The first university rated ‘outstanding’ under Ofsted’s new teacher training inspection framework is among those snubbed over re-accreditation in the first round of the controversial ITT review.
The University of Nottingham said it was “disappointed and perplexed” by the decision. Only 80 of the 216 providers – just over a third – that applied went through in the first round.
Other rejected organisations spoke of being treated “disgracefully”, while even successful providers described a “challenging” and “stressful” process.
Under the review, all providers have to apply for re-accreditation to continue training from 2024. But, while the government anticipated its reforms would disrupt the market, the low numbers threaten to exacerbate current recruitment woes.
Although it defended its “rigorous” process and urged providers to apply again later this month, the Department for Education admitted this week that it may now need to run a third round.
Among the 136 providers rejected are several organisations that have received Ofsted’s seal of approval under its new ITT inspection framework, which has seen many providers downgraded.
The finding is even more surprising as Ofsted was involved in assessing applications.
Nottingham’s teacher training provision was rated ‘outstanding’ across the board when it was inspected in March.
Inspectors found trainees appreciated the “remarkable efforts taken by leaders, tutors and mentors to ensure that they succeed”.
Students gained a “scholarly understanding of the role of the teacher and are extremely well prepared for the realities of the classroom” and followed an “exceptional curriculum…taught by experts”.
‘Disappointed and perplexed’
But the university told Schools Week it was unsuccessful in the first re-accreditation round.
“We are very disappointed and perplexed by this result, as it came so soon after we received confirmation from Ofsted that we had become the first university to be rated as ‘outstanding’ under the current inspection framework,” a spokesperson said.
They added that they were “confident a resubmission would be successful and we are currently considering our response”.
The University of Wolverhampton’s primary and secondary provision was rated “good” across the board last May but the faculty learned on Monday that it had not been re-accredited, after missing the total score needed by “just one point”. It will re-apply next month.
Professor Diana Bannister said the process was a “disruptive and a deliberate threat to destabilise the initial teacher education pipeline when recruitment and retention to the profession are already challenged”.
We were left having a stab in the dark
Another SCITT recently rated ‘good’ claimed the DfE had failed to read its application properly and said it had received “no support whatsoever. We were left having a stab in the dark.”
It also claimed that some providers were encouraged by the DfE to “tweak” their applications ahead of the announcement. But others, including their SCITT, were not. The DfE did not deny the allegations.
It asked: “Was this because there were even fewer providers who actually passed and there was a panic? And, if these providers were offered support, why were not all providers given the same opportunity?”
‘We have been treated disgracefully’
Another ‘good’ provider said submissions were limited in length, but it then failed because of a lack of detail which it was “impossible to give within the word limit”.
It added: “I feel we have been treated disgracefully. I put my heart and soul into teacher training.
“The idea that a large, effective organisation such as ours should be swept away by a process based on written answers with no possibility of appeal is too much.”
Some providers chose not to apply in the first round, either to give themselves more time or because of plans to merge.
The Deepings SCITT in Lincolnshire, also rated “good” under the new framework, did not want to “risk” accreditation, instead planning to join forces with a larger provider.
But director Nikki Benjamin said the SCITT’s proposed new partner was not re-accredited, although they plan to reapply.
ITT review timing is ‘awful’
“The timing is awful – I will of course support in the re-write of the bid, but we are now into assessment season for the current cohort and induction for the next, so capacity is an issue.”
Even successful organisations criticised the process. Middlesex University said the ordeal was “very challenging”, while National Modern Languages SCITT director Katrin Sredzki-Seamer said it was “very stressful and a drain on our resources”.
“Many feel that this process may not have been fair.”
The DfE said the accreditation process was “intentionally rigorous” and it was “confident in the robustness” of its assessments.
Schools minister Robin Walker encouraged submissions in round two so “together we can continue to develop and grow teacher training”.
Emma Hollis, from the National Association of School-Based Teacher Training, said ministers “will want to avoid a potentially catastrophic risk to the teacher supply chain – and quality and availability of provision – which would come from losing significant numbers of providers from the market”.
The government has hit its teacher recruitment targets just once in the past nine years.
Round two opens next Monday and runs to June 27. A list of successful applicants from both rounds will be published in the autumn.