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Latest statements on UK Government ITT market review report

Faculty of Education statement on the UK Government response to the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review

1 December, 2021

The recommendations in the Government response to the ITT Market Review consultation involve a number of notable changes to the original proposals which were published in July. While we welcome some of these modifications, we have significant concerns about a number of important inconsistencies which continue to prescribe and constrain how teacher training should be delivered. The Faculty will be seeking further clarification about these from the Government.

As we have explained in previous statements, the Faculty supports the underpinning aspiration for consistently high quality ITT across the entire sector. In order to achieve this, it is important to ensure that any reforms not only guarantee high quality, but also build on well-established processes that already exist.

In this context, it is encouraging that the Government response now states the importance of provider autonomy and the use of the latest and most robust research evidence available.

We are concerned, however, that a number of the proposals enforce a high level of standardisation which would constrain our ability to provide an innovative, personalised curriculum, which is fundamental to high-quality, evidence-informed teacher education. The Faculty therefore remains concerned about several key recommendations in the response. These include:

  • The requirements for trainees to undergo stipulated periods of “intensive training and practice”, in addition to existing placement time. This would significantly reduce the existing opportunities we provide for trainees to fully engage with the latest evidence in their subject areas and age group.

  • While some points on mentoring have changed, the proposals need to go much further in permitting flexibility around mentoring. The current requirement for mentors to fulfil prescribed training criteria and time demands would divert teachers from their core responsibilities for classroom teaching and learning.

  • The requirements concerning accreditation. As an already-accredited provider ourselves, we acknowledge the importance of providers being accredited. However, the current proposals involve meeting a detailed set of prescriptions which would limit providers’ ability to draw on their own expertise to prepare new teachers for diverse settings and to support pupils with different needs.

  • The two accreditation rounds currently envisaged, the deadline for the first of which is in February, involve an unrealistic timescale.

Along with many colleagues from across the sector, the Faculty has actively engaged in conversations with DfE officials about its plans in recent weeks to make sure the proposals succeed in delivering high-quality ITT provision across the country. We are concerned that the review contains important inconsistencies. We would welcome the opportunity for further constructive dialogue given that these outstanding matters remain to be addressed.

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Teacher education at Cambridge and the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review: facts, figures and further information.

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University of Cambridge statement on the UK Government Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review report

05 July 2021

The University of Cambridge prepares around 300 new teachers to enter the profession every year; many in priority subject areas such as STEM disciplines. Our PGCE courses have repeatedly been rated ‘outstanding’ by different reviewers, across multiple inspection frameworks. These assessments consistently highlight our close partnership with more than 250 state schools, where our trainees spend the large majority of their course; our ambitious curriculum which draws on our expertise as a world-leading centre for education research; and our team of teacher-educators, who have decades of experience in teaching and training.

We support this review’s objective of promoting consistently high-quality teacher training, but we are deeply concerned that the proposals themselves would require us to adopt a model within which we could no longer guarantee the high standards we have achieved to date.

There are a number of reasons for this, but in particular, the single model of training proposed would obstruct our delivery of a flexible, highly-personalised, innovative curriculum, responsive to trainees’ and schools’ needs and based on the best available research. The evidence overwhelmingly shows there is no single ‘right’ way to train teachers to work in diverse settings and to support pupils with different needs. The proposals could erode long-standing partnerships with, and create a number of serious challenges for, partner schools who have themselves contributed to and greatly enriched the design of our programmes for trainees. In addition, the distinction made between accredited providers and delivery partners poses serious challenges. These, and several other specific concerns will be reflected in more detail in our response to the consultation.

The University cannot in all good faith accept or offer aspiring teachers a programme that would lower standards in this way. Now, more than ever, children need teachers of the highest possible quality. These recommendations would compromise the essential characteristics of programmes such as ours, which are already producing outstanding teachers, year after year.

We recognise that these are only recommendations. Were they to be implemented, however, then with great regret we would see little option but to review the viability of Initial Teacher Education at the University of Cambridge. We have therefore asked the Government to adjust the proposals to accommodate the continued delivery of University-based PGCE courses. Programmes such as ours are already providing new teachers with the very best education, training and development opportunities and, through them, shaping the education of countless children for the better. We very much hope that the Government will take the necessary steps to allow us to continue to do so.

Professor Graham Virgo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education
Professor Susan Robertson, Head of the Faculty of Education

You may also be interested in:

Teacher education at Cambridge and the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review: facts, figures and further information.

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