Teachers should complete at least three years of training, including a two-year induction period working in a school, before gaining qualified teacher status (QTS), the Department for Education has said.
In a consultation document on “strengthening QTS and improving career progression”, the DfE also suggests introducing an “early career content framework” setting out the key skills that new teachers would have to acquire.
But the government appeared to pour cold water on the notion that teaching should be a master's-level profession.
Currently, trainee teachers in England, who successfully complete their initial teacher training (ITT) at a university or through a school-led route, gain QTS.
The trainee must then complete a statutory induction year as a newly qualified teacher (NQT) to become "fully qualified". If they do not complete the NQT year, they may not teach as a qualified teacher in a maintained school, but they will still have QTS.
The DfE’s consultation document, published today, proposes that the current one-year induction period should be lengthened to two years.
Under the proposals, the completion of ITT would be recognised with a new term, such as “QTS (Provisional)”, “Certificate of Completion of ITT” or “Associate Teacher Status”.
QTS would then be awarded at the end of the two-year induction period – in order to "align with the point at which teachers have no restrictions on their practice".
The DfE says it does not think "radical changes" are needed to the current induction assessment process, saying the headteacher will remain responsible for the assessment of their NQTs.
But it proposes producing new guidance to: "articulate more clearly what ‘an appropriate level’ might mean for a teacher being assessed for QTS".
Although QTS assessment would be conducted internally, it suggests the assessment would be independently verified by an appropriate body, which could potentially be current ITT providers.
For graduates, the proposals would effectively lengthen the time it takes to qualify as a teacher, from two to three years.
But the DfE stresses it does not intend the proposals to affect teachers’ rights or pay.
“Teachers who complete ITT will have the same rights and protections as current NQTs,” the document states. “Salaries post-ITT will still be on the qualified teacher pay scale, and teachers in their second year will have the same entitlements to pay progression that they currently have.”
What the proposals would do, it argues, is remove the "cliff edge" between ITT and starting teaching – with structured support continuing beyond the first year.
But while current NQTs have 10 per cent of their teaching timetable reduced to undertake activities in their one-year induction programme, it is not clear whether this could continue throughout a second year.
The DfE says while it is "important to maintain" the 10 per cent reduction in teaching to which NQTs are currently entitled, it would welcome views on the benefits and feasibility of expanding this provision "in some form" into the second year of teaching.
The document also recognises that there are “multiple routes into teaching that do not necessarily follow” the standard QTS process, such as Teach First. “We are committed to making sure that these proposals work for all new entrants to teaching, otherwise we risk having a negative effect on recruitment into the profession,” it states.
Alongside the new timeframe to achieve QTS, the DfE says it will develop an “early career content framework” setting out the “key competencies” that new teachers should develop, covering areas such as:
- Subject and curriculum knowledge
- Evidence-based pedagogy, including subject-specific pedagogy
- Use of and engagement with evidence
- Behaviour management
- Use and understanding of assessment
- Supporting pupils with special educational needs and disability
However, the consultation document does not appear to endorse the idea of teaching becoming a master's-level profession.
“We want to encourage individuals to build on master's credits gained elsewhere, including potentially through the early career curriculum, to complete a full master's, where it is the right option for them,” it adds.
The document proposes a number of other changes, such as allowing ITT providers to act as the “appropriate bodies” responsible for overseeing the award of QTS, and boosting mentoring.
And in terms of post-QTS career progression, the DfE is proposing “work-related sabbaticals” for teachers, which could help "maintain engagement in teaching".
The government is seeking views on the benefits of setting up a “sabbatical fund” that teachers could apply to after at least seven years in the classroom. The fund would then cover their salaries for up to a year while they carry out a specific project, which could include academic research.
Other proposals include introducing new qualifications for teachers who do not aspire to “traditional” leadership roles, but who want to build on their specialist leadership capabilities.
The DfE is also seeking views on how to incentivise continuous professional development (CPD) through perhaps setting out a recommended minimum number of CPD hours, or ring-fencing funding for training.
Ms Greening said: “Great teachers help unlock children’s talents, so investing in them is vital if we want to drive school improvement across the country.
“We’re taking steps to make sure high-quality professional development is a fundamental part of a teacher’s career, whether they decide to move into a leadership role or want to continue teaching the classroom. These new measures aim to boost that support from the moment they start their career."