Snubbed ITT provider asked to stay open due to ‘black hole’

The case highlights ongoing concerns around the ITT market review, held against a backdrop of chronic teacher under-recruitment

The case highlights ongoing concerns around the ITT market review, held against a backdrop of chronic teacher under-recruitment

20 Jan 2023, 15:00

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An outstanding ITT provider that did not meet the requirements for 2024-25 has been asked to partner due to cold spots

A snubbed teacher training provider rated ‘outstanding’ was asked to stay open and partner with someone else after the controversial ITT market review created a “black hole” of provision in its region.

North Wiltshire SCITT (NWSCITT) was among the providers that the government concluded did not meet its requirements for 2024-25.

The controversial review was to weed out poor-quality providers for a “more effective system”. Of the current 229 providers, just 179 got accreditation. 

George Croxford, the chief executive of Ascend Learning Trust that runs NWSCITT, said: “We’re absolutely horrified and genuinely angry that they have destroyed a fantastic SCITT.”

But he said that Department for Education officials later asked the SCITT if it would be willing to work with another provider because of a shortage of provision in its area. 

“I thought ‘are you having a laugh? You’ve created the gap and now you’re coming to us… You said we’re not good enough to do it, and you want us to fill that gap for you?’”

The case highlights concerns about the review, held against a background of chronic teacher recruitment issues.

Several areas could have just one ITT provider from 2024

NWSCITT previously offered up to 80 primary and secondary ITT places a year, but will now close in its current guise in August next year.

While it may partner with an accredited provider, it is concerned it will no longer directly receive the full £9,250 funding per trainee.

Wiltshire has just two ITT providers and could go down to one from next year. Cumbria and Cornwall are in the same position.

After all appeals were turned down in December, many providers are still in discussions over partnerships – so the full effect of the market review is yet to be laid bare.

Based on accredited numbers, London’s providers will fall from 37 to 29. Essex and Manchester will both lose five, falling to 13 and eight respectively. However, three providers will work nationally.

The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers said some of its members have already decided to close.

“The brutal process that they’ve been put through, and the ultimate insult and injustice of not being accredited has led them to make painful decisions about closure,” said Emma Hollis, its executive director. 

MP condemns review as ‘tick-box, form-filling exercise’

Speaking in the Commons this week, Peter Gibson, the Tory MP for Darlington, questioned “why on earth” the ‘outstanding’ Carmel Teacher Training Partnership was “stripped of its accreditation … by a tick-box, form-filling exercise, destroying 20 years of hard work and leaving the north east worse off?”

Gibson later told Schools Week: “Nobody actually came along and carried out some kind of on-the-ground, face-to-face meetings and assessments, which is really troubling and worrying. 

“The north east is an important area for the levelling-up agenda; it’s an area that struggles to recruit and retain teachers. So losing that capacity in our region is, in my view, really damaging.”

The ‘good’-rated Forest Independent Primary Collegiate in London also lost its accreditation, but hopes to form a partnership. 

Helen Tyler, its director who has 25 years of experience in teacher training, said: “The impact on our wellbeing has been awful. Especially after Covid, why disrupt a successful provider?”  

The government hopes the 21 new providers it has accredited will fill the gaps. 

New ITT providers will use expertise already ‘in the system’

But Tyler said new entrants lacked expertise. She claimed that she and other ITT directors had been approached with offers of “large sums of money” to join new teams.

Cumbria’s two providers – the University of Cumbria and Cumbria Teacher Training – were both unsuccessful.

In a statement, the university said it was currently in discussions about a partnership with UCL.

But accredited provision in the county will be replaced by the new One Cumbria Teaching School Hub, run by the West Lakes Multi-Academy Trust.

Judith Schafer, its director, said there was a sound basis for the market review as “things needed looking at”.

While it was “not easy” to “dismantle” providers that lost accreditation, she said there was “plenty of room for partnerships”.

“I’m a new provider – new kid on the block – I’m certainly not arrogant about it. I’m absolutely aware that it’s a big job and we will need to work hard to make sure the provision is as good as it can be, but part of that is working with experts and expertise that’s in the system.”

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, said on Monday the reforms were a “key part of the government’s commitment to levelling-up and ensuring that high-quality teachers are there for every child”.

He said the review was “robust” and that ITT provision was “also expanding through partnership”.

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