Exclusive: Phonics and maths mastery expected in new teacher training curriculum

Ministerial influence criticised as ‘tight control’ feared over core content for initial teacher training

Maths mastery and phonics are expected to be emphasised in the forthcoming core curriculum for initial teacher training, TES can reveal.

A “high-level” document, due to be published in the next few weeks, is expected to steer clear of prescribing exact content. But it is understood from sources who have seen drafts that some specific areas have been included.

The mention of maths mastery techniques, which reduce the amount of differentiated teaching, and the emphasis on phonics – first introduced into the qualified teacher status standards in 2012 – will reignite debate over the balance of educational theory and practical techniques in teacher training.

‘Leave it to the profession’

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said: “This should be a high-level document about ensuring that teachers have got good subject knowledge relating to the school curriculum, a sensible statement to ensure they are trained in the teaching of key concepts and knowledge of the national curriculum.

“But it’s not left at that. It becomes very precise and detailed. What the government should be doing is broad policy direction. But leave the rest to the profession, whether it is teacher trainers or teachers, and then hold them to account. That is the mantra they preach, but they practice tight control.”

The review of the initial teacher training (ITT) curriculum was led by Stephen Munday, chief executive of Comberton Academy Trust, and was due to report in the spring 2016. The findings are currently with ministers and are expected to be released soon.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The report is being considered by ministers and will be published in due course.”

This is an edited article from the 1 July edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here

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