Allocate teacher training places ‘on different timetable’, event hears

Places for initial teacher training should be allocated on a two- or three-year cycle to ease budgeting and staffing concerns at universities

March 10, 2015

That was the view of speakers at a debate last week on the future of initial teacher training provision in England.

A panel including James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, and Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, agreed that current annual allocations made it difficult for institutions to plan properly.

Dr Bousted said the year-on-year allocations – which are made by the National College for Teaching and Leadership – gave universities “no stability whatsoever”.

“When you marry that with the fact that Ofsted is always with you and the rest of the university doesn’t really understand Ofsted or ITT, then it does make the HEI ask a lot of questions [about the viability of courses],” she said.

Mr Noble-Rogers said that if you look at the situation from a “purely budgetary point of view”, would institutions commit to keep staff on if “you don’t know from one year to the next how many teachers you are going to be expected to train?”

Dr Bousted was particularly scathing of the NCTL. Responding to a question from Times Higher Education about whether it would be too late to reverse the coalition’s drive towards a school-led teacher training system if a different party triumphs in May’s general election, Dr Bousted said the NCTL would have to be reformed.

“If you look at the Labour Party…or the speech that David Laws [Lib Dem schools minister] gave in January, they talk about ‘refreshing’ the NCTL,” she said. “What that means, if we have a Labour or Labour-Lib Dem coalition, the NCTL will not survive in its current form.

“It’s judged not to have succeeded and indeed to have made the teacher supply very much worse. If the current government stays in power…the performance of the NCTL will have to be looked at.”

By making the HEI base of ITT allocations “dangerously insecure”, she added, the NCTL has risked teacher supply.

“There’s a huge amount of underpinning that HEIs do for the infrastructure of ITT, and if you take that away you end up with problems,” she said.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said its school-led teacher training programme School Direct was “a key part of our plan for education”.

“It not only gives headteachers more influence and control over the way teachers are trained and recruited, but it is also helping to drive up standards across the profession; ensuring teachers arrive in the classroom with the skills and training needed to prepare pupils for life in modern Britain,” she said.

john.elmes@tesglobal.com

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