The Geographical Association’s ITE Report 2015, which analysed geography teacher training and teacher supply in England, sheds further light on the disruptions that the shift in government policy towards a school-led system has caused in areas including teaching quality and teacher supply.
Alan Kinder, the GA’s chief executive, told Times Higher Education there was a “growing concern right across education” about whether the system “we now have in place is securing sufficient numbers of qualified teachers to do the job that’s required”.
“I think there has to be a question mark over that,” he added. “And what is coming out [from the ITE sector] is that the problem is becoming more, not less, acute.”
One of the main concerns for the GA is the position of “subject-specific knowledge and pedagogy” in training. The report finds that “the amount of subject-specialist input is very variable”.
“Some school-led partnerships rely heavily on generic training because they have not secured the expertise of an ITE geography leader,” it says. “The GA’s research revealed a wide range of provision in subject-specialist input in geography ITE, from under 30 hours in one [school-led centre] to over 200 hours in a university-led scheme.”
Mr Kinder said he had anecdotal evidence of “postgraduate secondary training courses where they were going down to 20 hours of secondary input”. He said this wide variation is “unacceptable”.
“We simply can’t see how someone can be readied for secondary teaching if they’re not being prepared properly in all the aspects you would expect,” he added.
The research undertaken by the GA involved correspondence with 68 schools and ITE providers, analysis of questionnaires on ITE and teacher recruitment from 17 schools and school-centred initial teacher training providers (SCITTs) alongside in-depth interviews with 10 ITE providers.
James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet) welcomed the GA report, which he said was “relevant not just to geography but to all subjects and phases”.
“A stable and sustainable schools-led system that is based on genuine partnerships between universities and schools is an achievable objective,” he told Times Higher Education. “But it will require some re-thinking on the part of the incoming government.”