Call to 'immediately' halt controversial ITT review

Government accused of attempting to 'railroad through' massive overhaul of the teacher training market

Amy Gibbons

Teacher training: Call to 'immediately' halt controversial ITT review

Heads' and teachers' leaders are today calling on the government to "immediately" halt its controversial teacher training review over fears that the proposed changes could "irreparably damage" the pipeline into the profession.

The general secretaries of the country's biggest teachers' and school leaders' unions, along with the head of the Chartered College of Teaching, have written an open letter to schools minister Nick Gibb accusing the government of attempting to "railroad through" a controversial overhaul of the teacher training market.

The backlash comes after the Department for Education published the outcomes of its major initial teacher training (ITT) review, which included the controversial suggestion that all providers should go through a "rigorous" process of reaccreditation.

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This was one of 14 key proposals from the DfE's expert advisory group, appointed to draw up plans for a more "effective and efficient" ITT market.

Guided by a new set of "quality requirements" for the sector, the department said the reaccreditation process could be completed by September 2022 – with successful applicants set to launch their "new" ITT courses the following year.

Warnings over plans to shake up teacher training

But the signatories of today's letter warn that there is a "clear danger" that the proposals could cause "fundamental and irreparable damage to the supply of high-quality teachers to our schools".

They highlight fears that existing providers will withdraw from the sector as a result of the review, and that others may put themselves forward for reaccreditation "without fully appreciating the scale of the challenge".

The leaders also criticise the government for launching the consultation at the "tail end" of the school year, with a deadline falling during the summer holidays.

They are now calling for an "immediate halt" to the process to allow for an "opportunity for proper discussion".

The letter comes after Tes revealed concerns from Sam Twiselton, director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University and a member of the DfE's expert group, that the "very short timescale" proposed for implementing the changes presented "risks to teacher supply and quality".

The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), an organisation representing more than 200 teacher training providers across the country, has since warned of "a catastrophic risk to the teacher supply chain" as a result of the plans to shake up the market.

Today's letter states: "We are writing to call for an immediate halt to your consultation on the review of the teacher training market because of the clear danger that it will cause fundamental and irreparable damage to the supply of high-quality teachers to our schools.

"We know you share with us the conviction that the quality of teaching is the single most important element in raising attainment and closing the disadvantage gap.

"It is therefore extraordinary that a consultation which itself recognises it will lead to 'far-reaching changes' to the provision of teacher training in England is launched at the tail end of a summer term disrupted by the ongoing ravages of the pandemic with a deadline for responses which falls during the summer holidays when schools and colleges will be dealing with the outcome of results days.

"This feels very much like an attempt to railroad through a huge change to the model of teacher training provision with minimal opportunity for scrutiny and meaningful feedback."

It adds: "The proposals in the review are indeed far-reaching and involve all existing providers of teacher training having to go through a reaccreditation process on the basis of a new set of quality requirements for their provision.

"There has been no opportunity to examine and understand these requirements and there is clearly a serious danger that existing providers will withdraw from teacher training and that other providers may put themselves forward without fully appreciating the scale of the challenge.

"There is a significant risk of creating gaps in provision and you are well aware that the teacher supply chain simply cannot be disrupted in this way without it consequently impacting very seriously on schools and pupils."

The letter is signed by Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders; Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of the NAHT school leaders' union; Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers' union; Mary Bousted and Kevin Courtney, joint general secretaries of the NEU teaching union; Deborah Lawson, assistant general secretary of Voice Community, which represents workers across the education sector; and Dame Alison Peacock, CEO of the Chartered College of Teaching.

A DfE spokesperson said: "Supporting our teachers with the highest quality training and development is the best way we can improve pupil outcomes, and it is right that we set a high bar for that training and support.

"As we move forward with the review, we are committed to ensuring there continues to be enough training places, in all parts of the country, to meet the teacher supply need."

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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