Warning over risk to school teacher training provision

Call for the teacher training provider reaccreditation timetable to be 'pushed back'

Matilda Martin

inspector holding a clipboard

The proposed timetable to reaccredit teacher training centres by next September discriminates against school-based providers and should be "scrapped", a sector leader has warned.

Speaking at the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) annual conference today, Jonny Uttley, the chief executive of The Education Alliance Multi-Academy Trust (TEAL) and SCITT, voiced concerns over whether there was a preferred size and scale for initial teacher training (ITT) providers that the accreditation process would scrutinise. 

Mr Uttley questioned the ability of schools to meet expectations of the market review amid the current strains caused by the pandemic and warned "there is no capacity in the school system right now for such significant structural reform".

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He added: "I have seen what this pandemic has done to school leaders and they are leaving on an industrial scale. And I have huge concerns that there is a complete deafness to the lack of capacity in the system right now."

His comments come as the Department for Education prepares to publish the outcomes of its major ITT review, which included the controversial suggestion that all providers should go through a "rigorous" process of reaccreditation.

The DfE said the reaccreditation process could be completed by September 2022 – with successful applicants set to launch their "new" ITT courses the following year.

Heads and teacher leaders have previously called for the reforms to be halted over fears they would "irreparably damage" the future pipeline of new teachers.

Mr Uttley said the process would begin too soon and he would like to see a "pushing back" of the first round of the process.

"I would like to see a pushing back of the timetable, particularly around reaccreditation because if the consultation comes out in December, we're then talking about [the] first round of reaccreditation soon after that.

"That can only come from people who have not actually been near a school for 18 months because the vast majority of us simply will not have time or the capacity to turn something like that around."

He insisted "the system is not broken" but said it was "fragmented" and there was a "variability of quality which needs addressing".

When questioned on the fears surrounding preferences over provider size and scale, DfE official Ruth Talbot said there was "no preference for one type of provider over another".

"This is not about size, this is not about scale, this is about quality," she said.

Speaking on the concerns around the accreditation process, Professor Sam Twiselton, director of Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University, warned that the results would be "down to what happens in accreditation".

"Nothing in what was consulted on suggests that the accreditation process is looking for a particular curriculum," she said.

"But until we've lived through that process, it's hard to argue for or against whether there might be a particular curriculum that's being looked for."

Professor Twiselton said that she didn't think there should be a particular curriculum and that "ITT is at its best when it's got that local ownership".

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Matilda Martin

Find me on Twitter @Matilda__martin

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