QTS consultation: Only 50% back two-year induction period and 6 other key results

The education community is split on extending the induction period for new teachers to two years, the government’s consultation response has revealed.

New teachers will now spend two years in an induction period, where they can receive extra support and professional development. But respondents were evenly split on the idea, with more than 900 against it.

The Department for Education is also considering a badging scheme for schools to show they are meeting the standards for continuous professional development, as well as an accreditation procedure for the groups that oversee teacher training.

However, the government is silent on whether it will pay for the proposals.

The consultation response on ‘Strengthening QTS and improving teacher career progression’ was launched in December last year, and the government has said its response is just the “first phase of a much longer term programme of work”.

Today, the Department for Education announced a £5 million sabbatical fund will become available, and that it will be on offer to experienced teachers to take time out for activities “such as a year working in industry relevant to their field”.

It “must take the time to develop them properly”.

Almost 2,000 responses, including about 240 headteacher and about 200 NQTs, were sent in. Here are the key findings:

1. Only half of respondents agreed the induction period should be extended

Views were evenly split on whether to extend the induction period, with 940 respondents for and 935 against . School leaders were significantly more in favour of an extension than trainee teachers and NQTs.

Currently, trainee teachers do a qualifying year and receive qualified teacher status (QTS).

Those who disagreed raised concerns about the negative impact on recruitment, particularly if combined with an extended induction period.

The government “will work with the profession in the next phase of work to understand how best to deliver these proposals”, noting that the funding of the new induction period will be “a matter for the forthcoming spending review.”

There was significant support for extending the 10-per-cent timetable reduction enjoyed by new teachers into the second year, with a majority of respondents in support.

But nearly a third said new teachers should be released from non-teaching tasks, such as form groups or clubs, altogether, however the Chartered College of Teaching raised concerns teachers would miss out on “valuable experiences”.

The government emphasised the longer induction period will not affect new teachers’ pay.

2. Nearly 90% of respondents support the Early Career Framework (ECF) 

A professional development and support framework for newly qualified teachers will “ensure new teachers have more support in this crucial phase of their career” and will act as guidance for schools.

The DfE will work “intensively” with teachers to develop the framework, and is getting together a small group of experts to gather views, and will also hold roundtable sessions, to ensure the framework is developed with “as wide a range of people within the sector as possible”.

Eighty-eight per cent of respondents were in favour.

Trainees and NQTs were especially enthusiastic about the idea of learning more about assessing and supporting pupils with SEND. Meanwhile more experienced teachers wanted a focus on subject and curriculum knowledge, and behaviour management.

Concerns raised included the potential costs of the framework, and that it should not add to workload or become a “tick-box exercise”.

3. There might be a CPD ‘badging scheme’ for schools

In terms of ongoing CPD, schools need to become more aware of “the standard for teachers’ professional development”.

“We will reconvene an expert group to explore options for how to improve awareness of the standard in schools,” the government said.

It will also look at the “feasibility and desirability” of developing a badging scheme or framework for CPD provision in schools.

4. The provisional QTS idea was not popular

Under the original proposals, the completion of ITT was going to be recognised with a new name, such as “QTS (provisional)”. QTS would then be awarded at the end of the two-year induction period

But many respondents were uncertain about what being “provisionally” qualified would mean and whether it would affect pay or create negative public perceptions, particularly if parents think their child is not taught by a qualified teacher.

The government said “it became clear from responses, particularly organisational responses, that we do not need to move the award of QTS to deliver the benefits that we set out to achieve”.

“A well-designed two-year induction with enhanced support will have a more substantial impact on improving the quality of teaching than moving the point at which QTS is awarded.”

5. New teachers will be entitled to a formal mentor

The statutory induction guidance will be amended so that a “new role of mentor” is created, in addition to the general coordinator.

In order to have maximum effect, this should be related to the ECF rather than being generic, so it will be developed in conjunction with the ECF,” said the response.

The government will also review the mentor standards to make sure they are applicable to NQT mentors in both schools and ITT settings.

5. The bodies that oversee teacher training standards will need to be accredited

The government will introduce an accreditation process for appropriate bodies so the expectations of appropriate bodies are “clear and consistent”.

Appropriate bodies are teaching schools and local authorities which oversee standards in schools where trainees are placed.

These bodies will also have to meet a quality-assurance process, and will have access to more detailed guidance on best practice for appropriate bodies.

6. Three quarters supported specialist leadership qualifications

Three quarters of respondents gave “strong support” for the introduction of specialist leadership qualifications, with the majority saying NPQs were the right vehicle for this.

Other specialisms that should have qualifications were teacher development, curriculum design and assessment.

The majority of organisations, including unions, ITT providers and Ofsted, also supported the idea of developing more subject specific qualifications, although were not sure if NPQs are the right way to do this.

The response said there was “clear support” for specialist qualifications, including subject specialisms, so these would be developed. They will build on the ECF and also “complement” the chartered college’s chartered teacher status.

7. The “practical challenges” of sabbaticals need ironing out

There was “significant and wide-ranging support” for the sabbaticals pilot, including from unions, with 80 per cent agreeing with the proposal.

However, some respondents noted practical challenges to the idea including arranging cover for teachers, particiularly in shortage subjects, the length of sabbaticals and the criteria used to determine eligible activity, as well as how to make sure teachers return to teaching afterwards.

The idea will be piloted in September 2019 with a cohort who have been in the profession for at least 10 years, with further information to come in the autumn.

A “strong evaluation” of the pilot would consider the longer-term effects of a sabbatical programme on the individual and their school, including the manageability of supporting a sabbatical.

“Given that the policy intention is to support the retention of more established teachers as well as improve perceptions of the professionalism of teaching, we will need to be sure that any such programme has a positive impact in these areas.”