Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Kee l e Uni v ers it y

Summary of Key Points

The role of HEIs across a range of provision, not just “traditional mainstream”.

The high quality of existing ITT, as evidenced by OfSTED Inspections and the TDA.

Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT) survey.

The importance and success of existing collaborative partnerships between HEIs and schools.

The need to ensure that all early career teachers have an entitlement to receive high quality professional development.

The importance of ensuring that proposed new entry requirements for ITT should be flexible enough to enable those with evidence of alternative high level qualifications and/or attainment and who have the potential to be effective teachers should not be excluded from the profession.

The need to ensure that propose changes do not destabilise teacher supply.

The need to ensure that changes do not adversely affect regulatory frameworks.

Introduction

1. The quality of the teaching profession lies at the heart of economic and social advancement. They are one of, if not the, most significant of the factors making a difference to the learning of children. It is essential, therefore, that those with the greatest potential to be successful and effective in the classroom, and in the profession more generally, are attracted, and that policies and practice are effective in respect of both recruitment and retention. We are supportive of the Government’s wish to improve the quality of those entering the teaching profession. The Select Committee inquiry is, therefore, most welcome. This paper represents the formal response from Keele University, an institution that is a long established provider of high quality secondary ITT and one that has a history of innovation and collaboration in respect of developing ITT—related programmes to address the shortage of teachers, particularly in STEM subjects.

2. We believe that the increased diversity of routes that has developed over a number of years is the most effective way to enable those with the right attributes, but who come from different backgrounds and with different motivations to enter the profession. The Higher Education sector plays a significant role, not only in what has been seen as “traditional” HEI-school partnership Initial Teacher Training (ITT). Universities and other HEIs are involved with employment-based provision and with SCITTS (school-centred providers). A number of universities across England are closely involved in the management and delivery of the Teach First programme.

3. Diversity of routes into the profession has also been enhanced through the development of pre-ITT Subject Knowledge Enhancement (SKE) courses. These have proved to be invaluable in enabling the sector to respond to the shortage of subject specialist teachers in key strategic subjects—particularly Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics.

4. Whilst we are supportive of the current review of initial teacher training and continuing professional development, and of the need to develop stronger partnerships—with high-quality schools taking an increased role—we do believe that some of the assumptions of the review are based on a false premise of a divorce between HEI-based “theoretical” training and school-based “practical” professional development. Trainees already undertake up to two-thirds of their initial training within school-based placements. Trainee teachers on “school-based” programmes are entitled to 60 days of professional training, and much of this is delivered in partnership/by HEIs. Successful partnership ensures that there is already extensive collaboration between school-based mentors and HEI tutors in the development and delivery of the programmes (indeed, the effectiveness of partnership is a key focus of inspection by OfSTED).

5. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools, in her annual report of November 2010, pointed out that 94% of training that was “mainstream” (HEI-led) ITT was good or better. This was a significantly higher figure than for employment-based routes. Further, the employment-based training routes that were of the highest quality were more often to be those where an HEI was the Designated Recommending Body or where there was strong HEI involvement.

6. Judgements that indicate that the quality of Initial Teacher training is already high are reinforced on an annual basis by the TDA Newly Qualified Teacher Survey. The 2011 TDA survey, for those NQTs who completed their ITT programme in 2010, indicated that 87 % of those who responded (50% of the cohort) felt that their initial training had been good or very good; this was an improvement of 3% on the previous year.

7. We do recognise that there are important issues to consider in respect of completion and retention, across all routes in to the profession, and these have important value for money implications. However, it is important that the current and future direction of policy and practice ensures that the profession continues to be underpinned by successful partnerships, and enables providers to have some degree of flexibility in respect of recruitment—to ensure that those with outstanding potential and high achievement are not excluded from the profession as a result of new entry requirements.

8. We also recognise that there is an ongoing need to ensure that there is an effective approach to meeting the early professional development needs of teachers. Within a PGCE that is of 36 weeks’ (Secondary) or 38 weeks’ (primary) duration, there are limitations to what can be addressed. Beyond this initial training (which is carefully monitored both through the OfSTED Inspection process and through HEI Quality Assurance frameworks), the experience of newly-qualified and early-career teachers varies—in respect of both quality and access to professional development. Important advances have been made through the development of Master’s Level credits within the PGCE; and retention in the profession, and enhancement of performance, could be achieved through an ongoing commitment to professional development on the part of teachers, supported by their school/Local Authority/employer.

Select Committee questions 1 and 2: (recruitment to teacher training)

9. The Coalition Government has proposed a number of changes to the recruitment and selection of teachers. We are supportive of moves that will enhance both the quality of teaching and learning and the status of the profession. There are already very clear expectations as to the criteria for selecting candidates (again, monitored by OfSTED through Inspection). These include academic attainment, relevant experience, effective communication and interpersonal skills, potential to be effective in the classroom and a clear commitment to the profession. Judgements are made in collaboration with school-based colleagues from partner institutions. In addition to this, all ITT providers have to ensure that any entrant to training meets the minimum requirements as set out by the Secretary of State.

10. The Government has proposed that, from 2012, those applicants who have a degree lower than a 2.2 will not be eligible for public funding support. In respect of the recruitment of high-quality trainees, we would strongly suggest a more circumspect approach to the relationship between degree classification and potential to be a teacher. High-quality subject knowledge, and the pedagogical understanding of subject, are absolutely central to effective teaching and learning; however, having a first-class honours degree does not automatically mean that you will be effective. Some of the highest-quality teachers that we have produced at Keele University have had degrees at 2.2 or lower. Some will have undertaken additional study; many bring to their initial training a wealth and breadth of experience in other sectors; and all of them have demonstrated the interpersonal and “softer” skills that make them effective communicators in the classroom, which in turn enables them to engage children in learning.

11. Higher entry qualifications will have a positive impact on status, and that in turn should have benefits for recruitment. However, we would wish to encourage some flexibility in respect of recruitment; without this, there is a danger that a number of potentially outstanding teachers will be lost to the profession, and that there will be a disproportionate impact on strategic shortage subjects. Mature students who have lower than a 2.2 but who have a range of professional experience and/or qualifications, those with nationally recognised degree-equivalent qualifications, those with overseas degrees and those with Higher Degrees (for example, HND + MA/MBA) will be lost to the profession unless there is provision for some flexibility.

12. For a number of years, the TDA has successfully worked with providers to deliver Subject Knowledge Enhancement courses, and a minority of participants have been those who have gained, at some point in the past, a degree below a 2.2 (many of these are career changers who bring a range of professional and other skills that are highly valuable in respect of teaching). These candidates have developed their subject knowledge in the pre-ITT year and have gone on to be highly successful during their PGCE year. Under Government proposals, these people will be not be eligible for funding support either for the SKE course or for the PGCE. Again, we would encourage some flexibility as these programmes are making a significant contribution to the supply of teachers in subjects such as Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics.

13. Consultation by the Government has rightly noted the importance of high-quality communication/social/interpersonal skills as a pre-requisite for entry to training. These are already key selection criteria for all providers and there are also some excellent examples of practice—for example, Teach First. It will be important, whatever is proposed under the new requirements, that there is some flexibility for institutions to design and implement practice, and that there is a recognition that assessment of interpersonal skills is an “end point”; the purpose of an Initial Teacher Training programme is, at least in part, to develop those very skills that will make the newly qualified teacher much more effective in the classroom and wider school settings.

14. The proposal to require literacy and numeracy judgements to be part of pre-entry selection is something that we can support in principle; the savings to the Exchequer cannot be ignored. However, there may be significant logistical challenges that may impact upon the management of recruitment targets. Further, there are a minority of applicants who may have specific learning impediments that have not been identified. It is only on their ITT programme that these are identified and addressed, thus enabling them to move forward successfully and become highly effective teachers.

15. In general, we welcome the proposed PGCE training bursaries. They will be important both in terms of recruitment and retention at a time when we move to a new fee regime for ITT from 2012, with providers charging at or close to £9,000 as a consequence of the removal of the teaching grant. The proposed range of bursaries is £20,000–£4,000, depending upon subject and degree classification, with no funding support for those with a degree below a 2.2. Whilst we recognise the importance of a market dimension to the differentiated level of the bursaries, we believe that it will be important to monitor the impact both on supply in subjects that carry a lower bursary and completion rates within and across subjects and age phases.

Select Committee question 3: (organisation, content and type of teacher training)

16. The Government has indicated that it wishes to see the transfer of the management of ITT from Government to schools over a period of five to 10 years. We have concerns about this in respect of both the management of the national supply of teachers and the regulation and quality assurance of the system. We believe that it is essential to retain an overarching responsibility for the maintenance and management of supply. Without this, there is a danger that the current system could be destabilized which would result in a decline in quality, the loss of significant capacity, the reduction/disappearance of economies of scale and particular negative impacts on teacher supply which would be disproportionate for those schools that face challenging circumstances.

17. There is little or no evidence that schools have either the appetite or the capacity to take over the responsibility for the recruitment and training of teachers to meet the national labour supply needs. Nor would they be willing to take on the responsibility for public accountability and scrutiny (through inspection) that would be required.

18. The potential removal of funding from HEIs may well result in significant closures of Schools/Faculties of Education, and provision within HEI would not be sustainable if it is dependent upon potential demand for particular “offerings” in a piecemeal manner. Further, it is not likely that HEIs will want to take on responsibility for trainee teachers whom they have had little or no part in recruiting.

19. The great strength of current ITT provision is that there have been significant year-on-year improvements as a consequence of high levels of scrutiny and public accountability. These advances have also been achieved within a framework of extremely strong partnerships between HEIs and schools.

20. It is HEIs that are best placed to access the undergraduate market for trainee teachers (still by far the single most significant group of applicants to ITT). University provision and university awards carries status and this is a factor for many of those who apply to teacher training. Whilst employment-based ITT is attractive, relevant and meets individual requirements for some trainees, we have concerns that any significant reduction in the involvement of HEIs in ITT could impact upon the supply of applicants.

21. There is a danger that the changes could result in the marginalisation of the HE sector in ITT—in recruitment and selection, in training and in assessment and quality assurance, with the consequence that decisions are taken to close teacher education completely in many HEIs. Such an outcome would have important ramifications for other aspects of Government Education policy, which is seeking to encourage stronger collaboration between schools and HEIs.

22. As already noted (paragraph 5), the quality of training through HEI “mainstream” provision is higher than for other routes and the highest quality employment-based provision is delivered in partnership with HEIs. However, many SCITTs and EBITTs are excellent and play an important role in training entrants to the profession who would otherwise not consider coming in to teaching. When one considers other newly introduced routes, such as Teach First, it may be more appropriate to have an approach that recognises diversity within a “sector” which meets differing needs—schools, trainees, geographical locations, subjects—whilst at the same time recognising the important role that HEIs have, working in partnership, across this diverse provision.

Select Committee question 4: (Teacher Professional Standards)

23. It is not yet evident whether the new Professional Standards will make a difference to practice. Professional Standards have existed for Initial Teacher Training since 1992. It was only in 2007 that the profession had Standards that covered different stages of a teacher’s career:

Q—for initial training.

C—Core standards for all qualified teachers.

P—Post threshold standards.

24. In addition, there have been Standards for Advanced Skills Teachers and for Excellent Teachers. There is limited evidence that the profession has engaged with the Standards in a robust and effective way. There are some concerns that the use of Standards, in a consistent and effective manner, does not continue beyond the end of the initial training.

25. The new professional standards certainly have a “sharper focus” on the core elements of effective practice as a teacher in the classroom to achieve high level outcomes for all pupils. These Standards will be used by ITT providers, as they have in the past, to inform programme design in a manner that will enable trainees not only to meet the Standards but to demonstrate capabilities that go beyond these.

26. However, whilst the new Standards provide a strong baseline, there is still a need to look at how these can be used effectively to inform differentiated judgments. Only through so doing could one then start to consider using the Standards as a framework to inform any attempt to reward teachers on a “performance” basis. All of this is notwithstanding the fact that there has been resistance to any move towards performance-related pay from the professional associations (but again noting that there has already been change in schools who have, for example, achieved Academy status).

Select Committee questions 5 and 6: (Rewards and Retention)

27. Consultation on the future of Initial Teacher Education has placed emphasis on poor retention rates during initial training, in the NQT year and in the early years of teaching. Further, reference has been made to the difference in employment rates for different training routes. Data collected can distort the true picture, when it is gathered within six months of completing initial training. Many trainees take time before seeking and/or gaining a full-time position—having undertaken supply work and/or undertaken additional study to further enhance their capabilities.

28. Whilst evidence may indicate a higher employability rate from those who have undertaken employment-based training routes, the gap is significantly reduced about four years after qualifying. This should, in addition, be set against the different training costs, in order to establish an accurate picture in respect of value and cost.

29. Any move to change significantly the balance between HEI “mainstream and employment-based initial training would result in the recruitment of those who would have, in other circumstances, followed an HEI programme”. It would be expected, therefore, that employability associated with non-HEI routes would fall and be in line with other pathways.

30. In respect of retention in the profession, we believe that reasons for leaving the profession can only in part lie with the initial training experience. As already noted (paragraph 8), there are limits to what can be addressed in an initial training course (PGCE) that is of such a short duration; the initial training should be seen as the start of the professional development process which is built on as an NQT and beyond. Evidence from our own ITT partnership indicates that teachers look to leave the profession within three to five years of training due to a range of factors. These may include institution-specific cultural elements. However, the lack of support and high quality CPD is a theme that frequently is cited. We are concerned therefore that a change in the balance of initial training and CDP, with schools taking an increasing lead, will neither lead to an improvement in quality nor in levels of retention (not withstanding the impact that high quality Teaching Schools can have to support improvements in quality).

31. The retention of excellent teachers is absolutely vital to the future economic and social development of the country. To support this retention, we believe that there should be an entitlement to high-quality professional development for all teachers. This should be tailored to individual need and should build on the initial training undertaken. Attainment could be reflected through the status of “chartered teacher”. The proposed requirement of having and renewing a “licence to teach” under the previous Government is something that may have ensured that there was that requirement to “upskill” and retain “currency and effectiveness”.

32. The development of teaching as a Master’s level profession is something that we believe will do much to enhance both the quality and the status of teachers. The introduction of the Master’s in Teaching and Learning (MTL) under the previous Government was an important initiative, notwithstanding some of the challenges around its introduction; and the removal of funding support is something that is to be regretted (the expense of the programme as originally structured is recognised and a number of HEI are working to reconfigure this programme to enable it to continue to be offered as part of the professional development portfolio available to teachers).

33. The loss of public funding to support professional development, other than through initiatives such as the National Scholarship Scheme, should not in itself be an insurmountable barrier to the ongoing provision of high quality CPD and Master-s level study and research. The role of Teaching Schools and the Teaching School alliances (which will include HEIs) can play an important role in promoting and facilitating Master’s level work through a focus on school improvement, learning and teaching, and on how advanced study has a direct impact upon personal professional practice and upon the retention of teachers.

34. In respect of retaining teachers and supporting their ongoing professional development—without resorting to financial incentivisation—there are already many excellent examples that we can learn from: joint appointments between HEIs and schools; secondments on a part- or full-time basis; supporting research in the classroom through HEI staff working alongside teachers.

35. A theme through this response has been the importance of existing HEI-school partnerships, and our concern that proposed changes may have an adverse impact on much that is already effective. Nowhere is this more evident that in the area of teacher supply and challenging schools. Our University, in common with its peers in the sector, works with a wide and diverse range of schools. Many of these are schools that face challenging circumstances—in both urban and rural settings. The labour-supply needs of these schools in respect of “mainscale” teachers are met, to a very significant degree, through working within ITT providers—trainees being appointed after a successful placement or another trainee from the programme being recommended. As NQTs, these teachers develop, and many move on to promoted posts within the school—the teachers being supported through a partnership approach to CPD with the University.

November 2011

Prepared 30th April 2012