Warning over 'untested' teacher apprenticeships

School-based trainers back teacher apprenticeships in principle, but say they are concerned about the details

Helen Ward

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Apprenticeships risk opening up teacher training to “untested and unproven methodologies”, a school-based teacher training organisation has warned.

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), commented as the government was drawing up details of a postgraduate teacher apprenticeship route, expected to be announced shortly. 

An undergraduate route, called a degree apprenticeship, is also expected to be developed, in which people would study for a degree alongside working in a school as a way of qualifying as a teacher.

Speaking at a House of Commons reception last night, Ms Holls said she welcomed the principle of apprenticeships. But she added: "For us there is a danger in opening up teacher training to untested and unproven methologies.

"Our view is that an undergraduate apprenticeship, where trainees first obtain a degree and then go on to achieve QTS might be an exciting way to bring additionality to the system – and it's much needed additionality.

"We look forward to working closely with relevant parties to ensure that the valuable lessons already learned by the ITT sector are not lost along the way."

'Easing the complexity' of teacher training

She said there was a need to "ease the complexity" of the teacher training system, not to simply create additional routes.

“There is a real danger that in seeking to find new recruits, training is offered that meets the initial teacher training criteria only in its broadest sense and lacks the acid test of a rigorous inspection process,” Ms Hollis said.

The postgraduate route would be very similar to the School Direct salaried route, in which graduates are paid to work in the school while training as a teacher. But it is expected that, to fit with apprenticeship rules, the route would take four terms rather than three to complete.

Sean Cavan, chair of the Universities' Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said that the quality of teacher training involved would be vital. “The undergraduate apprenticeship has the potential to attract people who would not otherwise think of teaching. But I think it must have a degree inherent in it. At the moment there is not enough clarity about it,” he said.

NASBTT and UCET have set up a joint venture company the Association of Accredited Teacher Education Providers to enable the organisations to work together on quality assurance issues in teacher training, including apprenticeships.

Ms Hollis also set out NASBTT's vision for a revised three-year postgraduate teacher training route, which would retain the current QTS qualification at the end of the first year but enable teachers to carry out an academic study in the following two years, leading to an enhanced QTS and a master's qualification.

Justine Greening, the education secretary, has previously said that a strengthened QTS would be introduced in 2019. 

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