 'manage' classrooms, according to poll of heads

Nearly three-quarters of heads say trainee teachers finish their courses without acquiring the skills they need to manage a classroom, according to new research.

The poll by the NAHT headteachers' union of 1,127 of its members also found that more than half said that newly qualified teachers (NQTs) lacked subject knowledge and a sufficient understanding of pedagogy and child development.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “School leaders are finding that some applicants leave initial teacher training (ITT) without the right balance of skills to allow them to make the most of their passion and talents when they are in the classroom.”    

The results of the poll carried out this month have been used in the association’s submission to the government-commissioned Carter Review of ITT.

The survey also found that a third of heads felt that NQTs were less well prepared for working in schools than they were five years ago.

“It is vital for ITT courses to achieve the right balance of subject specialism, teaching theory and school-based practical experience,” Mr Hobby added.

“It is critically important for all teachers to have a good grounding in childhood psychology and development in order to be able to understand special educational needs. The NAHT view is that one year of ITT is not enough time for primary trainees, in particular, to be given a fair chance to achieve all this.”

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said: “If you want robust evidence about the quality of ITT it is best to look at full Ofsted reports rather than perception surveys.

“But a PGCE is only nine months long and you are not going to master everything in sufficient depth in that time, which is why we have been calling for teachers to have an entitlement to structured early professional development to build on their ITT.

“That is the way to keep them in the profession and ensure they develop all the skills and knowledge they need.”

Related stories:

Gove launches review of teacher training courses May 1 2014

'Panic' beginning over teacher recruitment as training overhaul continues December 10 2013


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