Education Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1515-ii

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House of COMMONS



education Committee

attracting, training and retaining the best teachers

monday 5 march 2012



Evidence heard in Public Questions 580 - 675


1. This is a corrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.

2. The transcript is an approved formal record of these proceedings. It will be printed in due course.

Oral Evidence

Taken before the Education Committee

on Monday 5 March 2012

Members present:

Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)

Pat Glass

Damian Hinds

Ian Mearns

Craig Whittaker


Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Trevor Burton, Head, Millthorpe School, Anna Cornhill, Head, Scarcroft Primary School, Richard Ludlow, Head, Robert Wilkinson Primary School, and Steve Smith, Head, Fulford School, gave evidence.

Q580 Chair: Good afternoon. Welcome to this meeting of the Education Select Committee, which for us is being held in the unusual surroundings of York Guildhall. We normally sit in a pretty modern committee room in London, but, especially for me as a Yorkshire Member of Parliament, it is great to get out to Yorkshire to take evidence today. This is a hearing in our inquiry into attracting, training and retaining the best teachers. I am delighted that we are joined by four outstanding heads, who will give evidence to us today. Perhaps I may begin by asking you about Government policy, which wishes to see more school-led training of teachers. Do you feel that you have the capacity, or you could develop it, to take control of more teacher training in schools? Do you think that is a good approach to improving the quality of training of teachers? I will pick on one of the heads we have already visited today-Trevor.

Trevor Burton: The answer is a cautious yes. There are some schools that could do the job rather better than it is currently being done. In that move I would be frightened of losing the expertise that is within the universities. The balance is fairly good at the moment. If it swung all the way to school-based training, I think a lot would be lost. I would not want it to move any further away from the amount of school-based practice that there is.

Chair: I do not want to make unreasonable demands on you, but I am afraid we do not have a PA system. Can I ask you to project your voices as much as possible, because I see people at the back craning their necks to hear your answers?

Steve Smith: I would go along with that. At the moment, £60,000 is being put into the teaching schools. You will not do much with £60,000, especially if you are looking at the time and effort you want people to put in to run it. I do not mean just people like us as head teachers; it will involve other staff. They will be key staff who are really good teachers, and they will be taken out of the classroom in order to do that. It is a fine balance. There should be a balance between the two, but it needs to be better funded than is currently being suggested.

Q581 Chair: Richard, it needs more support for the schools to allow them to do it. We heard at lunch time from trainee teachers from three local universities that the quality of mentoring was absolutely critical to whether or not they wanted to stay in the profession. To an extent it was pot luck because teachers did not have enough time out of their schedule to do it; they had to go above and beyond to provide that support, and they felt that classroom teachers, for instance, needed more time to provide support for trainee teachers in a school.

Richard Ludlow: When the Government look at school-led training, I would say that it starts with schools. I am working in partnership with York St John in developing a partnership approach. We are looking at some of the elements of the training. That links directly to mentoring, because we now provide some of the elements of the course within our base, so trainee teachers can see it in practice. I think that seeing it in practice is where the "school-led" aspect is really important. You can look at the theory of some aspects, but what makes the difference is seeing it in practice.

Q582 Chair: From a primary school perspective, what are your thoughts, Anna?

Anna Cornhill: I would concur with what Richard said. I would prefer it to be more of a partnership. I certainly would not want the responsibility of taking it on completely but would be keen to continue the kind of partnership work we have already done with St John’s, as Richard has. We have been doing some CPD this year without any funding. It is hugely demanding and it takes its toll on staff, but it is worth it when you get feedback from people that it is high quality and it has made a difference. Funding is an issue, but I would like to see it done in partnership with the universities with which we currently work.

Q583 Damian Hinds: Richard, what makes great teachers in your view, and how do you spot them before they become teachers?

Richard Ludlow: I am not too sure how you spot them before they become teachers. As to what makes a great teacher, it is a mixture of several elements. One of the most important is that they can engage with young people. By "engage", I mean that they are creative in motivating and inspiring their learning. Knowledge is essential, not in terms of high academic knowledge but about those steps in learning. So on a primary scale I think that one of the best initiatives has been assessing pupils’ progress-APP-not necessarily for the assessment side but for teachers understanding the incremental steps in learning to enable them to pinpoint the learning for children.

Q584 Damian Hinds: Perhaps I can bring you back to teachers as individuals. You are saying that you are not sure how you would spot them before they become teachers. Clearly, this is a big challenge, because in the profession overall you need to be able to spot the people whom you want to attract to teaching, and when people apply to the profession, know which ones to prefer over others. How would you do that?

Richard Ludlow: One of the best ways of attracting good teachers is by having them in your setting. Sometimes one of the best ways of doing that is to have people volunteering to come into your setting. They are already doing work within the setting on a teaching assistant basis. You can spot them then. I can tell you of two potential teachers who are working in my setting now who came in as teaching assistants and have become higher level teaching assistants. They are cracking people. At the moment they will not go into the teaching profession because they do not have degrees. I can tell you that those two people could make the best teachers, because they are in the environment and are engaged.

Q585 Damian Hinds: Steve, do you think it should be compulsory for people to have spent time working in some capacity in a school before they decide that they should be a teacher, and also before the teaching profession decides that they are right for it?

Steve Smith: Not necessarily, but without a shadow of a doubt it gives people an advantage. We have had people at school doing a variety of jobs-teaching assistants, high-level teaching assistants, and even classroom supervisors-who have seen what teaching looks like and gained a greater insight into it, and have then gone on and got postings in other schools to become teachers.

Q586 Damian Hinds: What sort of proportion of the people you have seen coming into teaching have done that?

Steve Smith: It is a small but growing proportion; it has happened in the last few years. On the other hand, I have experience of some people who have gone into another profession and have then come into teaching. They vary. Some have gone into a profession for a short period and then come into teaching, and they have been absolutely excellent.

Q587 Damian Hinds: Just give us an idea of what that small proportion is. Is it 5% or 25%?

Steve Smith: It is 5% to 10%.

Q588 Damian Hinds: Does everybody else have a similar experience?

Trevor Burton: Yes.

Anna Cornhill: Increasingly, universities are demanding that of entrants to the profession. There is now an expectation, which I think is healthy.

Q589 Damian Hinds: But if it is only 5%, that means 95% are not.

Anna Cornhill: That is not what I have seen in primary. I would say the vast majority of people who are being accepted into PGCE places have already done a placement in school, even if it is just voluntary, for two or three weeks. To go back to what colleagues have said, I have two teaching assistants, both of whom have applied to do PGCEs. I can tell you now that one is going to be hugely successful and the other is going to struggle, and it is about their personal qualities.

Q590 Damian Hinds: In the case of those two individuals, one of whom you think will be strong and the other will struggle, how formal an assessment are you asked to make?

Anna Cornhill: I was asked to make a very minimal reference.

Q591 Damian Hinds: Should there be more?

Anna Cornhill: I think there should be more. What it comes down to is classroom presence. You can tell straight away, even if somebody has worked with a small group of children, whether they have those personal skills, can manage children’s behaviour, as well as the relationships, and be inspirational. They need to have a passion for it and to be committed, because they will have to work really hard. You can spot that quite quickly.

Q592 Damian Hinds: Before we came here we were in discussion with trainee teachers, some of whom are with us in the room. We were talking about how you can mimic, or do a scaled-down version of, observing teachers in action, ideally in front of a class of children, before they start their studies. How practical do you think it would be to have a compulsory period of actually teaching real children, even if it is only for a very short space of time, so you can test all of those things together? Trevor, what do you think about that?

Trevor Burton: That is really difficult. You would be asking me, for instance, to give time from some of my classes to somebody who might be totally useless just to find out they were totally useless. I am not too keen on that, to be frank. For a long time, one of the requirements before starting your formal PGCE course was that, if you were on a second degree, you would spend two weeks observing in a primary school. I remember my two weeks in a primary school; it was a bit of an eye opener, but it was not really a selection requirement for the course. Things have changed a lot since I entered the profession, but at that time I think the selection was very amateur, and it has tightened up a lot recently.

Q593 Damian Hinds: You said that you would not have much incentive to give up time to find that somebody might not be up to the job. I know that in your school you do not have a sixth form, but for those that do, what about suggesting to young people in the upper sixth who you think might have a flair for teaching that they have a week to go off and work in a local primary school to test themselves out and do some personal development? That would be the way you find out whether or not you are suited to that.

Steve Smith: You could look at that, but if you talk to most young people they cannot say what they want to do at that age. They cannot say that they are going into teaching or any other career.

Q594 Damian Hinds: But if they are going to do a three or four-year teaching degree, they are going to have to decide pretty damn soon after that.

Steve Smith: Certainly, if they were going to go straight into a BS that is one of the things you could so. That could be a way of doing some of this self-selection beforehand.

Trevor Burton: I think it would be a mistake to plan people’s lives for them. For instance, I had no idea that I would be a teacher until I had completed a year as a researcher in science. At that point I decided that I did not like being a researcher in science but I knew I loved science, so what should I do? At that point I thought that perhaps I could do what other people helped me to do: learn it. It is difficult to be prescriptive and say this is the best way to get people into teaching. People will come at it from all ways, but what you need to do is be very careful about who you let do such an important job.

Q595 Damian Hinds: I want to return to the academic hurdle that the Chairman mentioned earlier. We have taken evidence in this inquiry from a number of people, teachers and others, about whether it is right to have a 2.2, or even a 2.1, as a hurdle. Of course, the group splits into two. Funnily enough, those who have a 2.1 degree think it is a good idea; those who have a third-class degree do not think it is such a great idea, which probably should not come as a surprise to any of us. Among those who do think it is a good idea, one thing they talk about is not so much the fact that I have a 2.1 or a 2.2 in a subject makes me better at teaching it, but that by creating a hurdle you potentially enhance the status of teaching, because it is that bit harder to get into. A suggestion we heard from some of the student teachers we talked to earlier today was that in a secondary environment, where you might be teaching people up to the age of 18 at A-level and stretching them-some of whom might be going to elite universities-you do need a depth of subject knowledge, but if you are doing primary perhaps what is more important is breadth of knowledge. Therefore, being very good in primary in one or two subjects is pretty useless. What you want to be is at least good enough at eight subjects. Discuss.

Anna Cornhill: I find it difficult to take the idea that it might be more demanding to go into a secondary school.

Q596 Damian Hinds: I did not say that in the slightest. It is a question of breadth and depth.

Anna Cornhill: No, but I think that is how it might be perceived. I have taught in both and I agree there is a requirement for breadth and depth, but none of the primary teachers will arrive in the profession at day one with that level of knowledge. You just cannot. Part of that is about the training, the gathering of knowledge and the appropriateness of induction and how well it is done. With the greatest respect, I do not think the colleges can cover 13 subjects. I might add that it is a constantly growing number, which is a personal hobbyhorse.

Chair: Damian is five behind already.

Anna Cornhill: You cannot know it all with a large number of subjects from the word go. Clearly, you must learn as you come into the profession. I would be less hung up on what grades they have and be more interested in whether they are the right people. I think it goes back to personal qualities and classroom presence to inspire, make things exciting and make children want to listen, and to have the ability to do it while you are managing the person on the back row who perhaps needs a bit of tweaking. For me, it is the personal qualities that are more important to me. I do not think the application process allows you to test that properly.

Q597 Damian Hinds: That was what we were talking about earlier. I suppose some might say that if you are not to use degree class as a hurdle for getting into teaching the next generation that subject, what is the point of having degree classes at all? Presumably, they will not be used for anything. Does anyone else have a strong view on the academic hurdle?

Trevor Burton: I would echo that. What is the point of having degree classes? Quite frankly, when I recruit to my school I look just as much at the place where they got their degrees as the class of the degree. I also know the very best teacher I ever worked with got a third-class degree. It was his personal qualities that made him outstanding, not his subject knowledge at the age of 21. His subject knowledge was very good but he had built it up in the work he had done in his career. I am not convinced about it. That is not to say there is not a link; there may well be, but my view, which concurs with Anna’s, is that it is personal qualities that decide how good a teacher is.

Richard Ludlow: I think the science of teaching has changed over the last 10 or 20 years since I started teaching, and it is more in-depth. It is about knowledge of learning-the strategies and skills of teaching. That is a weakness in the PGCE course. I do not think we do enough in terms of the strategies and teaching styles element. The knowledge is there, but it is too quick. I am working with the college on student and trainee teachers knowing what some of those strategies are, why we do that and how we teach. It is the science of learning.

Q598 Chair: Perhaps I could ask you about some of the primary trainee teachers we met at lunch time. They said that the entry requirements were a little low; we heard separately that sometimes universities had quotas to fill and that there were people on their course who were not that committed, so they were coming in not very well qualified, specifically for primary, and going through it because it was an option they could take with the relatively low grades they had. Both of you as proud exponents of primary and its importance would say-you would have united support from this Committee-that is not a good situation. What can we do about it, and what should we be recommending to Government?

Anna Cornhill: I think a good interview process should be able to weed that out. Certainly, on the one occasion I went along to the interview process, it was clear that quotas got in the way. It is quite obvious that some who are accepted on to courses will not find it easy and may not be the right people. I think it goes back to the expectation that people should have spent some time in schools listening to schools’ views at that point, before they are accepted on to the course. If there is an opportunity for a school to say that based on the two, three or four weeks it has worked alongside an individual, it can categorically recommend that person, or that it has sincere doubts, it would be a very powerful message to send.

Q599 Ian Mearns: That in itself seems to beg a question. Is it not a grand waste of everyone’s time and effort to attract the wrong people into initial teacher training in the first place? If people are dropping out after one, two, or even three years on the longer courses, an awful lot of time and personal blood, sweat and tears goes into that. Do you think we have to find some way of avoiding that in the future?

Anna Cornhill: I would agree with that. It is heartbreaking for somebody to reach the third year of their degree and come to me as their third placement and find they are not cut out for teaching, and it then becoming my responsibility to say that to the person and the tutors at the college. That person has wasted three years of their life, which is tragic. It is a huge responsibility on us as head teachers to be the ones giving that message. I think we could do better at identifying very early on that the person does not have what it takes and being honest with them, because honesty is constructive for that person.

Ian Mearns: Therefore, we need the institutions to be more honest about who they are accepting on their course.

Chair: Unusually, I am going to suspend the sitting for a few minutes. We do not have a PA system, and I am aware that people have come in and want to engage but cannot hear, which must be very frustrating. I am going to suspend the sitting for a few minutes and encourage people, preferably without a riot or any deaths from being crushed, to move chairs around the side and come much closer so they can hear what is going on.

On resuming-

Chair: I hope you will be able to hear more easily. Politicians are always loud, but it is somewhat harder to hear the experts.

Q600 Ian Mearns: What aspects of teaching as a career should be emphasised to attract the best applicants? What are the prime things that you think we should be emphasising and advertising in order to attract the best applicants?

Anna Cornhill: From my own point of view, what attracts them to teaching is that it is a job where you can make a difference. You make a difference to a series of generations that are passing through; you are sending them on to the next step in their life and you have had a massive impact on those children’s growth. It is very rewarding. It has stresses and huge challenges, but when things are going well and you have seen somebody catch on to something with which they have been struggling, there is nothing more magical than that moment.

Steve Smith: I would go along with that. I have just been looking through some applications today. A number of people putting in their application for a science post have talked about teaching being a vocation, and it is. That is what you have to get across to people. But it also it comes from you, and people above you, as leaders. I do not think it helps that teaching, especially in the state system, tends to be castigated. We all find criticism difficult, but when Michael Wilshaw comes out with the statement that 5,000 head teachers are underperforming and we have to get rid of them, I do not think that does anyone any favours whatsoever. I am sure that when David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband, etc, talk to you separately it is not being said that 25% of you are a load of rubbish and you need to go.

Chair: It is higher.

Steve Smith: I think that is a crucial part of it because we need people to stand up for us. We expect the press to have a go at times, because that is the nature of it; they have to sell papers, but we need people at the top to support us, not just say that some schools are doing well. There are schools in very challenging circumstances. With the recent changes, especially to the Ofsted framework, you wonder why people go to certain schools where they can see that shortly they could well be in special measures and could be losing their jobs. For head teachers it could be the football manager scenario, except that we do not have the same salary.

Anna Cornhill: Nobody will want to work in a profession where there is a feeling of low morale, and yet you have Michael Wilshaw saying in The Guardian that if people are telling you morale is low, as a head you know you are doing your job right. I am sorry; that is not what I signed up to this profession for, and I cannot imagine the next generation of teachers want to sign up to a profession where the chap at the top says that is what should be happening in schools. I find that deeply worrying.

Q601 Chair: In fairness, it may be worth correcting that, because in context he was talking about going into a failing school as a head and turning it round, and that low morale might be a necessary stage in turning it round. I wrote to him about it, and he replied to make it clear that the last thing he was saying was that he wanted to demoralise staff: quite the opposite.

Anna Cornhill: That is reassuring.

Chair: But a head turning round a school that is not working may have to go through that process. I say that just for the record. The press again and again tends to put the most negative gloss on it.

Q602 Ian Mearns: I am afraid to say that even The Guardian likes to get a headline. If you look at and the session we had with Michael Wilshaw last week, you will see that he did explain that in detail. It is worth a look. I thought that the session last week with the chief inspector was a very refreshing one. For anybody interested in education, it is worth looking at. It was a very interesting, open and frank session. Given the answers that you have given about the rewards in terms of fulfilment and making a difference, do you think that at the other end of the scale we should also try to focus to a certain extent on the more material rewards that are available to the teaching profession, or not?

Steve Smith: No one will say no to more money, but it depends on how one looks at doing it. Often, one of the things that is done is giving extra money to teachers in certain areas-for example, there might be a shortage of modern languages teachers-but that can also be divisive, and it does not necessarily mean they will be good or outstanding teachers, whereas somebody else teaching another subject might be absolutely outstanding but would receive less because it is not a shortage subject. I admit that there is not an easy answer.

Q603 Ian Mearns: A teacher in Mr Burton’s school said this morning that teachers were now better paid than, say, 10 or 15 years ago. I do not think many people would argue with that, but do you think there are other aspects of the job that you can market from that perspective?

Trevor Burton: It is fair to say it is a well-paid profession. What attracted me to it was neither the pay nor the holidays but the fact that I felt, as Anna said, that I would make a difference. At the time I was working to help make nuclear energy a little more efficient, so I saw my obituary as being, "He reduced the price of electricity by a penny a unit." I did not really want that; I wanted it to be to do with helping other people. There is a balance to be struck with the vocational aspects. Generally, what motivates people currently in the profession? The really great teachers walk home on a high, even when they have had a hard day, because they know they have done a good job. I think that is the best way to market it. If you do it the other way, you will get people who value the money but perhaps not the hard work, toil, resilience and persistence that must go into feeling good about their work on a Friday afternoon.

Q604 Ian Mearns: More specifically, as secondary heads, Steve and Trevor, do you find it more difficult or easier in some subject areas to recruit teachers in particular subjects? Where do you find particular problems?

Trevor Burton: For me, it is maths in particular, not so much in my current school but in schools I have worked in previously. Maths is a difficult area in which to recruit. It is also a difficult area because being a great mathematician does not make you a great maths teacher. The two are not necessarily linked. Secondly, science is difficult. Touch wood, I have found it relatively straightforward to recruit high quality modern language teachers. I know that is not the case across the country, but I have found that okay, so in my school the problem is maths and science.

Steve Smith: I would echo the problem with maths. We have just appointed a new head of maths. We got a very good appointment, but it was from a very small field. For an outstanding school in the city of York it is an attractive post, but we had very few applications. As for science, it varies, and depends on the time of year. We have gone out for this post very early. We had a large number of applications, and we will have a strong field next week. This is a post we have readvertised, because last year the post came late and we could hardly appoint anyone; we had to do a temporary appointment.

Q605 Ian Mearns: The Government are apparently proposing pretraining tests for potential recruits, and those tests would be in literacy, numeracy and interpersonal skills. Do you think that is a good move?

Anna Cornhill: I think the interpersonal skills go back to what we said about identifying-

Q606 Ian Mearns: How would testing interpersonal skills work?

Anna Cornhill: I am really intrigued to hear about that. It depends on whether it is one of those questionnaires based on, "What would you do if?" If it was a real interpersonal test, it would tell you something about classroom skills.

Q607 Ian Mearns: I thought an interview was a test of interpersonal skills, but not to worry. Do you have anything to add to that, Steve?

Steve Smith: As to interpersonal skills, I would be interested to see how that is done. I assume it would take place in the form of an interview rather than just a cognitive-type test. I have taken some psychometric tests myself. When you see the answer, it does not tell you one thing or another.

Richard Ludlow: The idea that you can identify someone right at the beginning does worry me. There are some elements, but some people grow into it, and we should not forget that after a period of time, you can become that person. It is very difficult to say that prior to going on a course you can identify a good teacher. You can identify some potential, but you can also identify potential when they are in the course.

Q608 Chair: It has to be better to do literacy and numeracy at the beginning rather than the end, doesn’t it? If they are not literate and numerate and they have undergone two years’ training only to find out they cannot teach because of that, it would have been better to save everyone the trouble at the beginning.

Richard Ludlow: That is true, but isn’t that the case at the moment? What we are talking about is the new strand of interpersonal skills.

Q609 Chair: And literacy and numeracy.

Richard Ludlow: I believe they are already tested on literacy and numeracy.

Trevor Burton: I do not understand. Every one of these PGCE candidates must have a GCSE in English and maths, yet I know that some who have come through are not literate and find it difficult to write reports in plain English. Sadly, a GCSE in English and maths is clearly not good enough. Therefore, we do need those tests.

As for interpersonal skills, I agree with Richard that it is very difficult. It is like the 11-plus. How can you tell at 11 what somebody deserves in terms of the way you want to develop them? But you can perhaps detect some attitudes that it might be useful for teachers to have in their bag, like resilience, persistence and a focus on outcomes for students rather than what they would do as a teacher. I think those kinds of things could be identified early, whereas interpersonal skills you would not.

Chair: It may be a cover-all for the fact that what some of the trainee teachers and some of your teachers today said is that you get people coming through who are clearly not fitted for teaching. It may be it is a 95% pass rate; if you save one in 20 from going down a path that is clearly not suited to them, perhaps it could be-

Q610 Damian Hinds: Are not the Teach First core competencies meant to isolate things like resilience and focus on outcomes? I am not particularly familiar with the full list and how it all works, but do you find those useful? If so, why are they not used more generally?

Chair: Are you aware of the list of competencies?

Trevor Burton: Yes. I have no experience of the Teach First programme.

Richard Ludlow: No.

Q611 Craig Whittaker: I do not particularly want to go down the castigation route. However, we hear more and more about young people who leave primary school and cannot read and write properly; employers talk to us as MPs about people not having social skills when they leave school. We have already heard about some teachers coming through who have taken GCSEs but clearly are not up to spec. We also heard today from student teachers on the undergraduate scheme that the system was not robust enough to weed out and to have consistency of teachers coming through. I want to ask you about the different routes in this country for people to become teachers. More and more that seems to us to be the key point in getting quality teachers. In your experience, which route did you individually pursue? Would you do the same again? Do you tend to recruit teachers from a specific training background?

Steve Smith: I went to university, got a degree in history and then did a PGCE. We do not look at that as being the particular route; we would look at a whole variety of things. Those we were looking at short-listing today include people who have done BEd as well as PGCE and also someone who has done the graduate teacher programme. It depends on the quality of the latter and the application we receive, so I would not favour one over another.

Q612 Chair: Do you have any prejudice in favour or against any particular one? Do you treat them all entirely equally?

Steve Smith: Yes, as far as possible. We look at other things. Because we are a secondary school and take A-levels, we will look at people’s A-level results; we will look at the full range of things.

Anna Cornhill: I am a graduate of the Royal College of Music. I went on to do a PGCE. I always intended to teach. I remember my dad’s advice was to do the subject I was most passionate about for three years and then do the teacher training year. If I had felt at that point that there was a preference in the profession for one route as against another, I would have gone down the route that took me into teaching, because I had already made that commitment. For me, it was to take my own subject to a higher level and then do PGCE.

I do not have a preference when looking at applicants. If they have made a commitment to the profession at that stage, I do not mind from which route they come, but if we as a profession were to say that four years is enough to get to grips with it, and you have to make your commitment at the beginning, although that is not the route I took I would support that. It would mean people would make that commitment; they would not be doing a degree and looking around thinking, "What shall I do? I might try teaching." It might take us back to what we talked about earlier in the day about status. This is a commitment to teaching, and we can get much further down into the nitty-gritty of how all of us as children and adults learn.

Trevor Burton: My route was PGCE. If I was starting out again, I would look quite closely at the GTP route. It is a very competitive route because it gives you a salary while you are training. It is very difficult for schools. I do not think I could contemplate offering that in my school, because the support needed to do it draws away from my mission to improve the school, so to make it work well it would need a back-up from, say, a teaching school or something like that.

I do not regard any of them as being better or worse, although I would have some worries about the BEd route-being secondary. If you are teaching to Alevel, you need to be sure there is sufficient knowledge. For instance, to get somebody through an entrance exam to Oxford or Cambridge, you need to be at the top, and I am not sure you can pick that up on a mixed course over three or four years. That would be a prejudice I would explore at interview; I would not discount somebody from a short list because of something like that.

Richard Ludlow: I did a four-year BEd course for primary. Which route do I prefer? I have no preference. I think it goes back to the person again. In my setting we have supported GTP, and it worked really well. Would I support someone just ad hoc? I do not think I would. The selection of the person is paramount because that person will have a greater impact. If you have PGCE students and students on other courses who are not so strong, the impact is such that you can manage it a little differently. GTP is a big investment for the school, so you have to recruit the right person.

Q613 Craig Whittaker: The Government have the very strong feeling that one of the reasons for our performance in the PISA tables, for example, is the quality of teachers coming through. One of the key areas is initial teacher training. We have heard today from some people that aspects of teacher training are not robust enough. I think Anna said earlier that sometimes too far down the line head teachers have to tell teachers that they are not good enough to do the course. Are the routes robust enough to make sure we get the best quality teachers through that system, and redirect or kick out those who are not good enough to become teachers?

Chair: Or do not try hard enough.

Craig Whittaker: Or do not try hard enough-because the kids get only one chance.

Richard Ludlow: I think we are developing the routes. The partnership model with universities is good. I think there is now more listening to practitioners.

Craig Whittaker: What I am asking is: are the routes robust enough to ensure that the quality of teachers we get to teach our kids is at the level needed to take us as a country forward?

Q614 Chair: What we have heard today from students was that people just did not turn up for lectures. A trainee teacher said they thought it must be very hard to fail someone because universities seem to bend over backwards to keep somebody on a course and nurse them to the end, even though they are not turning up for lectures, they do not seem that bothered and they are not that interested. They felt they were drawing down the level and standard overall.

Richard Ludlow: That is the aspect of the course. When they are in school on their placement, it is probably more robust. You cannot fail to turn up at school. You are working with a colleague. I think the quality of teaching far surpasses what it was five or 10 years ago. It is now really good. Therefore, you get teachers who will not accept poor trainee teachers. I think it is robust within the setting. It might not be robust within the setting of the colleges, but that is another debate.

Chair: They will be here in 15 minutes or so.

Trevor Burton: I would agree with exactly that. I have been involved in education for over 20 years. In that time the quality of initial teacher training has gone up and up. As far as I can see, it is at an alltime high. We have excellent recruits coming in. The fact there are some poor quality graduates from the PGCE programme means they are not likely to get jobs, frankly. I would not give them a job. Some head teachers might not be in the fortunate position of being able to choose from a large field, but I disagree with the premise of your question, which was that if we are to get higher achievement, we need to have better entrants to the profession. We also need to get better teachers in service. It would take 20 years for the new entrants to the profession to replace the existing teacher work force. It is the existing teacher work force that we need to improve.

Q615 Craig Whittaker: We hear and see that, but, on the basis of what you have just said, if you are not giving those poorer teachers jobs in the better schools, they end up in the worst schools doing an even worse job.

Trevor Burton: Yes.

Anna Cornhill: What worries me is the labelling system. At the moment, it will be a brave person who applies for a job in a school that you know may, in six months to a year, be put into special measures, so you will not attract the right people for that reason. I am not sure I would want to apply to a school where I knew that was going to happen.

Richard Ludlow: I have a partnership school in Singapore, which is deemed to be one of the outstanding education systems. I think our teaching outstrips them by miles. The learning that goes on in our classrooms far surpasses that. They are good at exams.

Q616 Pat Glass: Trevor, you said it would take 20 years to replace the existing systems. I want to ask about the training and development of the existing work force. The Committee has heard a lot of evidence to suggest that our system does not think about career paths for those teachers who are excellent and wish to stay in the classroom. How might we change the current career path? We went to Singapore recently and looked at their very clear laddered career structure, which was not just about leadership but also about master teachers in the classroom. Is that something you would find attractive and that we as a Committee need to recommend?

Richard Ludlow: We have done it before, haven’t we? With our education system sometimes we change direction too often; in Singapore they do not-they build on their direction. What is happening to advanced skill teachers? Sometimes we have it, but we lose it because we change rather than build layers on top. In Singapore they also have the current estimated potential of each teacher. It is the leadership that decides whether you will be a potential leader or master teacher. It is a very clear structure, but it is about performance grading at school level. We tend not to do that other than individually; there is not a set system for doing it.

Q617 Chair: What would you like to see? If you were Secretary of State and looking down on it, how would you build on what we have?

Richard Ludlow: I like the idea of identifying potential, but good leaders in our schools probably do that in any case. There is no set system, but I can tell you that I appointed a GTP student last year. In my mind-unless he hears this or it is being recorded-I know he has potential to be a leader. I have seen him working; I have seen what he is doing. I think he has current potential, but until I give him some of that responsibility I do not know whether it will turn into reality. As leaders we can identify potential, but we need to create opportunities for that person to thrive and develop.

Anna Cornhill: That point came through from talking to some of my teachers earlier today. They are doing what they want to do. They do not have aspirations for leadership; they want to carry on being good classroom teachers, and that is where their hearts lie. The level of pay is significantly better than it has ever been in the profession, so they are able to reach a decent level of pay and stay in the classroom, which is brilliant. That is exactly where I want them and it is where the profession needs them. I would hate to see more things of the nature of Threshold, which was so wishywashy that it made it impossible for head teachers to make decisions. We even got rid of the external validation of the whole process, and it made it very difficult, with the power of the unions, for that to be a meaningful process. I would be wary of anything that put heads in that very difficult position of having almost no say in whether or not somebody went through.

Q618 Pat Glass: But is there a general view that we need to go back to advanced skills teachers-dust it off, properly formalise it and stick with it?

Richard Ludlow: I think master teachers are a great idea. You need to create opportunities for people to see what route they would like. I have given senior people the opportunity to do leadership roles and they have decided they want to stay and be master teachers in our setting. I think that having some formalised routes would be good.

Q619 Pat Glass: Would that work equally well in secondary schools?

Steve Smith: It would, but when you look at anything like this you will need extra funding. If you are looking at people being master teachers, as advanced skills teachers used to work, there are a number in all our schools who can work with other teachers in those schools but also with teachers in other schools, but to do that they need time. With the advanced skills teachers, it was one or two days a week out of school, so you have to balance that. You have a really good teacher, and you will lose him or her for two days a week. You will then need to bring in somebody else to cover them while they are working developing other teachers. It is a very good thing, and there are certainly people who do not wish to take on leadership roles and remain in the classroom. Something like that could be a benefit to them and to education, but it is not something that will be sorted out very easily. I know that in this difficult economic climate it will need additional funding.

Trevor Burton: I would agree. The ASTs were a good thing to have. If we are to move forward into an education world where collaboration between schools is meant to be important, finding ways of sharing that teacher expertise is important. We heard last week that very few of the new academies had formally sponsored other schools. How many are working in partnership with other schools? Using an AST is a simple way of doing that and is easily transferable to the nonacademy side of the system at the moment. I think that would work well.

I agree with Anna’s remark about the wishywashy nature of the teacher standards, but I would like to see continuing professional development where you could be rewarded for your own development. I cannot claim to have cracked this. I am listening very intently to what Richard is saying about people being involved in shaping their own development. My staff say to me that is what they enjoy most about the professional development we have started to do. They have had an opportunity to be involved in deciding their own development, and that is a principle to take forward.

Q620 Pat Glass: Moving on to CPD proper, we have heard evidence that there is a mismatch between the CPD that is provided and the CPD that is needed. I have spoken to head teachers over very many years. Every time I speak to good head teachers and ask them what they need, they say, "Behaviour is the biggest issue. What CPD are you putting in place?" That is always somebody else’s job; it is for the LEA, the Government or whatever. Do we need a more formalised system that matches the needs of not just the individual but the school and the system to the CPD that is offered? Should we be offering 100 hours as they do in Singapore? Is there a better way of doing this?

Anna Cornhill: We were talking after you left. When you made that comment about 100 hours I felt myself go pale at the idea of having to fund it, but it depends on what you count as CPD. We have taken all our nittygritty procedural things out of staff training time so that weekly staff training is really tough and of high quality. As to the training days and courses we offer, we have a fantastic relationship with our local authority, which takes CPD very seriously and works closely with schools to make sure it meets the needs. Every time there is a new change, we have CPD offered by high-quality consultants, of whom schools think very highly, so what is on our doorstep already meets our needs, plus the things that we are providing within school, which, because we are talking to teachers about their needs, I would like to think is high quality.

Richard Ludlow: I think it is about what we class as CPD. Teachers learn from teachers, and some of the best CPD we do is in the form of teachers working together, doing team teaching approaches and learning from each other. The best training we have is teachers in our own setting taking a lead in that role.

Q621 Pat Glass: What do you think you have gained in your school from your exchange programme with Madrid and Singapore?

Richard Ludlow: I think, professional opportunities. One of the things I am very keen on is to create opportunities for members of staff to do research and develop their own practice. A couple of years ago some teachers went up to Gateshead to have a look at practice. We sent two teachers to Singapore, but not, as I call it, in the form of educational tourism. When I went to Singapore I was taken everywhere. We wanted a partnership where they worked as teams and they talked in the class, but it creates opportunities.

Chair: We did the tourism bit.

Q622 Ian Mearns: Was Gateshead better than Singapore?

Richard Ludlow: Definitely.

Q623 Pat Glass: Is there a role for sabbaticals? Can we build that into the system so teachers can periodically take some time out for their own development? Putting aside whether we can afford it, would that be a good idea?

Anna Cornhill: If we could afford it. As staff we have talked about other parts of the world where that does happen. After you have done a certain number of years in the profession, sometimes you need that time to refresh, have a chance to do research and look at other things going on in other parts of the country. To have that sanctioned as a good part of the profession would be fantastic. The opportunities would be amazing.

Steve Smith: "Afford" is the interesting word there. I have given sabbaticals to two of my staff at different times. They took it unpaid. They both went out for a full year; they wanted to travel round the world. I knew they were outstanding teachers and did not want to lose them, so I was happy for them to do that. The problem was how I managed that year when they were out and got in a replacement teacher. The replacement teacher was okay but not of their standard, and that is the problem when you come to a sabbatical.

Q624 Pat Glass: It is interesting that when we spoke to young people today they were very complimentary about teachers in their own schools, but they were most concerned about supply teachers, or people coming in for short periods of time.

Trevor Burton: I disagree. Within five miles of my school some astonishing teaching is going on. I would far rather my teachers had a look at that, which they can do almost any day of the teaching year, and work on a more local level than necessarily going global. That would be much better value for money.

Q625 Damian Hinds: In the evidence from the Department for Education to this Committee on retaining teachers they commented that only 73% of qualified teachers who stayed in the teaching profession were still working in the maintained sector five years later. I have always struggled with the word "only". In years gone by most people started their careers at 16, 18 or 21 and stuck with it until they retired. In most sectors that has stopped. The assumption in teaching is that, other things being equal, that is what you are going to do for ever. What are your thoughts on teaching being a very high stakes profession in that way? You make a decision at 18 or 21 and are stuck with it. Does it mean that, firstly, potentially some really good people are put off but, secondly, some people who maybe are not particularly suited to the teaching profession are stuck in it once they get into it? Is it possible to have lower stakes entry routes into teaching as well? It is a long question, but a short answer would be great.

Trevor Burton: You are saying that we should have more people drop out because it might be a better way of getting good quality candidates.

Q626 Damian Hinds: I will give you an example. We talked briefly about Teach First. We do not have direct experience of it. Teach First, for example, is a way of saying, "You can do this on a much lower risk basis, because the expectation is that you will leave and do something else." You might come back in, say, 10 years’ time and teach again but just because you start in it, you do not expect to go all the way through. I am not expressing an opinion but trying to find out what you think. Does it make sense to try to expand those lower stakes routes in?

Steve Smith: I think there is a danger with Teach First.

Q627 Damian Hinds: I deliberately did not refer specifically to Teach First; I said things like Teach First.

Steve Smith: As an example, on Sunday I had a conversation with people with whom I was at university. The daughter of one of them is working in a school in London on Teach First. She has a law degree and went into teaching through Teach First. She is in her second year. She is making a decision today about whether she wants to be head of English with a law degree. She is an outstanding teacher. That school offered her, first, head of English and maths, then head of English or inclusion and now it is just head of English. She is only in her second year of teaching and she has been offered that. There is no one at that school, apart from the head, who is over 35. I do not think that can be a good thing for schools like that. Part of the issue is that it is a school in challenging circumstances. It is good to have that movement in certain places, but if you have a school with that degree of churn, it will create problems.

Q628 Chair: Are there any other strong views not specifically on Teach First but on different routes in?

Trevor Burton: I personally welcome different routes in. What is important is whether they have the right attitude and they can be shaped. Is the subject knowledge there to build on, even if it is not perfect at the beginning? I do not mind if that comes via a different route.

Damian Hinds: At the opposite end of the scale, when was the last time you managed somebody out of a school, without going into the details of any specific case? Can you give me a rough time frame?

Chair: It is more difficult with a primary school; you are practically naming them.

Damian Hinds: That is a fair point, Chairman. I am not trying to ask a question that would be tricky in that sense.

Chair: Do you have observations on managing people who need to be managed out?

Q629 Damian Hinds: Can you speak about other head teachers with whom you are familiar in your area?

Trevor Burton: I think the most likely route is that once you have begun that kind of procedure, circumstances take over. There might be early retirement, an opportunity for voluntary redundancy or some other route. It is relatively rare that it proceeds down all the formal procedures to that point.

Q630 Damian Hinds: If you manage somebody out well, arguably, you never get to a third written warning, and so on. In an earlier session of this inquiry we heard from some teachers who were identified as particularly good teachers, and we asked them to talk to us about anybody they had ever known in teaching who had been managed out. They said they really had never come across that. Is it fair to say that there is not much of a managing-out process when it is required? I know that it exists in theory.

Steve Smith: I would say it is still there, but the reason other people would not necessarily know that is because of the way it is managed. Therefore, people would not necessarily be aware of what had happened behind the scenes. They just think somebody has left for various reasons. They have been managed out, but other staff at the school would not necessarily be aware of that. It is usually done in a very sensitive and confidential way.

Chair: Thank you very much indeed for giving evidence to us this afternoon, and for hosting us this morning.

Examination of Witnesses

Witnesses: Mike Hickman, Head of ITE, York St John University, Paula Mountford, Director of ITT, York University, and Sarah Trussler, Head of Primary Education, Leeds Trinity University College, gave evidence.

Q631 Chair: Thank you very much for joining us in the second session of our inquiry this afternoon.

Do you get the quality of recruits that is required? If so, why do so many drop out? Why do your students tell us that they think some of their fellow students are not up to it and are not really into it?

Mike Hickman: I have the microphone so I will start, but Paula and Sarah can jump in. In terms of quality of recruits, from the position of York St John the outcomes for trainees across a three-year period and beyond have increased against the Ofsted grading guidance, for example, and outcomes academically, for example BA (Hons). We want people going into teaching with good degrees, so the outcomes of people who are gaining a degree and training to be teachers have also improved. That is at the same time as interview procedures have been overhauled and we have looked again at the qualities we want from our trainees, not just following the Ofsted guidance but also our own vision and values as an institution. From our perspective that has increased over time.

Q632 Chair: My question was not about your direction of travel but whether the quality was high enough.

Mike Hickman: We would say so. You talked about withdrawals. Of course, there are withdrawals from programmes for individual reasons, and occasionally people fail. Clearly, a robust interview and application process would result in people successfully passing their teacher training. If we take any one of our programmes, for example PG in the last year, the majority of the withdrawals are to do with personal issues. There is a lower rate of withdrawals than the previous year. It is clearly something we take seriously, and you do not interview someone for them not to become a successful and, hopefully, outstanding teacher.

Paula Mountford: I lead a secondary PGC programme. The University of York recruits very high quality candidates in a range of categories academically-we look at their ability and aptitude-and I would say that has been maintained over a number of years and is echoed by the gradings from two recent Ofsted inspections. We were graded as outstanding, and you cannot get that grade without the quality of your candidates, and then your trainees and the finished products at the end of that year.

I would say that the standard is high, but it is a lot more complex than that. Once high-quality people begin training in a demanding professional arena, now at master’s level, the demands upon them are huge. Therefore, part-way through the course and at different stages sometimes decisions have to be made that they are not suitable for teaching, or they are choosing not to have this work and lifestyle. There is an unbelievably high quality of candidate out there, and we are certainly selecting them at York.

Q633 Chair: So we have the best candidates we have ever had and 90% of initial teacher training provision is found to be outstanding or good, and yet when we go to the classroom we find that only 60% of teaching is found to be of that quality. How does that match up?

Paula Mountford: You are judging when they have become teachers. You will remember that PGCE is a nine-month course at secondary level. We are taking people from the age of 21 up to the late 50s and introducing them to a whole range of professional skills to go on to become NQTs. I think it takes three to five years to develop a great teacher. Part of what we have to be judging is the move from having a half-timetable, where they build up to a PGC, to literally a full timetable, or just a little bit off, often with a tutor group and all the other demands on teaching. The move from a trainee to an NQT is quite a difficult judgment, and it needs time and support to develop trainees even further.

Sarah Trussler: Currently, I run an undergraduate four-year programme, which will be a three-year programme from September, and also a PGCE, which will soon be a SCITT. It is very difficult to judge somebody at 18 as a potential teacher or professional, which is what we are looking for. We have 1,100 applicants for 150 places. Using groups of children for interviewing just is not practicable. We have to think of ways within a group interview or within audits to try to narrow down those 1,100. Basically, one in eight will get a place. I think it is quite special that we take 150 students, of whom 136 will graduate, to take normal figures, and of those, 60%-odd will be outstanding before they have even entered the classroom. On their behalf, they are working extremely hard. Nobody ever pretends to them-I am sure my colleagues agree-that it is an easy profession to go into. We never make any bones about the fact that PGCE and undergraduate programmes are extremely tough. Effectively, for an undergraduate programme you are doing a full-time degree as well as training to be a teacher, so they are taking on a huge load and doing very well.

Q634 Chair: You have eight applications for each position. Is that the same for the other witnesses?

Mike Hickman: Yes, or more.

Paula Mountford: It depends at secondary. I see some people in the audience here who we trained at York, where for 12 or 13 history places we had 270 applications. For some subjects like English and history we select; for other subjects like modern foreign languages, sciences and maths we recruit, so there is a difference at secondary level.

Q635 Ian Mearns: You are all here representing three distinctly different institutions but they are all relatively local. What do you consider the strongest or unique elements of your own provision?

Sarah Trussler: I think that being a Catholic institution provides a certain ethos within our university college. We are a small institution with about 3,700 students in total, which means we can offer a very personalised agenda for our students. We know them by name and know their strengths and challenges. We offer a progress tutor system that engages with each student as an individual, and all of them have action plans and targets that are set around their strengths and weaknesses. Coming out of that, we had 97% recruitment last year, so they get jobs. What teachers and certainly head teachers say is that it is the professionalism that gets them the jobs. They have the skills, but you would not expect anybody from our courses not to have that; it is that overall air of professionalism that makes a difference.

Paula Mountford: Firstly, the University of York attracts top quality candidates; secondly, we work in partnership with 50 schools and colleges. We have a very special relationship with York local authority with things like the Science Learning Centre, museums and galleries. Part of what makes us an effective HEI that is leading and facilitating teacher training is that partnership working is at the core of what we do. We work with all the York schools but also with schools from Doncaster up to Middlesbrough, from the coast over to Harrogate. It is the quality of the experiences and opportunities to work with schools, together with the trust and relationships built up over time, which is common to all HEI teacher training, but for us we are particularly blessed with the way we work with our schools.

Mike Hickman: I would echo various things that Sarah and Paula have said. From the perspective of York St John, it is a small institution compared with others, but with some very effective ways of working with, for example, settings other than schools, which members of staff at York St John have developed over a number of years. This microphone is very frustrating-I do apologise.

Ian Mearns: You do a very good Norman Collier impersonation.

Mike Hickman: I know. We have relationships with 450 schools across 15 local authorities, museums, galleries and education centres across the north of England and into Europe, with international experiences. York St John, as recognised by Ofsted and others, has some distinct things to offer in terms of enrichment of experience.

Ian Mearns: Do you know how to recharge batteries?

Mike Hickman: Not this one.

Chair: I think it might be best just to put the microphone down.

Mike Hickman: It is very silly.

Chair: Can most people hear pretty well anyway?

Mike Hickman: We can project, as teachers.

Q636 Ian Mearns: Of course you can. There have been some potential changes in policy towards teacher training indicated by the Government. Do you envisage any drastic changes to your provision as a result of changes of Government policy regarding teacher training or education policy more widely, or do you see some opportunities there?

Mike Hickman: We see lots of opportunities. In common with all HE institutions, we are regularly validating and revalidating programmes and looking for new directions in which to work. I mentioned settings other than schools-looking at new opportunities to enrich programmes. Working with partners and schools in different ways, including those who are interested in teaching school status for example, need not be something that is problematic for universities if they are developing and working on good strong partnership relations anyway.

We are not about sitting still. The revalidation we are looking at currently for all our programmes encompasses different ways of working. Indeed, when I took on the role relatively recently, that came about by looking at whether we could deliver more in schools, for example teaching in school. How can we develop our staff team? We are now taking people on secondment, which is very popular with students-some of the tutors have come in on that-and looking at opportunities for our staff to go out and work in schools in a reciprocal way. I see lots of opportunities here.

What is really important is that there is a discussion, as we have with our partners but also with other institutions nationally, about how teacher education can be taken forward. The most important thing is that we produce outstanding teachers.

Sarah Trussler: We are looking for enabling partnerships at the moment. We got an outstanding grading from Ofsted on partnerships. Therefore, that is something we can gift to a school. We have been approached to sponsor academies, for example, but do not really see it as our remit to go in and take over in any way. That is not what we do best. What we do best is work in partnership with schools, because ultimately all of us are worried about the children. We can work in partnership with a school that does not want to take on the whole load of initial teacher training; they do not want the administration, the quality assurance, or the assessment load, which is huge. Together we could improve initial teacher education, but even more importantly, could offer CPD by working in partnership, with our trainees going to help the pupil/staff ratio and us then helping the staff themselves. Everybody benefits that way.

Paula Mountford: I think it is a combined issue. There are lots of opportunities, as colleagues have stated. I have had more conversations in the past year at head level than for the previous eight years. I do not say that as a criticism; I think that is a really exciting part, because heads have been able to give that role to their professional tutors in schools. All of a sudden, it is right at the top of the agenda. Heads, who will drive and facilitate that change in that partnership, are at the forefront of those conversations with us. I think examples like that are really positive and exciting.

For me there is a worry. We have had very few cuts at York over the past two years to allocated numbers, because they have protected the grade 1 institutions. What does worry me is that other institutions have taken some quite sizeable cuts. HEIs cannot sustain courses, or sections of courses, at secondary. Horse trading has gone on; people have swapped, and there are issues we need to think about. In a region like Hull there might be some teacher recruitment issues that we do not have somewhere like York. For example, losing certain teachers and teacher training might be a cost to the system as a whole. We need to be engaged in this kind of dialogue through things like UCET, where we are talking and working towards a solution that is good for the nation as a whole, not just a grade 1 institution.

Chair: We have a limited number of minutes left, so short questions and answers please.

Q637 Craig Whittaker: Mike, you mentioned in your evidence that you had reviewed not just the Ofsted criteria but had added your own stuff.

Mike Hickman: Yes.

Q638 Craig Whittaker: What do you look at when assessing potential applicants?

Mike Hickman: Obviously, we are interested in academic achievement. We are looking at undergraduate versus postgraduate. As to postgraduates, we have always looked at degree classification-subjects studied, etc-now with a view towards firsts and 2.1s, as stated. That has changed the lens slightly. Such is the competition for places that it was always thus. The people going for places tend to be those with the best profile.

As to undergraduates, you are looking for people who address the UCAS tariff requirements and have the required English, maths and science, but also have a real breadth of subject experience and demonstrated interest and involvement in education, in so far as possible, in the lead-up to a degree. For secondary RE, again there are subject knowledge requirements and also the wider picture. Beyond that, in interview we are looking for people who can demonstrate personal skills via group tasks and, increasingly, having revised the processes we use, can demonstrate teaching skills in interview and can work with a group and demonstrate that.

Q639 Craig Whittaker: But how do you, therefore, assess them through the course? This afternoon we have heard evidence from undergraduates going into primary schools that the standard of some colleagues is not up to scratch and they should not really be teaching.

Chair: In a small number of cases.

Mike Hickman: Their student teacher colleagues?

Craig Whittaker: Yes.

Mike Hickman: There will be such people, which is why we revise interview procedures.

Q640 Craig Whittaker: But how do you assess them and make sure that those poorer quality teachers do not get through the system?

Mike Hickman: We have cause-for-concern procedures-my colleagues in non-QTS courses are, I suppose, jealous of the procedures we have-and formal meeting procedures, without going into all the details of paperwork or bureaucracy, that allow us to fail students.

Q641 Craig Whittaker: How many do you kick off your course every year?

Mike Hickman: From the PG course we might lose three or four.

Q642 Craig Whittaker: Out of how many?

Mike Hickman: Out of 144 in a year group.

Q643 Craig Whittaker: Less than 2%.

Mike Hickman: Yes. People fail, but on some occasions it is to do with health or individual reasons, or mitigating circumstances where they cannot complete a placement, so there is a broad picture of different experiences. There are people who may go through to SE1 or SE2-first or second school experience-and have difficulties, which may be for a range of reasons.

Q644 Craig Whittaker: But that is not particularly because of an assessment process you put them through as a course provider.

Mike Hickman: They are assessed and appraised both with their mentors and in collaboration with link tutors and university staff in such a way that the ambition is that they do not get through to a final placement and then fail.

Q645 Craig Whittaker: Paula, is it any different for you?

Paula Mountford: We have a system similar to Teach First, so we have five criteria by which we select. We are looking for professional knowledge at selection. We look for organisation, communication, problem solving and reflection. Those are the five from which we would select. Throughout the course we have a higher withdrawal rate than that, so we have a low fail rate because we take these people on in September and work with them. It is very difficult if people get to the stage where they have been failed on something and we have built up that relationship, so we have a withdrawal rate where we help people and counsel them off the programme.

Q646 Craig Whittaker: What is the percentage?

Paula Mountford: That can be 10% or 12% a year of the people we take on. We stand by that in Ofsted, because sometimes people need to start the PGCE, and we select everyone by having a teacher from one of our partnership schools selecting with us, so we are not doing this on our own.

Mike Hickman: As we do.

Paula Mountford: That is very common practice. Sometimes people do not make it for all the reasons Mike gave, but also for the reason that people are just not cut out for the teaching profession. We also have to remember that when trainees are on placement at secondary, the school is in the driving seat in terms of making judgments that they are not passing. You cannot pass a PGCE unless you pass your school placements, and it is the schools that are in the driving seat in terms of passing, applying grades and making those decisions.

Q647 Craig Whittaker: Although we have heard evidence today from the head teachers that they should not be the ones to break the news to the trainees.

Paula Mountford: It is not about breaking the news; it is part of the whole picture. Remember that trainees do two placements and spend three quarters of the time with schools. No one person makes a decision, but a big chunk of the decision to pass somebody on a course is based upon school-based practice, even in the present system before we bring in the changes. That is right and proper, and I am 100% behind that.

Sarah Trussler: As to who makes the final decision, if you have a partnership agreement everybody knows what their role is. Maybe the role for putting somebody forward for us to verify whether it is a fail or not is that of the school-based tutor or head, but we make the decision whether or not that person has failed based on the evidence we gather from the school-based tutor, the class teacher and perhaps the head.

Q648 Craig Whittaker: What is your drop-out rate?

Sarah Trussler: On the PGCE programme, I failed two out of 16. It is the first year that we have had a PGCE. From the undergraduate programme, we lose 15% in the first year through academic failure and slightly more due to school-based training; that is, "Oh, help-I didn’t realise that teaching was like this." About 80% of them transfer to another course in the university, so we are not losing them to HE; we are just losing them to schools.

Q649 Chair: How many walk and how many are pushed?

Sarah Trussler: Probably four or five are counselled out.

Q650 Chair: Out of how many?

Sarah Trussler: Out of 150 each year.

Mike Hickman: If we take the undergraduate route, there might be on average two a year where we will make that decision and counsel them out.

Sarah Trussler: But if they fail one standard while they are in school-one out of the 32-they are automatically failed.

Q651 Chair: Is it half and half? I am trying to get a sense of the proportion. Of the people who quit, what proportion just say, "Hey, I’m out of here," and how many are counselled out?

Mike Hickman: It varies from year to year.

Sarah Trussler: I would say that slightly more make the decision themselves than we fail academically.

Mike Hickman: I think slightly more, yes.

Q652 Damian Hinds: To put a question for clarification to make sure we understand, you said two different things. First, you said that if you failed one of your school placements you could not pass, and later you said that the school placement was a big part of the overall result. Those two things are not the same thing.

Paula Mountford: No.

Q653 Damian Hinds: Which is the right one?

Paula Mountford: Let me clarify that. To pass the course you have to meet all the standards. If you meet all the standards, you will have passed your placements. No one partner makes that decision, but you cannot pass the course as a whole-

Q654 Damian Hinds: I am sorry; you have lost me again. It is one or the other, isn’t it?

Paula Mountford: No, it is not. For your partnership working you need to pass all the components of the course.

Q655 Damian Hinds: But you then said that no one could make that decision.

Paula Mountford: But if you fail the school placement, it is very difficult to pass the PGCE.

Q656 Damian Hinds: It is difficult but not impossible, so it is not a gate.

Paula Mountford: We would have to leave room for mitigating circumstances. If you leave because you are pregnant, we will not fail you; we will give you a second placement chance, so it is not a 100% thing.

Q657 Craig Whittaker: How do you actively promote your establishments?

Sarah Trussler: We actively promote through the normal marketing routes, but also partly through the excellence we have built up with schools. An awful lot of ours is word of mouth; 75% of our graduates work in the Leeds and Bradford area, which is where we recruit most of our trainees. They are working in schools with our graduates, who are the heads, etc.

Q658 Craig Whittaker: How do you promote that? How do you make sure that Joe Bloggs coming through a school understands that your establishment is a great way to go and teaching is a great profession to be in?

Sarah Trussler: We do case studies that are clearly advertised on the website. For example, this person came through this route; this is what she is doing now. She is getting what she wanted out of teaching, which is making a difference to children’s lives, and is enjoying the profession. Generally, we like to see somebody who is going places. Perhaps they have taken over a leadership role for a subject area, or they are developing expertise in a particular area, so it is the whole package.

Q659 Craig Whittaker: Do the other two witnesses do anything different?

Mike Hickman: In view of the developments in education and the White Paper and Green Paper, we have appointed a head of external relations on top of the things the university would ordinarily expect to be involved in: marketing and TDA events, for example Train to Teach last weekend, which we clearly wish to be involved in. The job of the head of external relations is to be out there engaging with schools, and working with one head teacher you spoke to earlier, about things like how we can be engaged in perhaps a teaching school bid or a cluster way of working. As part of that getting out to talk to heads and staff, clearly that raises the profile of what we do.

Paula Mountford: I want some York graduates as well, so we do a lot of internal marketing. I want those people who have already got into York with two As and a B at Alevel and are on fantastic courses.

Q660 Craig Whittaker: Do you support the introduction of a preentry interpersonal skills test and making the literacy and numeracy tests pre-entry as well?

Sarah Trussler: The difficulty with undergraduates is that you are talking about two different levels of people. I support doing English and maths for postgraduates, because they have only nine months to get there. We do English audits as part of the interview procedure for undergraduates, and we have taken in people with a weakness in English who have been fine by the time they graduate four years later. There needs to be consideration of the difference between various courses. In part of the interview process we look at personal attributes and how they are engaging in conversations about teaching, using their experience, discussing children, etc. I think a test would be difficult. Asking us to consider ways in which we can involve that in our interview process would be fine.

Q661 Craig Whittaker: So your answer is no.

Sarah Trussler: Not a test, but I am happy to look at the attributes.

Q662 Craig Whittaker: Paula, do you feel any different?

Paula Mountford: We piloted some of the psychometric testing at York for the TDA. We would give it another go, but it did not over-impress me. I am very happy with having a pre-entry numeracy and literacy test.

Mike Hickman: We were also involved in the pilot. It seems to offer, if it works well, quite a lot of very useful things. Why would you ignore a very useful additional measure for people coming into teaching? The same goes for the QTS tests. Before training, I can see a very good rationale for that. I heard the point raised earlier about why you would go all the way through a PGCE only to find that you could not pass them. I think that is a very fair point.

Q663 Craig Whittaker: So, it is yes, yes and maybe.

Sarah Trussler: For undergraduate, no; for postgraduate, fine.

Q664 Damian Hinds: What are the main direct and indirect ways that the eventual outcomes of your students and their success as classroom teachers impact on the income of your institutions?

Mike Hickman: One way that we wish to enhance it that currently exists is through our recently renamed CPD department, which is part of the faculty of education and theology. It has just been renamed children, young people and education. We would like to see that grow so that more of our student teachers go through and work on master’s level courses, for example, and work with us on CPD. That is one way that can be seen, though not hugely at the moment, but it is something that tying the two areas together and working much more closely together-even rebranding-aims to do.

Q665 Damian Hinds: I may not have asked the question very well. Eventually, your students will leave and, hopefully, become teachers; some of them will not. Of the ones who do become teachers, some will be great teachers, some will be good teachers and some will be other teachers. How does the number of people who do not become teachers at all or who become outstanding teachers impact, directly or indirectly-it may be just indirectly-on your income as an institution?

Mike Hickman: Another direct impact, if I am following the question, is the number who continue to work with us, or go on to work with us, as mentors and support our students year on year after they have trained with us. That has a direct impact on our partnership.

Q666 Damian Hinds: I suppose what I am trying to get at is: over and above professional pride, which you will have-all of you want to produce excellent teachers-what incentives are there in the system for the teachers who come out of your system to be outstanding teachers?

Paula Mountford: I think there are at the present. Because under the present system we got grade 1s, we were not cut in a way that devastated us. For the past two years we have had only 7% cuts. We were protected because we got grade 1s. Grade 1s are based on outcomes for teachers. The basic outcomes are did we recruit, did they pass and did they get jobs? If you have achieved that under the present system in the past two years, you have kept your numbers buoyant. Therefore, that means I can keep my staffing and my projects working with schools, so there is an incentive in that way at present.

Mike Hickman: And a very direct one on allocations.

Q667 Damian Hinds: I guess that things like your position in the good teacher training guide will be one of the things people look at when looking for a course?

Paula Mountford: Certainly.

Q668 Damian Hinds: If hypothetically these incentives were made much sharper-for example that you got no money for training anybody who dropped out and did not become a teacher or who was not still teaching after two or three years, and even for those who did become teachers you had massively differential remuneration depending on whether they turn out to be outstanding teachers whom their students love and their colleagues look up to versus somebody who is just middle of the road-how would you change your recruitment and selection processes?

Sarah Trussler: I do not think we would. Our recruitment and selection is as good as it can be. We have group interviews and teaching sessions. You have to think before you do that about the context in which these people will work. You might be putting somebody in a very small school where it is very easy to get close community relationships, and therefore feel nurtured, have fantastic CPD and become a good jobbing teacher. Equally, you might go to a school where getting relationships with the community is extremely hard; the children come from a transient population, and the leadership of the school does not provide training. That is not a reflection on us as a training environment but on where they go.

Chair: After all, you have just said that you could not be any better.

Q669 Damian Hinds: For Paula and Mike, let me just make a suggestion and hang it out to dry to see what you think of it. One thing to come out of all those we have spoken to during the course of this inquiry is that you cannot tell from somebody’s CV whether they will be a good teacher. In interview it is quite difficult, although very experienced head teachers might be able to do it instinctively. If you are to know whether somebody will be a good teacher, you have to see them teach. Therefore, the suggestion that I hang out to dry is that if you are to ratchet up the process even more, you will spend more time finding ways to observe people in teaching situations. Is that fair?

Mike Hickman: I agree with you. Our secondary programme, which is easier to do because it is a smaller one, allows for interview in school. There is direct involvement by school partners in that interview process.

Q670 Damian Hinds: Talk us through the format of that.

Mike Hickman: Rather than a university-based interview, they go into school, meet with and are questioned by members of staff who are very closely involved in the teaching of that subject area of RE-it can include children as well. They are given group tasks; they can be given more to do in terms of teaching. We have just done that with the PG primary course, where they now engage in a teaching activity as part of the interview. I would see it developing in that way.

We have taken the secondary programme with a small group, which is easier to do-it has had great success as an outstanding programme in terms of identifying students with potential-and are now moving that into PG primary and then the undergraduate programme. My answer to your original question is that we would look more at those teaching qualities within interview, which is something we are already doing.

Q671 Pat Glass: The evidence we have had so far suggests that higher education-led or school-led teaching looks very similar to students; they cannot tell the difference. The difference is where the money goes. We have also heard that employment-based ITT brings more men, and more people over 25, into primary. Is my first assumption right-that the difference between higher education and school-based or school-led ITT from the point of view of the student looks the same-and it is just about where the money goes? Secondly, is it not right that if we are bringing more men and people over 25 into primary, we would welcome a more diverse system?

Mike Hickman: In answer to your first question, my immediate thought is that they do not have to look the same, but if you have a school that is providing a school-based partnership with very good quality training, it would be doing and talking about many of the same things that good quality higher education training would be doing. They need not necessarily look the same, but I can see the point.

Paula Mountford: I think a variety of routes is good. A mixed economy is really healthy, because different people need different things, whether you are a career changer or a 21-year-old. We are living in a world where perhaps we are telling school generations that they will have several jobs in their careers. We are back to the point about why people may enter the teaching profession for a period of time. If we can get different people from different backgrounds and walks of life, I am all for a mixed economy.

I am concerned about securing the HEI route and the work we contribute to the standard of trainees we are producing by working in partnership schools. Do not forget all the extra things we do by way of working with school staff and the kind of platform for CPD that we give school staff. We have seven school teachers from local schools working on the PGCE with us at this moment. It is a matter of remembering that the different routes can all bring something different, and you cannot measure each exactly one against the other, but a mixed economy has to be good for the modern world.

Sarah Trussler: I say the same. Currently, we are offering an undergraduate four-year, soon to be three-year, SCITT, a PGCE and we have students going through the assessment-only route. All of those are suitable for different people at different stages of their lives. As to comparing SCITT with PGCE, they are very different. They have different entry requirements; they have a different level of college input; and the application to the classroom is much quicker on the SCITT route. We are focusing on generating teachers for their community in their community, so I would say that our routes have very distinct features.

Q672 Pat Glass: If we go down the route of a more diverse ITT system, are there some universities and higher education ITT providers that will fare better than others? Without naming any, which ones do you think will fare badly? What would be the outcome of having more diversity?

Sarah Trussler: I think that if you have strong partnerships, you will be fine. If you are working with schools, you know how they are operating and they are comfortable working with you directly, there is no reason why your HEI should suffer.

Mike Hickman: And that is what we should be doing anyway.

Paula Mountford: In secondary, with the allocation of very small numbers to some HEIs across the country, institutions are already having to say that they are not economically viable. We are in danger of losing some expertise, so that makes me fear for some institutions.

Q673 Pat Glass: Is that in particular subjects, like music or RE?

Paula Mountford: At the moment, these are things outside the E-Bac. Obviously, it is right to protect teacher supply; I am all for that, but anybody can work out that allocating somebody four places cannot be economically viable.

Q674 Pat Glass: So there is a danger for particular subjects.

Paula Mountford: I fear that we will lose certain expertise that we have built up over time.

Q675 Ian Mearns: Do you think there is anything we can do with CPD to make the profession more attractive to potential entrants?

Paula Mountford: I think there is. It is my personal belief that although a trainee leaves me after a nine-month or one-year course and goes into school, it takes three to five years. Some trainees need CPD that is about support and nurturing. Some are so fabulous and fantastic that they need CPD that is opportunity-based, and it is about giving them an opportunity to grow, flourish and take that on quite quickly. They need to be in schools where they will not be accused of being young upstarts because they need that opportunity, so it is about a culture of recognising those two avenues.

Sarah Trussler: Also, partly because our courses now offer master’s credits, we are automatically moving them into CPD. For example, on our PGCE programme they do 60 credits of master’s, 30 of which will be completed while they are in their NQT year. They are keeping in mind the idea that they have not finished anything when they have done their degree; it is continual, and it would be nice to keep up a relationship with the HEI while they are doing that.

Mike Hickman: I echo that point and stress initial teacher education, or initial teacher training. They have slightly different meanings. We are at the start of a process throughout which student teachers who become NQTs need to be supported.

Earlier a point was made about outstanding. How can a certain percentage of outstanding student teachers translate into a lower percentage of outstanding teachers out there in school? Without going into the statistics, one point is that they are outstanding as student teachers, and that is how it should be recognised. An outstanding student teacher at the end of their training is not necessarily the outstanding person in the classroom. They need a continual challenge and push to make sure that because they are recognised in that way at the end of the training, they are not just told, "You’re fine now; you don’t need training."

Chair: I thank the three of you very much for giving evidence to us today.

Prepared 30th April 2012