Uni marking boycott: DfE suspends teacher trainee degree requirement

Graduates now able to start ITT courses before getting their degree this year after temporary rule change

Graduates now able to start ITT courses before getting their degree this year after temporary rule change

14 Jun 2023, 15:22

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The DfE has announced changes to the way ITT candidates are recruited over UCU marking boycotts

Prospective trainee teachers whose undergraduate degrees are delayed as a result of the university marking boycott will be able to start courses in September after government changed the rules.

It comes after Schools Week reported last week that the Department for Education (DfE) was assessing the “scale and likelihood” of possible disruption to courses.

University and College Union (UCU) members are taking action short of a strike in a dispute over pay, affecting 145 institutions and including a marking and assessment boycott.

It means exam results or coursework marks could be delayed, with some students unable to receive their degree before the end of the academic year.

In a blog post published today, DfE said it had the “potential” to impact initial teacher training (ITT) as candidates “usually need to prove that they have received their degree to start postgraduate courses”.

Universities and school-led providers will this year be able to recruit trainees whose degree status has not yet been confirmed, government said.

This will ensure “all good candidates will be able to start their courses in September”.

But providers will need to make sure recruits’ graduate status has been confirmed before they complete their ITT course.

The DfE is not directly involved in the university pay dispute, as pay is set by individual institutions.

“However, we want this disagreement resolved in a way that avoids disrupting students’ learning, especially given the difficulties students have faced during the pandemic,” the blog said.

“We strongly encourage a resolution that delivers good value for students, staff and universities.”

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said the move was a “pragmatic” solution and a “step in the right direction”.

He added that it showed the DfE had “learnt from Covid” that rules could feasibly be relaxed in exceptional circumstances.

“But we’ll be keeping an eye out for any potential issues that might crop up,” he said.

This included the “extent to which you can accurately predict degree classifications”, given that recruits in receipt of teaching bursaries must receive a 2:2 or higher in their undergraduate degree. 

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