Reforms to qualified teacher status (QTS) risk putting applicants off and making the benchmark seem less legitimate, according to teacher training providers and unions.
Responses to the government’s consultation on “strengthening” QTS, seen by Schools Week, reveal unease about a plan to make trainee teachers wait two years before they qualify.
Under the proposals, trainee teachers will achieve a QTS (provisional) award at the end of the first year, and will then qualify in full at the end of their second year.
The government believes the longer period will provide new teachers “with more opportunity to develop their professional practice” through mentoring and early career development.
Any teacher holding QTS should be able to give an unequivocal affirmative answer to the question ‘are you qualified?’
But the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) and the National Union of Education (NEU) have all expressed concerns about the proposals in their feedback to the government.
UCET, which represents 94 teacher training centres in universities, said it supported the idea of a longer qualifying period in principle, but urged the government to ensure the delay “does not dissuade people from applying”.
The Department for Education must “emphasise the nurturing and supportive aspects of the proposals” rather than “present them as additional hoops” for trainees to jump through.
The warning was echoed by NASBTT, which represents about 90 per cent of school-based ITT providers and also supports the move to a longer induction period. The body fears that the “provisional” QTS would lack credibility for parents and the public.
“Any teacher holding QTS should be able to give an unequivocal affirmative answer to the question ‘are you qualified?’” it said. Instead, teachers should get the full QTS at the end of their first year and an “endorsed” QTS at the end of their second year.
“The QTS should remain where it is with all the prestige and recognition that it rightly holds, and the endorsed QTS should be awarded at the end of the longer induction period,” the organisation suggested.
However, the NEU warned that an endorsed or advanced QTS would create a “two-tier” status in which teachers who qualified under the old system have a less legitimate award.
Alison Ryan, a senior policy advisor at the NEU, claimed members agreed that any sort of extended induction period would act as a deterrent to applicants, no matter how the government spins it.
“For most people it will feel like an extra two years towards getting qualified. In fact for many the ‘supportive’ element might actually look like two more years of additional scrutiny,” she said.
Instead, the government should plan for both late and early career development. This idea has been touched on in the consultation, in the form of a “career pathway” and support for chartered teacher status developed by the Chartered College of Teaching, but she believes it still needs fleshing out.
The NEU will also echo UCET’s concern that academies and free schools are still allowed to hire unqualified teachers, meaning they would not benefit from any of the changes at all. UCET’s response called for the requirement for QTS to be reintroduced in all schools.
Meanwhile, the government must to provide central funding to schools to allow the changes to take place, NASBTT added. It is “absolutely clear” that schools currently have neither the finance nor timetable space needed to implement the longer induction period.