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World Class Teacher Training

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Professor Lynne McKenna MBE, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University of Sunderland, says she feels “honoured” to have been keynote speaker at the Department for Education (DfE) 2023 national launch of iQTS. 

iQTS is a UK government-backed international teaching qualification, recognised by the DfE as equivalent to English Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

In 2021, the DfE announced that the University were successful in their bid to be one of five pilot providers of iQTS, a flagship new International Qualified Teacher Status programme starting in September 2022. The success of the pilot, which recruited 41 international student teachers in 2022, ensured that the University of Sunderland was seen as world leading with this important new provision and was the largest provider of iQTS.

The 2023 national launch of iQTS in September, was of particular significance for the University as the staff and students involved were able to share their expertise in the area through a keynote address from Professor McKenna, a presentation around student support from a ‘Distance not Distant’ perspective by Dionne Ross, the University’s Associate Head of School: International Initial Teacher Training. 

Professor McKenna said:

“As the only member of the two DfE iQTS Expert Working Groups, I have invested considerable time and effort in making the introduction of iQTS a success. I am honoured to have been invited to speak at the two launch events, one in 2022 and the event in September 2023.

“The new iQTS qualification is a significant development for the DfE. The UK is recognised as a world leader in Initial Teacher Training and I am delighted that we can offer world leading training and education in a bid to support the global teacher recruitment and retention crisis.

“At the University of Sunderland, our reputation goes before us in this area and our PGCE iQTS and is recognized as offering exactly the same programme and support as our on campus PGCE’s with QTS. We are extremely proud to be the largest provider of iQTS and very much look forward to forthcoming years.”

To top off the day one of our graduates Rob Murphy spoke passionately about the fantastic staff and support he received whilst on the PGCE iQTS Secondary Education programme and encouraged all graduates to take every opportunity for growth and reflection.

Mr. John Gwyn Jones, CEO of FOBISIA spoke highly of the University of Sunderland’s track record in delivering quality distance learning teacher training programmes and highlighted how much he was looking forward to Professor McKenna presenting at the FOBISIA conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in November 2023. 

Professor McKenna said:

“The University of Sunderland began our work as a distance learning teacher training provider in 1999 with three trainees in Dubai as a pilot to test whether we could utilise our experience of delivering UK teacher training to the international sector.

“Prior to the launch of the pilot IQTS in 2022, our two PGCE teacher training programmes consistently recruited approximately 1,000 students worldwide. With around 80 staff working in the UK and internationally, we are proud providers of international initial teacher training and continuing professional development masters provision.”

The last 10 years have seen the number of international schools increasing by more than 50% with the figure now at 13,190. There has also been a 53% rise in student enrollment to 6.5 million. UNESCO estimate that 69 million teachers are needed globally to provide universal basic education by 2030.

Professor McKenna said:

“Alongside issues of recruitment and retention, the skills needed for the teaching profession in the 21st Century are changing rapidly. The OECD Future of Education and Skills 2030 report highlights that trends such as globalisation and advances in artificial intelligence are changing the demands of the labour market and the skills needed for workers to succeed. The emphasis is on people needing:

‘to rely even more on their uniquely (so far) human capacity for creativity, responsibility and the ability to “learn to learn” throughout their life. Social and emotional skills, such as empathy, self-awareness, respect for others and the ability to communicate, are becoming essential as classrooms and workplaces become more ethnically, culturally and linguistically diverse.’

Professor McKenna continued:

“Our strength in delivering distance learning teacher training lies in the design of the programme and the exceptional infrastructure of support for the trainees. Our course, which blends applied teaching theory and practice in three taught modules and one extended assessed teaching practice module, has been developed so that it can be delivered to primary secondary and post 16 teachers with any subject specialism.

“Our philosophy is informed by our ethos of ‘distance not distant’. This means that all trainees have a parity of experience which is consistent with our UK campus trainees optimising the technologies available to us.

“The future is very bright for PGCE iQTS at the University of Sunderland. We are the largest provider of iQTS and we have ambitious plans to develop our provision. We are creating an Online Unit to provide core administrative support for the iQTS and PGCE provision. This will ensure that day-to-day activity sits within one area, and, through smooth integration with other areas of the University, ensure an excellent student experience.

“Further expansion of the team is also in our growth plan signaling that this provision is extremely important to the faculty and the University.

“But, more important than that, we consider our PGCE IQTS to be a potential solution to the global teacher recruitment and retention crisis.”

In 2023, the DfE announced an additional 10 new providers of iQTS. As provision and demand for this qualification grows, so does the staff team and the student cohorts. In 2023, the University is offering two opportunities for students to enrol on the programme, one starting in September and one in February 2024, Recruitment for the September 2023 cohort has been strong with 100 students joining the programme, thus cementing our position as the largest provider of iQTS.

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