Teacher training: MillionPlus leads call for sector and government to work together

Department for Education asked to convene a cross-sector advisory group to draw up strategy to protect students and ensure the flow of new teachers

The Department for Education must formulate a plan to guarantee the future of first-class initial teacher training (ITE), says a cross-sector policy briefing released today (29 July).

MillionPlus and the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), with the support of UCET (Universities Council for the Education of Teachers), have published ‘The future of Initial Teacher Education: Living in the age of Covid-19 and beyond’ to call on the ​Department for Education to develop a national ITE recovery response in the aftermath of Covid-19.

It draws attention to three core areas of ITE that have been most impacted by Covid-19: safety, high quality placements, and recruitment and retention.

Should active participation in ITE be a criterion Ofsted assess when inspecting a school in the future?

Teacher training – the paper’s recommendations:

  • Department for Education to convene a cross-sector advisory group to formulate a National ITE Response Plan.
  • ITE stakeholders to work together to develop best practice guidance on maintaining a high-quality educational experience for applicants and trainee teachers during the recovery from the pandemic. Among other things, the report’s authors highlight the need to consider “tailoring provision for those who want to teach but are now vulnerable owing to this virus” and say providers must “ensure anyone in this category is not disadvantaged.”
  • Department for Education to work with the sector to encourage more schools to play an active part in ITE. The paper points to a “significant shortage of schools willing and able to place trainees” given the extra pressures placed upon them by the pandemic, and asks: “Is there value in considering whether mandating schools to play an active part could be effective? Should active participation in ITE be a criterion Ofsted assess when inspecting a school in the future?”
  • Department for Education to work with the sector to ensure mechanisms are in place to support trainees and NQTs at this challenging time, with further bespoke support in place to aid the retention of teachers including the review of bursaries, subject knowledge enhancement courses and a bespoke NQT settlement.
  • Department for Education to harness and resource the expertise and capacity of ITT providers to boost the availability of crucial high-quality mentoring work.


“If the Covid-19 crisis has taught us anything it is that we rely on our key public service workers more than we could have ever previously appreciated,” said Dr Greg Walker, chief executive of MillionPlus.

“As well as doing invaluable work in their own right, by keeping schools open for the children of key workers, teachers have indirectly kept doctors and nurses in hospitals, ensured that supermarket shelves were stocked and enabled other vital staff to stay in post.

“Among other organisations, MillionPlus has long argued that more needs to be done to boost a teaching profession that has long been dogged by under-recruitment and has seen large numbers leave the profession. The Early Career Framework and Recruitment and Retention Strategy were warmly welcome reforms but they were not created with the impact of a global health crisis in mind. Teacher educators and future teachers themselves need guidance and a plan that is relevant to this moment.

“At a time of unprecedented uncertainty, now is the time to come together and put in place a framework to guarantee a sustainable future of first class ITE.”

ITE providers must be given the professional autonomy to deliver teacher education programmes that meet the needs of their students and the schools they work with – James Noble-Rogers, UCET

Emma Hollis, executive director of NASBTT, said: “The ITE sector has successfully responded to the challenges brought about by Covid-19 by placing even greater emphasis on collaboration – and this must continue as we now move forward into the 2020-21 academic year and beyond. We are pleased to be working with MillionPlus and UCET on this policy paper and look forward to the opportunities brought about by the proposed National ITE Response Plan, supporting the Department for Education and the wider sector as we move forward.

“NASBTT has already declared its priority issues in 2020-21, including tackling the shortage of teacher training placements, engaging more schools in ITE, championing high-quality mentoring, subject knowledge enhancement, mental health and wellbeing, and tuition fees. A co-ordinated approach can only support our own organisational objectives in delivering positive change for the sector.”

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of UCET, added that ITE providers were “well placed to meet the needs of student teachers, schools and pupils through academically robust and practical teacher education. As the paper makes clear, ITE providers must be given the professional autonomy to deliver teacher education programmes that meet the needs of their students and the schools they work with. Normal regulatory requirements, such as OFSTED inspections, must for the time being take a back seat.”

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