There should be a revised three-year teacher training route, and schools should be given extra funding to provide it, argues Emma Hollis
Today’s announcement about the QTS consultation is welcome – however, ‘strengthened’ QTS is not the right term. This implies that training is not strong, when actually 99% of teacher training providers are rated good or better.
Whilst the proposals include a requirement for teachers to undertake two years of additional in-school training after completing their initial teacher training programme, we expect that schools will see funding as a stumbling block and will feed this back in the consultation.
Currently the issue is that professional development support is not routinely available to teachers in their second year and, whilst teachers in their first year are entitled to additional non-contact time to allow for further professional development, the type and quality of support provided is widely variable across schools.
In order for early career professional development to include a structured entitlement to CPD, there will need to be significant investment in order to support schools in its delivery.
As part of this, we back the proposed ‘entitlement to support’ and are clear this should be given by accredited external providers – naturally we also welcome the specific idea of allowing ITT providers to act as the appropriate bodies responsible for overseeing the award of QTS.
NQTs would be exposed to ways of thinking that might differ from those they have been exposed to in school
Our preference remains for teachers to still be awarded QTS at the end of the initial teacher training programme, but then gain ‘enhanced’ or ‘embedded’ QTS after a further period of professional development and support.
However, any resulting model must include scope for collaboration between schools, SCITTs and universities as equal partners in planning and delivering early career professional development to build on the excellent foundations already being achieved in the initial teacher training sector. So what might this look like?
Our vision is for a revised three-year teacher training route.
In year one, we would have school-based practice focusing on pedagogy and relationship building to help teacher trainees become ready to ‘hit the ground running’ in their NQT year. We would look at the realities of the classroom, practical advice on class management, curriculum planning, time management, marking and feedback and subject knowledge for teaching. As is now the case, QTS would be awarded at the end of this year.
In year two, during the NQT year, time would be set aside for academic study with a focus on reflection. At this point, they have some ‘practice’ to reflect on and can assimilate the theory behind many of the practical techniques they will already be aware of. NQTs would be exposed to ways of thinking that might differ from those they have been exposed to in school and will widen perspectives from a place of practical knowledge.
In year three, teachers will have a sense of what interests them, what type of teacher they are or would like to become. They would use this year to focus on a research area which either meets their personal interests or a need within their school. Funded time would be given to write a dissertation exploring this area of interest (this could contribute towards Master’s qualification or Chartered Teacher Status) and thus feed back into the system research carried out by a practising teacher based on real-life examples which support their hypotheses.
Whilst we understand that ours is a specific model – albeit one we have thought through and one we feel works – generally we are seeking four outcomes from this consultation.
Firstly, recognition that access to high quality professional development for teaching staff, both in their early careers and throughout their working lives, should be an entitlement and not a lottery based on if the school in which they happen to work values professional development.
Secondly, sufficient funding for schools to allow their staff the time they need to develop their knowledge and skills and become well-rounded, highly educated and respected professionals.
Thirdly, support for the Chartered College of Teaching which is seeking to develop a Chartered Status for the profession and which needs continued support of government.
And finally, a commitment to allowing sufficient lead-in time for policy changes to avoid uncertainty and confusion within the system.
Emma Hollis is Executive Director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT)