catch-up

The government’s initial teacher training (ITT) market review will “cause fundamental and irreparable damage to the supply of high-quality teachers” and must come to an “immediate halt”, education leaders have warned.

Five education unions and the Chartered College of Teaching have written to schools minister Nick Gibb over the controversial reform proposals set out last week.

The ITT review report outlined plans to radically alter the current landscape – including a requirement for all current providers to be re-accredit as early as next year.

Providers that fail to make the grade risk having their trainees “brokered” elsewhere.

teacher recruitment ITT review

Sam Twiselton

‘An attempt to railroad through change’

The joint letter criticises the government’s decision to launch the review “at the tail-end of a summer term disrupted by the ongoing ravages of the pandemic” and with a deadline for responses “which falls during the summer holidays when schools and colleges will be dealing with the outcome of results days”.

The review consultation is due to close on August 22.

The letter further warns the move “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”.

The coalition cites a Schools Week article published last week in which a member of the review’s own advisory group, Professor Sam Twiselton, raised concerns over the short timescale proposed to implement the changes.

Twiselton suggested more time was needed and said “with an extra year many of these issues could be properly worked through and sensible solutions found”.

The letter also acknowledges concerns raised by university education departments, including both Oxford and Cambridge, which have warned the changes may make their courses unviable.

The letter was signed by the leaders of the heads’ unions ASCL and NAHT, teaching unions the NEU and NASUWT, Voice Community and the Chartered College. They said Twiselton’s proposal for an extra year seemed “very sensible”, and called for the consultation to be taken “off the table at this time so that there is an opportunity for proper discussion”.

No opportunity to examine new ITT requirements

The letter also warned there had been “no opportunity to examine and understand” new requirements proposed in the review, and said there was “clearly a serious danger that existing providers will withdraw from teacher training”.

It also raises concerns “other providers may put themselves forward without fully appreciating the scale of the challenge”.

Leaders said Gibb was “well aware that the teacher supply chain simply cannot be disrupted in this way without it consequently impacting very seriously on schools and pupils”.

‘Recognise the need’ for quality assurance

The letter acknowledged the need for “robust quality assurance of teacher training providers”, but said any changes need to be made “in a more considered and less rushed way”.

“We urge you to pause this process, and engage with teacher-training providers and education leaders to ensure that any reforms provide the best possible way forward for our schools and the children they serve.”

In a letter responding to the calls, Gibb addressed concerns of the timeline of reforms.

He said: “I agree that any changes need to be made in a considered way . . . the consultation includes testing the speed with which any recommendations that government accepts should be implemented.

“It is only after this consultation has been completed that government will make its final decision on which recommendations to accept, and the timescale within which they will be implemented.”

Elsewhere he told union leaders the recommendations on which the government is consulting are “firmly focused on ensuring high quality initial training for all trainees”.