Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers

The National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers was instituted to provide support for and to represent the views of those leading school based Initial Teacher Training. The training offered is limited to postgraduate initial teacher training, there is no undergraduate provision. This includes the mainstream programme (SCITT—School Centred Initial Teacher Training) and EBITT (Employment Based Initial Teacher Training)—through the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP).

Whilst there is a sense in which all current teacher training can be said to be school based the underpinning philosophy encompassed by school based training providers is distinctive from the use of schools as training partners by Higher Education Institutions. The bedrock of this philosophy is an apprenticeship model, whereby a sustained relationship with an experienced practitioner is developed within close experience of the environment in which future employment will be undertaken. The experience gained of the “rhythms” of the school year is an effective induction into the early years of employment. Such apprenticeship models are and must continue to be underpinned by firm academic principles and practice and an openness to recent and relevant research. Reflective practice is central to school based philosophy and by implication practice precedes reflection.

School-based training providers are typically organised and managed by those with recent and direct school experience. Higher level management follows the style of school management and benefits from experience of individual target setting and close monitoring of individual progress (with no excuses accepted in relation to large numbers of trainees). Management’s closeness to school priorities ensures training is both current and relevant. It also provides managers and strategists with experience of the development of teachers’ careers such that the expectations of early career development are well understood.

1. What evidence is available to help identify the sorts of applicants who become the most effective teachers, and the strategies known to be effective in attracting these applicants?

1.1 The experience of school-based providers suggests the key characteristics and strengths of good or effective teachers are not “made” exclusively during a one-year teacher training course. To a greater or lesser extent they must already be present before training commences and the training programme will highlight their importance and develop them by offering strategies to enable them to blossom. We need, therefore, to define what we mean by “effective” as this concept will determine the characteristics of the applicant being sought.

1.2 Crucially, we also need to determine at what point in the teacher’s career we are determining their effectiveness as this will change the selection criteria adopted. Are we looking for “effective” at the point of QTS assessment, during the NQT year, at end of the first five years or perhaps even longer term and into promotion and management?

1.3 Finally, it is arguable that “effective” in this context is different for Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Post-16, with each sector requiring a different balance of the core skills and characteristics.

1.4 For the purpose of this response, NASBTT is working on the principle “effective” in terms of teacher training should apply to teachers over the long-term (five years+) period. (Anything significantly less than five years ignores the problems with retention and the crucial initial settling in period.)

1.5 Most providers take the Ofsted “outstanding” trainee criteria as a baseline for the potential to become an effective teacher. Many providers adding their own additional criteria based on the distinctive nature of their provision and the vision articulated through individual partnerships. The close and small scale nature of school centred provision makes it easier to agree, articulate, communicate and review this vision and its impact on the quality and effectiveness of trainee outcomes. There has been considerable research in to what makes an effective teacher in the past decade but until there is an agreed and understood national baseline beyond that offered by Ofsted this becomes a complex question to answer.

1.6 The following demonstrates that school-based providers have a strong track record in providing the most effective teachers for the profession:

The Good Teacher Training Guide 2010 provides rankings for ITT providers. These are derived from combining the standardised scores for entry qualifications, Ofsted inspections and employment in teaching. A comparison of the top 10 universities and top10 SCITTs shows that only two universities would have got into the listings of the top 10 SCITTs (pg. 3 chart 2.3 and pg.6 chart 2.8).

The same publication also explores inspection grades providing some interesting data; eleven of the SCITTs obtained maximum grades from Ofsted in the year sampled compared with 13 university courses. Seven primary SCITTs achieved perfect scores as did four secondary SCITTs (five and eight universities).

Chart 2.11 in this guide demonstrates that SCITTs achieve higher scores in relation to entry to teaching.

Whilst NASBTT has concerns about reliance on the NQT survey in terms of the empirical satisfaction ratings in a particular year, the survey does provide useful inferences of trends. Data from the 2011 survey indicates that trainees satisfaction ratings of very good and good with their training in what might be regarded as fundamental aspects of effective teaching, such as behaviour, early reading, SEN and maths are around 10% above the average for the ITT sector as a whole.

1.7 Therefore the recruitment processes used by school-based providers are particularly successful in selecting those with the potential to become the most effective teachers. These processes are detailed and rigorous and draw upon the experience of partner schools of employing high quality staff. School based providers because of their scale and close involvement with schools, teachers and pupils have ample opportunity in the selection process to explore candidates’ potential to become effective practitioners.

These procedures encompass best practice in terms of equality of opportunity and generally culminate in face to face assessment by senior school staff with experience both of observing good teaching and recognising the potential in individuals to perform well in the school environment.

1.8 In addition the close tracking of individual trainee progress which is a hallmark of school-based provision enables the effectiveness of the recruitment process to be analysed and appropriate adjustments made year on year.

Many providers have extensive tracking systems that often go well beyond the NQT year. They are able to track ex-trainees well into their careers and have examples of trainees who are now members of management teams and lead curriculum areas in schools. Many trainees go on to become mentors and see working with trainees as a key part of their ongoing professional development. If these factors are to be deemed criteria for an effective teacher then school centred provision had a good base of evidence on which to draw.

1.9 The correlation between quality of trainee and degree class has not been observed in practice. Prior to the Postgraduate Certificate in Education being genuinely postgraduate in nature, experience suggested that many applicants with third class degrees made successful teachers. There is also evidence that those with third class degrees found the masters level elements of the PGCE more challenging. In our experience there is little to suggest that a first class degree of itself leads to high quality teaching.

1.10 There is concern that the classification of degrees varies between institution and over time. There is therefore no confidence that the potential quality of applicants can be determined by degree classification alone. Further difficulties arise in relation to non-UK degrees and UK degrees that are not classified.

1.11 The recent government commitment to pre entry tests that explore criteria beyond the academic is welcome and of interest in light of the statements related to degree classification.

1.12 In terms of attracting those who will become effective teachers, experience from NASBTT members suggests the following essential criteria:

Ensure the status of the selection process has a high profile with the full involvement of senior staff and that this is visible to applicants—potentially successful teachers will “read” the ethos and make their own decisions.

Ensure the selection process fully involves the schools in partnership as they will identify and promote many of the best applicants.

Ensure the applicants have full and good access to the selection criteria and accurate information about the training so they can prepare themselves for the selection process. Clear, detailed and up to date websites are required.

Ensure that applicants experience a welcoming introduction to the provider—well informed staff on reception and a view that the provider wants to help applicants and wants applicants to apply—demonstration of value to customer!

Publish, maintain and live a set of high expectations for learning, work, enjoyment and success in teaching.

Allow for flexibility—not all applicants fit the mould exactly, and yet they may make successful teachers.

2. Are particular routes into teaching more likely to attract high quality trainees?

2.1 The data described in 1.7 above demonstrates that over time school-based providers have routinely attracted high quality trainees.

2.2 Research by Musset et al demonstrates that trainees who have extensive training in schools perform better as teachers.i

2.3 School based provision by its very nature more easily facilitates whole school involvement in training. School based providers have alongside the schools they work with over time created a wide range of innovative ways of providing quality training in schools.

2.4 Provision is underpinned by a culture of school based professional learning activities which impact on trainees, teachers and pupils. Due to the small scale these programmes have the flexibility to quickly respond to change and new initiatives.

2.5 The provision engages all participants (trainees, teachers and trainers) with the notion of reflective practice underpinned by modelling effective practice, review and self assessment which in turn produces effective learning and teaching and therefore more effective teachers.

2.6 School-based providers work very closely with their local partnership. The relationship between the provider and schools is good, with ex-trainees populating the schools. The schools, in turn, offer back very good applicants for future training. The schools have a direct involvement in the selection of future trainees and subsequently in their training and employment. Schools within partnership have real ownership of the process and outcomes. The small scale of many school-based providers allows for better involvement, communication and ownership.

2.7 There is a strong argument to suggest the more mature applicant has a great deal to offer the profession and approaches learning with a more mature mindset. School-based provision tends to attract older trainees. This would show that those with experience of previous careers have an attraction to work environment-based training, even if they are not able to gain a place on the employment-based route.

3. Will the Governments proposed changes to initial teacher training help to recruit these trainees?

3.1 The increasing analysis of the effectiveness of school-based recruitment processes suggests recruiting trainees is as much an art as it is a science.

3.2 The experience of this organisation suggests that professional judgements, made following a comprehensive process investigating attitudes, knowledge (and most importantly) the potential to acquire skills, lead to the most effective outcomes. The alignment of that professional judgement to that used by senior school management experienced in recruiting school staff is of paramount importance, especially in drawing out key attitudes which signpost potential success.

3.3 In our view the proposed changes to ITT recruitment do not sufficiently support the identification of these attitudes.

3.4 There is concern that in placing the emphasis on the quality of degree classification (and particularly those with high honours) applicants might be more attracted to securing higher levels of academic achievement, such as would be recognised at a later time in other professional contexts, more than developing the skills that relate to effective classroom practice. Whilst we are totally committed to the view that postgraduate trainees should undertake sound academic development, particularly in relation to individual subject knowledge and the pedagogy of its delivery, we are not convinced that an emphasis on academic assignments (and particularly the demonstration through these of masters level criteria) should detract from carefully structured experiential learning in the school context. That is not to say that we devalue masters level criteria as important aspirations for the profession, simply that the principal focus of the training year should be the acquisition of the skills of delivery. In the absence of a study which quantifies the effectiveness of postgraduate level academic work before, with or after practical experience, there is anecdotal evidence amongst member providers that the emphasis on acquiring masters level units through a postgraduate certificate has diminished the time given to, and the quality of, trainees’ outcomes in classroom practice.

3.5 There is a further concern that the DfE has chosen to allow Qualified Teacher Status to remain a status, rather than upgrading it to a qualification. Applicants will be attracted, especially in the new fee environment, to choose courses that lead to a recognised qualification. PGCE is a university based qualification recognised internationally. QTS as a status is only recognised fully in England. Applicants would prefer an internationally recognised qualification. Therefore SCITTs (and some GTP) courses make partnerships with universities to validate their provision. This essentially enables the universities to promote their more academic style of training, which as the Green Paper rightly mentions is not always that which trainees find most effective. That is not to say that as school based providers we do not endorse the necessity of secure academic underpinning and pedagogy in the education of teachers. However, in our view QTS should be made a qualification, the confusion over postgraduate and professional graduate certificates should be cleared up and the monopoly that universities hold over teacher training qualifications be removed. The flexibility of school-based providers to provide programmes aimed at individual needs is compromised by the fact that in order to give their trainees a qualification they must be constrained by the requirements of university validation.

4. What evidence is available about the type of training which produces the most effective teachers?

4.1 The evidence submitted in para 1.7 demonstrates school based training has a very good record of producing the most effective teachers.

4.2 Further evidence was submitted in paras 1.9 and 2.2.

4.3 The best training must also be responsive to the progress or otherwise of its ex-trainees over time. With small, local, school-based training, follow-up studies can produce a source of very rich improvement information which when coupled with the informal feedback within the partnership and when acted upon by the partnership and provider, leads to the most effective training and in turn most effective teachers.

4.4 Research case studies suggest that it is proven that teachers who have extensive training in schools have a higher retention rate than those who area trained on more traditional routes. (Fleener 1999) and that there is a considerable positive impact on the rate of beginning teachers who leave the profession (Macdonald 1999).

5. Will the Governments proposed changes to initial teacher training, particularly the focus on school led training help to increase the number of good teachers in our schools?

5.1 We naturally welcome the emphasis on training in schools building on the success of both the SCITT and GTP routes. In our view, much of this success derives from the school-based style of governance and management, particularly because in this environment a clear management focus on learning and teaching, meeting individual needs and measuring and monitoring progress against challenging targets have become second nature.However, whilst school-based providers can develop and change relatively quickly, proportional increases in numbers can be significant, and their initial small size is both a strength and limitation in the process of change. Care must be taken not to weaken obvious strengths during the period of change.

5.2 There is a clear need to ensure that quality assurance procedures are rigorous and sufficient. The present school based model is led, organised and managed not by the schools themselves but by the SCITT or EBITT management teams who sit at an appropriate distance from individual schools. Whilst individual school members may sit on management committees they do not have the same responsibility or accountability for QA as the Training/Programme managers. The main focus of individual schools is pupil progress and teacher development. Whilst the new model suggest that ITT could come under the latter heading the demands of working with a diverse range of trainees in addition to pupils and established members of staff could lead to school senior management teams over stretched. In a worst case scenario QA processes may be less rigorous. Some clarification of the mechanisms that will ensure that the existing expertise and experience that underpins the present quality of school based programmes will be able to support and inform any new model is urgently required.

5.3 The present infrastructure has demonstrated a growing capacity for continuous improvement and development and is producing trainees who have the potential to be excellent practitioners, signalled by the number of trainees identified as outstanding in relation to the Ofsted criteria.

5.4 The proposals to include SCITTS in the fee regime operated by universities is understood, but would lead to significant reductions in current funding levels, which we would fear would be to the detriment of quality provision. Most SCITTs will be forced to charge fees of £9,000. There is concern that given the higher profile of university courses, trainees (and particularly their parents) will feel drawn towards well known established institutions when making such significant investment. We are also concerned about the effectiveness of attempts at centralised market management (ie through allocations) when direct government grants have been eliminated. It is not proven that the bursary regime proposed will prevent places being offered to individuals who are prepared to forgo the bursary.

5.5 The proposal to remove supernumerary status from the Graduate Teacher Programme would be felt to undo many of the advances in quality achieved on this route in the recent past. Similarly a reduction in salary grant would in our experience make it much more challenging to recruit the right schools (ie secure and experienced training environments) onto this route.

5.6 The five to 10 year strategy that will enable schools to take on responsibility for recruitment and training will need to be supported by a sufficient resource base both in terms of funding and personnel if the model is to be sustainable.

6. What is the best way to assess and reward good teachers? Are the revised standards a helpful tool?

6.1 At a first reading the new standards seem to enshrine a clear, comprehensive yet concise exposition of the craft of teaching and its associated responsibilities, but closer scrutiny reveals that they are not, in their present form, fit for the purpose of assessing whether a trainee teacher should be awarded Qualified Teacher Status. Clear guidance is needed about how standards are to be demonstrated at particular milestones of a career path. Differentiation should then be by the degree of support and the breadth of context encompassed within the achievement. This might range from meeting key standards in a limited context (Q) through meeting standards required by the employment context with the support of an experienced colleague (C) meeting all standards required by the context consistently to a high standard without support (P) to meeting all standards at a level which enables support to be given to others (E and A).

7. What contribution does professional development make to the retention of good teachers?

7.1 “Initial teacher education—although it is necessary and important that it should be of high quality-cannot by itself be expected to prepare entirely teachers in meeting the rapid changes that are undergoing schools”.1

7.2 “….you can train someone brilliantly but if they go into an environment that is not receptive to their skills what will be their skill level after three years?”2

7.3 “the professional development of teachers is a lifelong process which begins with the initial preparation that teachers receive and continues to retirement”.3

7.4 NASBTT takes the view that QTS is the beginning of the process and that we seek, as a nation, intelligent, questioning, learning teachers. Furthermore, qualities and routes within teaching develop over time with experience and further learning. Headteachers will often talk of their schools needing a balanced staff which can work at different levels and offer different skills—a school with too many NQTs or imminent retirees, has a problem. Professional development turns a static job, where the skills base is basically limited what is known up to QTS, into a full career with job satisfaction, challenges and routes to overcome them and invigorating career paths which require new skills and understandings.

7.5 Research outcomes reinforce that School based providers have a wide variety of ways of engaging school based partners in ITT and school based training. Evaluation and feedback data provides evidence of the impact of these ways of working on teachers own professional development.4

8. How can we ensure that good teachers are retained where they are most needed, particularly in schools with challenging circumstances?

8.1 NASBTT considers that the following points would support recruitment and retention of good teachers in such schools:

Extra support for training new teachers in these schools, ie recognising the difficult and different demands of training in these conditions.

Government, media and Ofsted recognition of the wide vision for excellence in schools in challenging circumstances. It is difficult to let go of the same ambition as for those in more salubrious settings, but perhaps we do not service to the schools in challenging circumstances by assuming they are just the poor relations of the higher achieving schools.

Good leadership and vision in the schools.

Good professional development and support.

Good community involvement and support—an element that should be build into the training.

Ability and willingness to identify articulate and work to overcome the precursors to good achievement in such schools.

Offer specific training and support for teacher trainers working in these schools.

Reference

i Musset, P (2010). Initial teacher training and continuing Training Polices in a Comparative Perspective. OCED Working Papers No 48, OCED Publishing, pg39.

1 Musset, P. (2010) Initial teacher training and continuing Training Polices in a Comparative Perspective. OCED Working Papers No 48, OCED Publishing, pg39.

2 Behaviour and discipline in Schools inquiry 2011 para 77.

3 (pg8) Villegas Reimes, 2003.

4 Musset, P. (2010) Initial teacher training and continuing Training Polices in a Comparative Perspective. OCED Working Papers No 48, OCED Publishing, pg 9, 3.3.1.

Prepared 30th April 2012