Government’s initial teacher training proposals ‘potentially damaging’, say uni groups

While welcoming parts of the initial teacher training review, MillionPlus says that increased bureaucracy and a rapid implementation schedule could see providers leaving the sector

The government’s review of initial teacher training (ITT) has received a lukewarm response from one of the bodies consulted by the report’s authors.

MillionPlus, a membership organisation representing post-1992 universities, found “much within the report that is potentially damaging and, at the very least requires further clarification”.

The ITT market review report, published on 5 July, sought to lay out a method of offering high-quality training alongside increased efficiencies and market effectiveness.

“MillionPlus supports any moves to improve ITT across the country, and we welcome the stated intentions of the expert group in this regard,” said the organisation’s chair, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran.

“The focus on increasing school engagement with ITT is another positive and we look forward to continuing our work with DfE on the issue.”

Other parts of the report, he warned, exposed the teacher supply model to unnecessary risk.

These include the expert advisory group’s recommendation that all ITT providers be required to go through a new accreditation process, regardless of their record and experience in the sector.

The risk of providers pulling out of the ITT sector is a genuine one
–MillionPlus chair, Professor Rama Thirunamachandran

“An adequate case for such a dramatic overhaul of the well-established ITT education model, with the increased bureaucratic burden it will inevitably unleash on providers, has yet to be made,” said Prof Thirunamachandran.

“This burden, coupled with such a rapid implementation period, makes the risk of providers pulling out of the ITT sector a genuine one.”

The review – led by Ian Bauckham, CEO of Tenax Schools Trust, a Church of England multi-academy trust – includes the central recommendation that a new set of quality requirements be implemented ‘as soon as practicable’ and met on a continuing basis by ITT providers.

“While it is welcome that all current ITT providers can continue as accredited providers if they reach the suggested quality threshold, these changes will demand extra financial resource and, while the report acknowledges such, it makes no recommendation on where that resource should come from,” added Prof Thirunamachandran.

“We hope DfE will appreciate that the stated timescales are unworkable and need to be extended to fully address the huge questions that are being asked.”

A public consultation on the report is now underway, with interested parties invited to contribute their views by 22 August. A response to the consultation will follow later in the year.

You may also like: Last year, MillionPlus laid out its own plans to guarantee the future of first-class initial teacher training

“The MillionPlus Deans of Education Network has worked closely with DfE and the ITT market review team throughout and will continue to do so,” said Prof Thirunamachandran.

“If such radical change is seen as necessary, then it is important for the sector and DfE to continue to work together for it to be a success.”

MillionPlus is not alone in having concerns over the current proposals’ impact on the supply of new teachers.

Russell Group universities, collectively responsible for training more than 5,500 teachers each year, have also made clear their unease.

“We are concerned that recommendations made in the initial teacher training market review will have unintended consequences on high-quality teaching and disrupt current partnerships between providers and schools,” said Dr Tim Bradshaw, chief executive of the Russell Group.

“This could pose a risk to university involvement in initial teacher training, with consequences for the pipeline of new teachers in England.”

Today, Labour wrote to the government to warn them about a teacher exodus post-Covid. According to analysis by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), newly-qualified teacher retention rates have fallen over the last decade. The percentage of annual intake not remaining in the profession after 1 year has risen from 11.9% in 2011 to 15.5% in 2019.

From the archive: In January last year, the month he became chair of MillionPlus, Prof Thirunamachandran told us how the ensuing decade could be the soaring 20s for higher education


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