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£35.7 million plans to develop world class teachers through high-quality training and support

Government confirms reforms for initial teacher training (ITT) to ensure all children and young people receive an excellent education

New plans, backed by £35.7 million, will ensure trainees get high-quality mentoring support from experienced teachers. All teachers to benefit from evidence-based intensive training and practice

Trainee teachers will benefit from high-quality mentoring and increased time on school placements, through government reforms to drive up teacher training standards.

The government is today (1 December) confirming reforms to initial teacher training (ITT) courses, following consultation feedback from the sector, in order to drive up standards and ensure every child and young person can be taught by a brilliant teacher.

The reforms are backed by £35.7 million, with £25 million allocated to ensure trainees can receive high-quality mentoring support from experienced teachers and other experts – a key requirement of the new course standards.

The measures also require training providers to ensure that all courses have an evidence-based curriculum, are subject to quality assurance checks, and include at least four weeks of intensive training to strengthen the link between evidence-based theory and practice.

To ensure that every pupil receives a great education wherever they live, all training providers will go through a rigorous accreditation process against the new quality standards, ready to start delivering new ITT courses from September 2024.

Schools Minister Robin Walker said:

“We want this country to be the best place to become a brilliant teacher, and that starts with high-quality initial teacher training.

“It is vital that every trainee gets the support they need to help students achieve their potential and level up opportunity across the country – especially as we help them catch-up after the impact of the pandemic.

“These reforms, developed with the sector, are the next step in our ambition to create a golden thread of evidence-based training, support and professional development, which will run through each phase of a teacher’s career.”

The plans reflect feedback from the sector following a seven-week consultation launched in July based on recommendations from a review of the ITT market led by Ian Bauckham, chair of the Expert Advisory Group.

The changes to drive up standards for initial teacher training include:

  • New intensive training and practice;
  • New lead mentors for trainees
  • Rigorous quality assurance arrangements to ensure a high-quality experience for every trainee;
  • Accrediting all ITT providers based on the new Quality Requirements;
  • Utilising Teaching School Hubs to support training providers, especially locally and in disadvantaged communities.

The reforms to ITT follow a wide range of measures already taken by the government to create world-leading training and support for teachers at every stage of their career.

These include the launch of the Early Career Framework reforms in September, which provide all new teachers with a funded entitlement to a structured 2-year package of high-quality professional development at the start of their careers as well as the launch of a reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications for teachers and leaders in autumn.

Sector Response

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Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“We are pleased the government has at least heard the concerns of the NEU and others in the sector in its response to the ITT Market Review consultation.

“The delay by a full year to the new requirements is welcome, as are some of the other amendments to the requirements on providers and schools.

“However, the overall reaccreditation of providers is still a cause for concern as is the extent of change at this still precarious time, and we will examine the Government’s response to each of the proposals in detail.”

Sara Ford, Deputy Director of Policy at the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“We welcome the Department for Education’s recognition of the significant concerns raised about some of their proposals on ITT and the recognition that a longer implementation timeline will be needed, as we had suggested.

“In particular, we welcome the decision not to proceed with further exploration of how involvement in ITT might be included in the education inspection framework.

“We remain cautious about the need for a fundamental review of the ITT market at this time, with our main concern being the potential impact of the proposals on schools. Their primary focus must continue to be on education recovery and they will need time to be able to embed the proposed early career framework changes.

“It is imperative that these proposals have the support of all involved in ITT, including providers and schools. We look forward to working with the DfE on this crucial work over the coming months.”

A Russell Group spokesperson said:

“Russell Group universities work with over 2,500 schools to train more than 5,500 teachers each year and we share the Government’s ambition to deliver the highest possible standard of teacher training. We have welcomed engagement with Government over the Market Review proposals and are pleased it has considered feedback from the sector and addressed some of the concerns we had.

“Government’s response shows a clear recognition of the importance of provider autonomy, research-led training and the strong partnerships our universities have with schools. However, some of the requirements remain overly prescriptive, for example those relating to the time trainees spend in school placements, which could reduce the time students can spend in the university environment and limit universities’ ability to provide innovative and flexible curricula.

“It is positive that the Government has indicated there will be a more streamlined re-accreditation process alongside a longer timeline for implementation, however we remain concerned about some of the details in the accreditation guidance and the timeframe of the process, especially given some of the new requirements may require substantial restructuring of courses.

“We hope that Government will be able to reconsider these requirements and would encourage further engagement with the sector to ensure there is a smooth process that does not disrupt teacher training.”

Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“NAHT is pleased to see that, in its response to the ITT ‘market review’ consultation, the Department for Education has amended many of the report’s recommendations and, crucially, bought more time to work with the sector to introduce reforms.

“As ever, the devil will be in the detail of the government’s response. It is critical that any changes to teacher training improve stability and increase supply of well trained teachers in the subjects and areas of the country that need them most.”

Ian Bauckham, CEO of Tenax Schools trust and Chair of the ITT Market Review Expert Advisory Group, said:  

“Teachers are at the heart of our schools and education system. It is teachers who make the difference to the life chances of their students, that is why the training of teachers should be our highest priority.

“Taken together these reforms are a once in a generation opportunity to revolutionise teacher training. Great professional training, based on the best experience and evidence, and supported by great mentors, has the power to change lives, not just of future teachers, but of the students they will teach for decades to come.”

Richard Gill, CEO of The Arthur Terry Learning Partnership, Chair of the Teaching Schools Council and Member of the ITT Market Review Expert Advisory Group, said:

“I am delighted the department is investing in this ambitious vision for initial teacher training. I believe these reforms will equip future teachers with an even greater level of skill and expertise to enable them to shape the life chances of children and young people in our schools.

“It is clear that everyone in the sector shares the goal of delivering teacher training of the highest quality, and I am excited to see the positive impact these reforms will have on the next generation of teachers.”

Professor Sam Twiselton, Director of Sheffield Institute of Education, Sheffield Hallam University and Member of the ITT Market Review Expert Advisory Group, said:

“I am delighted that there will be more time to plan the implementation of these ambitious reforms to ITT and that unprecedented funding will be available to support them. It is really good to see that DfE has listened to the many views of the sector and has made the new Quality Requirements more flexible and nuanced and therefore able to reflect and adapt to existing good practice. It is really good to see that mentoring remains at the heart of these reforms.

“The next opportunity to be embraced is to ensure that both ITE and school sectors are able to work with DfE to make the most of the extra time to prepare for first teaching in 2024. This means working together to improve the system in a spirit of collaboration.”

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