White Paper: What does it mean for teacher training?

There will be a return to the allocations system for initial teacher training places, the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere confirmed today.

The government has pledged to look into making multi-year allocations to provide greater certainty to the providers, and looks set to abandon this year’s free-for-all system which providers have described as “disastrous”.

“We very much welcome the commitment to allow ITT providers to plan their provision through the allocation of places for several years,” said James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET). “Much will however depend on the detail. The key focus should be on supplying schools with the well trained teachers they need. Universities, schools and SCITTs should work together to meet that need.”

This year no individual universities or schools were allocated teacher training places for September 2016 – instead every provider was told they could recruit candidates until a national limit was reached.

But the system has been extremely unpopular with both universities and school-centered initial teacher training (Scitt) providers saying that it incentivised providers to fill places as quickly as possible rather than wait for the best quality candidates, has led to some Scitts being having to turn candidates away despite having schools saying they need trainees and risked destabilising high-quality courses.

The government also appears to acknowledge a regional strategy is needed – saying the the reform will look at making sure that ITT is delivered “where new entrants are most needed”.

It comes after a highly critical report on the teacher training system from the National Audit Office which pointed out that the government missed its recruitment targets for four years running and had a “weak understanding” or the extent of local teacher supply shortages and whether they were being locally resolved.

Martin Thompson, executive director of the National Association of School-based Teacher Trainers, said: “We’re broadly quite pleased with the fact that there is going to be some element of planning of teacher training places in the longer term and that there seems to be some idea that recruitment to ITT will have a regional focus.”

Today, the government announced that: “We will reform our allocation of teacher training places so that ITT is delivered by the best Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and school-led providers where new entrants are most needed, where places are most likely to be filled, and where training is most likely to be delivered well.

“We will also continue to increase the proportion of ITT offered by the best schools – those up-to-date with what works best in the classroom and with the keenest interest in maintaining rigorous ITT standards – and provide greater certainty to the best school and HEI providers by exploring ways to offer multi-year allocations.”

The White Paper also says it will continue to move to an increasingly school-led ITT system with a “major expansion” of Scitts. Mr Noble-Rogers said that the idea of universities establishing “centres of excellence” in ITT, was “very interesting”, but added there should be scope to develop new university as well as Scitt provision in areas of need.

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