Not enough time to focus on new training demands, unions warn

15th July 2016 at 00:00

Changes to initial teacher training will lead to a greater emphasis on behaviour management and understanding evidence-based research, it was announced this week. But unions have warned that it will be a struggle to fit every requirement into a one-year course.

The government has given its backing to reports from three expert groups outlining what should be taught on all ITT courses. A core framework provides more clarification on the depth of subject knowledge required, and the need for trainees to use technology effectively and to recognise pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Stephen Munday, chief executive of Comberton Academy Trust, and chair of the government’s ITT core framework expert group, insisted that the document would allow freedom for providers “to put their own take on things”.

“I think that some providers might turn around and say ‘We pretty much do all of that’, which is great,” he said. “There might be some providers who say ‘Crumbs, we’re not doing some of this’ – and that’s the point. There is variability.”

Call for two-year courses

As well as the ITT core framework, separate reports on behaviour and new standards for school-based mentors were published. The advice on behaviour management calls for trainees to be observed in classrooms and given feedback – and for trainers to have recent classroom experience where possible.

While the new curriculum will not be mandatory, it will form the basis of the criteria the government uses to decide how many teacher training places each provider gets. This will provide a strong incentive for providers to follow it.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said the framework was “reasonable and full of good sense” but would be difficult to fit into one year.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, also wants a longer period for ITT – the union has previously proposed a two-year qualification.

The government said in its recent schools White Paper that it would replace the current qualified teacher status with a “more challenging” system, where heads would decide when trainees had become proficient teachers.


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