New teachers able to qualify in ‘six months’

New teachers could be fully accredited within a few months if the government follows through its plan to scrap current training qualifications.

Under the plans, set out in last week’s white paper, trainee teachers would gain accreditation at their headteacher’s behest, a decision that would be ratified by a teaching school or school-centred initial teacher training provider.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said there would be no set time for accreditation: a “very small” minority could qualify in just “six months”.

Replacing qualified teaching status (QTS) in an increasingly academised system, as set out in the white paper and Budget, would shake up pay for trainees as academies can set their own pay conditions.

The DfE said some could give trainees annual pay increments, while others might give salary increases only after a teacher had been accredited, no matter how long that took.

Professor Alan Smithers, a teacher training policy expert from the University of Buckingham, said: “Qualifying as a teacher has mainly been a matter of serving the time, so I welcome the government’s attempt to beef it up. The new approach has been likened to learning to drive.

“But I wonder where the independent assessment of capabilities comes in. Ofsted has had to cope with a slashed budget and it is inspecting much less these days, so I can’t see it taking it on.

“Without independent oversight, trainees and their future careers will be at the mercy of the personal preferences of one or two senior teachers during their first years in schools. So, in principle, a good idea, but how can we be sure it is going to be fair?”

The title of QTS will be changed and trainees will be “accredited” rather than “qualified”, although a DfE spokesperson said the new name would be announced in “due course”.

The white paper said: “We will introduce a more challenging accreditation, recognising the ability to teach well, advanced subject knowledge and understanding, and application of up-to-date evidence.”

As part of its training shake-up, the government also promised to give the “best” training providers long-term allocations of places, so they could plan staffing. Schools Week previously reported that 80 per cent of training providers said uncertainty over numbers meant they were reconsidering the courses they could offer.

However, the DfE told Schools Week the definition of “best” was still to be decided. It also confirmed the changes could take place in time for the 2017/18 round of recruitment.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, gave the proposal a cautious welcome, but said: “There is also a case for increasing the amount of time that it takes to become a fully recognised teacher – much will, however, depend on the detail.”

Schools Week last week reported the concerns of universities about the current system that does not guarantee how many places each university-led PGCE course will have for the start of the 2016/17 academic year. Universities were unanimous that the system had negatively affected their ability to provide provision.


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  1. When other Western countries require teachers to have Masters Degrees and then several years’ experience before being fully qualified, how are we going to have “world class” teachers after 6 months training?
    I can hear the future claims of Nick Gibb already. “We have more qualified teachers than ever” he will exclaim! None of them will know how to teach or control a class, but they will be cheap I guess. I used to think that Alice in Wonderland was a fantasy but now I realise the DfE are using it as a handbook.

  2. Joseph Dunn

    When other countries see this ridiculous proposal they will shake their heads in disbelief.Their training requires much much more for their attitude is that they need the best trained people in front of every class.How would this be possible with this proposal?It is little wonder teachers are leaving in droves in the UK and it will result in a complete deterioration in standards across the board.Perhaps the UK should take some advice from Finland on this matter as the UK government would like the schools to be modelled on the Finnish system.I suspect they would not entertain this silly notion of a 6 month accreditation and would join the other countries who see this as absolute nonsense.It is time for teachers in the UK to bail out.

  3. Bruce Nightingale

    We are witnessing a growth in subject knowledge enhancement courses (SKE) that vary in length and pitch from different providers. It is common practice for graduates of one subject to train as a teacher in another. For example a trainee teacher of computing could receive a full bursary having neither a degree nor an A’ level in computing, as long as they complete an SKE course. Some providers of computing SKE pitch the standard at level 2.

    In comparison, a trainee maths teacher is required to hold at least an A’ level in the subject and complete a 36 week course pitched at A’level and beyond.

    SKE courses are not qualifications. Why do Universities not provide a formal qualification? Why such variation in pitch between different subjects?

  4. Teaching is an intellectual activity not just a practical one. It needs high-quality teacher education. The idea that a ‘teacher’ can be accredited after just six months by a school head is deeply depressing. Not only is the time too short, but it rests on whether a head thinks someone is a ‘great’ teacher or not.

  5. A small sentence in the White Paper shows exactly how the Government intends to control the content of teacher training. It says:
    ‘We’ll ensure discredited ideas unsupported by firm evidence are not promoted to new teachers.’
    It sounds reasonable. After all, who would want teachers told pseudoscience such as Brain Gym? But I don’t think that’s what ministers have in mind. The ‘discredited ideas’ will be theories which ministers don’t like. But theories are ideas to be investigated, discussed, weighed in the balance. But they can’t necessarily be proved by applying the scientific method because they’re theories. Rousseau, Dewey, Montessori, Steiner, Hahn, Arnold, Freire, Bloom, Piaget, Neill, Holt and others all developed different theories. It is part of the intellectual development of teachers to be introduced to these different ideas.
    But this White Paper proposes banning discussion of any theory which a minister decides is ‘discredited’ orthodoxy.
    Silencing of such discussion is dangerous.