Teacher training

Staff have to ‘drop something’ to fit in ECF, provider admits

Here's what we learned from the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers annual conference this week

Here's what we learned from the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers annual conference this week

Teachers will have to prioritise their professional development “at the expense” of other activities in schools, a provider of the government’s new early career framework (ECF) has warned.

Faye Craster, Teach First’s director of teacher development, said one of the “challenges” for the ECF was the “step change for the expectations” of new teachers and mentors on the “commitment to professional development.”

The ECF is a two-year package of induction for new teachers, which was introduced in pilot areas last year and rolled out nationwide this September.

Under the framework, teachers are supposed to get a five per cent timetable reduction in their second year in the classroom for development, and more experienced staff should be freed up to be mentors.

But Craster warned this week that this “has to be at the expense of something else”.

“I don’t think we talk about this enough. What is this ‘something else’ that has to drop to allow our early career teachers and mentors to focus on their development?”

Nicky Platt, lead education advisor at the Education Development Trust, another ECF provider, said a “big” challenge was mentor workload and the “sheer bandwidth” required to engage properly.

Craster warned that in small schools, most teachers either already had responsibilities or were new to the job.

“We have data coming back from mentors who are on senior leadership teams, are also induction tutors, have a teaching and learning responsibility.”

This week, 97 per cent of 160 initial teacher training providers said they were concerned about the time and capacity for mentoring in schools.

ITT review ‘not about size’

The government’s review of the initial teacher training market is not an attempt to push smaller providers out of the sector, a Department for Education official has said.

Under the controversial plans, the DfE wants all providers to re-accredit against new quality requirements. This prompted concerns some school-centred initial teacher trainers and universities could be pushed out of the market.

But Ruth Talbot, DfE’s deputy director of Train to Teach, told NASBTT’s conference the review was “not about size, it’s not about scale, this is about quality”.

“There is no preference for one type of provider over another. It’s about none of those things.

“If your provision is capable of delivering the quality vision set out in the review, then that’s the thing to ask yourself.”

She also said there was “no prescribed number of providers” being discussed.

The government is expected to respond to its consultation in the coming weeks.

Providers ‘alarmingly’ teach ‘specific pedagogies’

A senior Ofsted inspector warned that some ITT providers inspected under the new framework were “misinforming trainees” by covering only specific pedagogies.

The watchdog started inspecting ITT provision under a new framework this year, resulting in two-thirds of school-age providers inspected so far being downgraded.

Helen Matthews told the NASBTT conference that “rather alarmingly”, there were “less than good” providers “selling specific pedagogies” as the “be all and end all, the gold standard.

“Rather than actually teaching trainees that there are lots of pedagogies out there… what we found sometimes, which was actually quite alarming, is where partnerships had chosen a particular pedagogy.

“I use Bloom’s [taxonomy] as an example – and basically they were selling this to their trainees so that everything the trainees did… had to be around the pedagogy of Bloom’s.”

Bloom’s taxonomy is an educational theory that looks at cognitive, affective and sensory learning. However, experts have questioned whether was even a pedagogy.

Matthews added: “That clearly is misinforming trainees, and many of you will know that a lot of Bloom’s theories have been discredited.” She did not name the providers in question.

Bursaries impact diversity

Higher teacher training bursaries increase the chances of men and career changers applying, while appearing to decrease the proportion of black and Asian applicants, new research shows.

NASBTT and the National Foundation for Education Research found that a £10,000 increase in a bursary was associated with a 29 per cent increase in applications overall.

The bursary rise is also associated with a two percentage point increase in the proportion of applicants who are age 40 and over, and of male applicants.

London-based applicants are less responsive to bursaries than other regions. The £10,000 bursary increase was also associated with a one percentage point increase in the proportion of white applicants.

Researchers estimate a “small but statistically significant” association between a bursary increase and a drop in the proportion of applicants who are black and Asian.

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