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Teacher Training and the White Paper – the Big Issues

There is no doubt that schools in some areas of the country are finding that recruitment and retention of high quality teachers is becoming more difficult.

The Government White Paper, “Educational Excellence Everywhere” proposes a number of changes to the training of teachers that will have far ranging implications for schools and for training providers.

The main thrust running through all proposals is to place much more focus on schools in the training, recruitment and retention of teachers. Increasingly, the “best” schools will be playing the key role in all of these elements.

By 2020 we want to build on these changes so that the school-led system is in control…

Initial Teacher Training

The overall strategy is to move to an increasingly school-led ITT system, so that the best schools have more control over how teachers are trained.

Independent working groups are working on different aspects. One is developing a framework for ITT initial content and further reforms are planned to increase the rigour of ITT content with greater emphasis on subject knowledge, practical behaviour management skills and greater understanding of evidence based practice. This will be part of new accreditation (see below).

The Teaching Schools Council is developing a new standard for ITT mentors. All groups will publish their reports in the coming months.

New high quality criteria for ITT providers will be introduced, with allocations to the best being made over several years to provide greater certainty. This will recognise:

  • the quality of training programmes;
  • the effectiveness of providers in recruiting high quality trainees;
  • the impact of those trainees on standards of teaching in schools.

This will also seek to address the problem of giving priority to certain parts of the country where recruitment is difficult.

Comment

Ensuring trainee teachers have access to the highest quality training is obviously the right priority, as is the development of good subject knowledge and practical strategies. It will be important to ensure that the focus on practical strategies is not at the expense of any consideration of pedagogy, because the very best teachers have a blend of both.

Replacement of QTS

QTS is being replaced by a “stronger, more challenging accreditation based on a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom, as judged by great schools. This new accreditation will raise the quality and status of the teaching profession…

The Paper clearly talks about raising the bar for new teachers, by giving more focus to:

  • the ability to teach well;
  • advanced subject knowledge;
  • understanding and application of up to date evidence.

Accreditation will only be achieved after teachers have demonstrated their proficiency over a sustained period in the classroom. Judgements will still be made against the Teachers’ Standards.

In reaching a decision on whether a teacher has reached the required level, the school will make a recommendation which will be ratified by a high performing school (such as a teaching school or accredited SCITT).

Academies will be able to choose whether to make this new accreditation a requirement for employment or promotion, while “considering how to weigh it against other qualifications and experience the potential a teacher may bring.

Comment

The practice of making accreditation a longer and more rigorous process should raise the quality of teachers and the status of teaching. However, there is still some detail to be ironed out. Currently teachers in their NQT year receive specific and valuable support and mentoring. It is not yet clear whether this will continue to be an integral part of the new accreditation process.

Recruitment and Retention

Strategies to improve recruitment and retention through higher quality ITT will be complemented by more equitable funding plans and changed accountability for schools in challenging areas. Funding changes however, will be phased in, meaning fairness may come more slowly than schools realise.

The DfE will create web tools to help schools advertise and access vacancies more easily. This includes a new, free national teacher vacancy website which will include part-time and job share opportunities.

Schools will be encouraged to develop part-time training routes into teaching and provide more guidance on how to make part-time and job sharing arrangements work in practice.

By 2020, the National Teaching Service will place up to 1500 high performing teachers into under-performing schools that find it difficult to recruit and retain high quality teachers.

There will be a focus on the development of teachers’ professional status by establishing an independent College of Teaching and a new, peer-reviewed British Education Journal to help spread research for teachers to improve their teaching. This will be alongside continued work with the Education Endowment Foundation.

An independent expert group of teachers, leaders and academics are creating a new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development due to be published in the Spring of 2016, setting out a gold standard for effective CPD.

These sit alongside current initiatives such as bursaries (which have been curtailed) and scholarships, Teach First, Returning Teachers, STEM subject focus, etc.

Comment

It is not entirely clear how the placement of high performing teachers in challenging schools will result in sustainable changes. It appears to be rather a simplistic view. There will be a need for cultural and systemic change alongside high quality ongoing CPD and structural leadership transformation.

The White Paper does seek to address some of these issues in Chapter 3 through MATs and the National Teaching Service, but the detail is yet to be made clear.

What is clear is that there are serious issues facing schools with reducing budgets. Changes to the funding tied to the Indices of Deprivation mean that many schools are facing unforeseen cuts to budgets, resulting in a need to make teachers and support staff redundant, with a resultant effect upon provision. This is in addition to teacher pay rises, an increase in employer-paid pension contributions and higher national insurance rates for employers – all unfunded. These alone mean every teaching post will cost approximately 5% extra per year.

How can we help?

We have two products which can help in addressing some of the issues outlined above within the White Paper, especially in schools who give high credence to support and professional development. Lessons Learned – Staff Appraisal and Development Module and Lessons Learned – Teaching and Learning Development Module.

For more information or to arrange a free online demo please call 0800 788 0444, email support@llo.org.uk, or use the online booking form on our Lessons Learned website by clicking the link below:

http://www.lessonslearned.com/request-a-demo/.

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