Education CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by the Institute of Education, University of London

The Institute of Education

The Institute is a college of the University of London that specialises in education and related areas of social science and professional practice. In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise two-thirds of the IOE’s research activity was judged to be internationally significant and over a third was judged to be “world leading”. The Institute was recognised by OFSTED in 2010 for its high quality initial teacher training programmes. Each year it prepares over 1,400 new teachers for primary, secondary and post-compulsory settings through the full range of PGCE and employment-based routes that are available to trainees. The IOE pioneered many aspects of teacher preparation that have subsequently become routine in national policy, including school-based teacher education, support for schools facing challenging circumstances, structured induction for new teachers and award-bearing early career professional development. It has the largest portfolio of education Masters programmes in the UK and an exceptional range of research degrees that teachers and school leaders take on a part-time basis.

The Evidence that is available to help Identify the sorts of Applicants who become the most Effective Teachers and Effective Strategies in attracting these Applicants

The best teachers will combine strong cognitive ability, good subject knowledge, excellent interpersonal skills and a commitment to and enjoyment of working with young people. The research evidence suggests that, other things being equal teachers with higher cognitive ability will be more effective in helping their pupils to progress.1 However, things are rarely equal and it is important to recognise that interpersonal skills can be as significant as IQ and subject knowledge in identifying candidates with the potential to become excellent teachers. Once selected, candidates then need to develop the practical skills and knowledge for teaching; having a strong IQ is no guarantee that a trainee will be able to successfully acquire these skills and dispositions.

We would also note that the measure that is used to assess candidates’ intellectual calibre in the majority of cases—degree classification—in fact offers a poor proxy. The research evidence regarding teacher effectiveness relates specifically to IQ, not degree class, and there is no evidence of a direct relationship between the two.2 Moreover, focusing on degree classification makes the assumption that learning stops at the age of 21: what about the candidate who goes on to obtain a Masters degree, in the process improving his/her subject knowledge and intellectual range? What about the candidate who gains extensive relevant workplace experience? While the Green Paper proposal to introduce a threshold based on degree classification (a second class degree or above) may have political or presentational value in terms of the positioning of teaching as a profession, the research evidence would caution against any “ratcheting up” of this approach. With these points in mind, the proposed addition of psychometric testing to the ITT recruitment process in England (something that the IOE has piloted) is a positive step. This is in line with practice in the best-performing school systems internationally, where trainees are selected on the basis of a varied set of criteria, including academic achievement, but also communication skills and motivation to teach. We should also remember that market positioning has a bearing on the quality of the applicants that it is possible to attract to teaching, as demonstrated by the historical variation across subjects in the proportion of trainees with first and upper-second class degrees.

Whether particular routes into teaching are more likely to attract High Quality Trainees, and whether the Government’s Proposed Changes to initial Teacher Training will help to recruit these Trainees

England has the widest choice of training routes for teachers, and this has been successful in addressing teacher shortages and attracting people to teaching from different backgrounds and as career changers. As regards effective strategies for attracting high calibre applicants to ITT, it is instructive to learn from the example of Teach First. Teach First has a strong presence on university campuses. The mission driven nature of Teach First and the wider career development opportunities the scheme offers—the notion that teaching can be just one part of an individual’s career—will also help to attract good quality applicants. For teacher training, the scheme offers prospective applicants, in partnership with university providers, a clear framework of initial preparation and ongoing support, as well as opportunities to take on further study as part of their early career professional development. Specifically, these trainees benefit from: the longest graduate programme of ITT there is available (14 months); relatively high levels of support throughout the training from tutors visiting them in their school on a fortnightly basis; strong peer support networks, akin to those available through the PGCE; and support beyond initial training in the form of funding towards a Masters qualification. The links that Teach First has to high quality ITT providers may also be significant. It might be argued that the involvement of prestigious universities in the delivery of ITT more generally can only help in raising the status of teaching as a profession, putting it on a par with those of medicine and law.

The Government has expanded the Teach First programme and is proposing to expand another employment-based route, the “Graduate Teacher Programme” (GTP). Training routes like this that provide a salary could be expected to appeal to prospective trainees, especially in the context of increased tuition fees. This will not always be the case: the PGCE, while largely school-based (PGCE trainees spend as much time in school as GTP trainees), offers a more gradual move into classroom teaching, which is important to some applicants.3 Nevertheless, it will be important not to introduce perverse incentives that push applicants towards salaried provision that is of poor quality and which fails to offer them the necessary support and development to become excellent teachers. Notable here is the Green Paper proposal to end the requirement that GTP trainees are supernumerary, the effect of which could be to lower the quality of the training and support that GTP trainees receive. Trainees who are not supernumerary have traditionally been given heavy teaching loads, leaving little time for the support and reflection that other trainees benefit from. There is no equivalent for this type of non-supernumerary training post in professions such as medicine and law: in what other profession would an unqualified practitioner have sole responsibility for the “client”? It is also already the case that employment-based ITT, where the training input is less than for other routes, fairs less well in OFSTED assessments than PGCE provision. The HMCI annual report for 2010 states that there was more outstanding ITT delivered by higher education-led partnerships than by school-centred ITT partnerships and employment-based routes (p. 59). The report also notes the greater capacity that university-led provision has to improve (p. 61). Particular concerns are raised in the report about the reduced opportunity that employment-based trainees have to improve their subject knowledge and the sometimes limited support that these trainees receive from their school mentors. The most attractive GTP routes ensure that trainees have protected time for study, reflection and experience in different schools, time that needs to be built into future funding models. Some of this GTP provision requires the trainee to complete a PGCE as part of the programme; it is not yet clear how these students would be treated in relation to student fees and access to bursary funding. In the context of higher tuition fees, intending teachers might also opt for undergraduate ITT rather than complete a Bachelors degree and a one-year postgraduate ITT programme. Again, this would be a decision driven by financial considerations, not quality of training.

On the issue of financial incentives, the difference between the level of bursary for candidates with different degree levels and for shortage and non-shortage subjects could be substantial, judging by the Green Paper. A candidate with a first class degree in mathematics would receive £20,000 to become a secondary school teacher, but only £9,000 to become a primary school teacher; a candidate with a lower-second degree would receive £11,000 and £4,000 respectively. The DfE and the Teaching Agency will need to monitor very carefully the impact that the proposed system of bursaries has on the recruitment of good primary candidates and candidates in non-shortage subjects: the quality of intake and supply to these areas of teaching, currently good, should not be taken for granted. The suggestion that bursary levels would be altered to reflect teacher shortages, possibly quite markedly and possibly as frequently as each year, is unlikely to assist with recruitment to ITT and teacher supply.

The Training that produces the most Effective Teachers and whether the Government’s Proposed Changes to ITT, particularly the Focus on more School-Led Training, will help to increase the number of Good Teachers in our Schools

The value of school-university partnerships in ITT

No other country in the world has training which is as school-based as England. The international evidence indicates that effective ITT depends on close relationships between universities and schools, that ITT is more beneficial for the trainee and more sustainable when both universities and schools are fully involved in delivering the training—from recruitment to graduation and, ideally, through to early career support.4 In particular, the involvement of universities is crucial for providing and promoting links to the research base.

There is a clear consensus in the research literature that teaching is more than a craft, that it is a complex activity which requires the deployment of a range of skills and knowledge.5 Schools provide a key location for learning these skills, but the principal concern of schools is and must be the learning of pupils. As with teaching, ITT should combine, iteratively, the subject and research expertise offered by universities and the practical experience and inspiration from colleagues that can be provided by schools. As the Government itself recognises, we need to learn from and benchmark ourselves against the best-performing systems internationally. In these countries teacher education involves significant input from universities (it is typically led by universities) and the development of higher-level knowledge and skills. In Finland, teaching is a Masters-based profession with comprehensive partnership between schools and universities. To make a comparison with a different profession: teaching hospitals are all linked to a university; one of their strengths is that they bring together research and practice. Medical students and doctors have the chance to see the relationship between the two and learn to understand the nature and importance of evidence. The ability to bring together research and practice is arguably the mark of a professional.

The proposals in the Green Paper that aim to strengthen partnership working between schools and universities in the delivery of ITT are consistent with what best practice tells us and are to be welcomed. This includes the recommendation that the inspection of university ITT provision focuses heavily on the quality of the relationships a university has with the various schools it works with to train teachers. The inspection of schools should also take schools’ ITT-related activity into account, especially in the context of the proposals to put in place a more school-led system. The encouragement and facilitation, within the schools White Paper and ITT Green Paper, of the sort of staffing structures that the best medical schools have, with a strong “teaching consultant” cadre is to be strongly welcomed.

Issues for Teacher Supply, Quality Assurance and Efficiency

Both the Green Paper and the Education Committee’s inquiry are largely focused on the matter of attracting the best possible candidates to teaching and developing them as highly effective teachers. While this aim is laudable—and we have discussed the importance of combining school and university expertise to that end—it cannot be pursued in isolation from the issues of teacher supply, quality and efficiency.

A possible outcome of the Government’s proposals on ITT will be to put in place a much larger number of relatively small centres of ITT. To date, teacher supply has been maintained through a manageable number of relatively large university providers (in some cases training over 1,400 teachers a year) and the capacity they have had to accommodate increased numbers in particular areas on a flexible basis. (The exception has been some coastal towns with little or no higher education provision). At the same time, the scale of provision within universities has enabled them to maintain strong teams across all subject areas, to facilitate relatively efficient quality assurance arrangements, and to offer economies of scale in delivery. This will be much more difficult to achieve if responsibility for ITT is distributed too widely to many more small centres of ITT and the system becomes too fractured. While there is no reason why schools or clusters of schools, commissioning input from external providers, cannot offer high quality training, such a system would be much more difficult to manage and much more costly. It could also erode capacity within the higher education sector to support ITT. The Government’s understandable wish for more active school engagement in ITT should be met by using levers such as funding and inspection to establish more equitable partnerships between schools and universities rather than the pursuit of a fully-devolved system for its own sake. We should not aspire to create a cottage industry of ITT.

There is a related point to make on the specific Green Paper proposal that trainees apply to a particular school rather than to a university, with the expectation that the school will offer employment after training. It is unlikely that schools will be able to predict where their staff shortages will be to facilitate such a system; the exception could be secondary schools with large departments in the core subjects, but even here the evidence would be that this is a risky assumption. Furthermore, the ITT system should be training teachers for the system as a whole, not for specific schools. However the training infrastructure is configured, trainees must continue to have access to placements in different and, ideally, contrasting schools. This enables trainees to learn from a range of practice and to challenge their expectations about, for example, pupil behaviour. It also helps them to develop as versatile teachers who feel confident about teaching in different schools.

Assessing and Rewarding good Teachers and the value of the Government’s Draft Revised Standards to this End

The revised standards are not markedly different from those that they replaced. However, they do focus on teaching (input) rather than pupil achievement (outputs). We need to remember that the purpose of teaching—the only purpose—is to promote learning. The importance of teaching is that it promotes learning, not that it is ever an end in itself.

The availability of standards and career routes that reward excellent teachers who want to stay in the classroom—principally Advanced Skills Teachers—has been enormously valuable. This scheme, or an equivalent, should be protected in the new standards framework and related career structures.

Continuing Professional Development and the Retention of Good Teachers

Evidence suggests that a third of teachers leave the profession within five years of qualifying. It may be that it is not the “wrong” teachers who leave prematurely but the “right” teachers who are not given enough support in their first few years in the profession.

Attracting and retaining higher quality entrants into the teaching profession must be a priority, but, certainly in the short-term, this represents only a small proportion of the teaching workforce. Removing the bottom 20% of entrants to teaching and replacing them with stronger candidates would have almost no impact on the teaching profession for 10 years. If we are serious about improving educational outcomes for young people this has to be through investment in existing teachers and their development. At present, however, CPD lacks coherence and focus. It continues to be characterised by a patchwork of provision by local authorities, universities and private (often very small scale) consultancies. The proportion of teacher time devoted to CPD in England is lower than in the best-performing school systems.6 The challenge we face in turning a profession in which only a small number of current practitioners have a Masters qualification into a Masters-level profession—aligned with the best in the world—is considerable. It is regrettable that the focus in policy documents continues to be on ITT.

In order to establish the world-class education system staffed by a high quality teaching workforce that the Government aspires to, we need to fundamentally re-think the career structure for teachers and build in an entitlement and an obligation to ongoing study—as is the case, for example, for medical practitioners. Teachers need clear career pathways related to continued training. Within the reforms to ITT it will be important to promote the training phase as the beginning of a continuum of provision of support and development. Prospective applicants and qualified teachers should feel that they will be supported to follow one of a number of pathways, be it to, for example, Advanced Skills Teacher status, senior leadership roles or specialisms in SEN/EAL.

Retaining Effective Teachers in the most Challenging Schools

Too few of the best teachers teach in the most challenging schools, and too many of those who do subsequently leave. The proposed incentives model is principally concerned with attracting entrants with good degrees. There is little or no incentive related to working in particular kinds of schools or to remaining in the teaching profession over a number of years. In particular, the indicative £20,000 bursary for a high-priority specialist teacher with a first class degree is very generous. A more prudent use of the money available would be to hold some of that back for payment of either a “golden hello” once the teacher has remained in teaching for an agreed period, or an additional increment on entry to his/her NQT year. That said, attracting the best teachers to the most challenging schools will not be achieved by salary-based solutions alone: access to support and career development are key. Alongside the work of Teach First in attracting highly qualified graduates into the classrooms of some of the country’s most challenging schools, consideration might be given to teacher education models deriving from the Chicago and Boston teacher residency scheme, which offer teachers in challenging schools continued access to high quality support.

A specific point on SEN teaching: specialist SEN ITT was discontinued in the 1980s because it produced teachers who were ghettoised in SEN teaching and because it tended to remove from other teachers the obligation to attend to the classroom-based needs of their SEN pupils. The best means of equipping teachers to work across the schools system is through universal ITT programmes coupled with opportunities to specialise through ongoing professional development.

November 2011

1 e.g. and much quoted: Sanders, W. and Rivers, J. (1996) Cumulative and Residual Effects of Teachers on Future Student Academic Achievement, University of Tennesse Value-Added Research and Assessment Centre.

2 The American research evidence suggests that nothing other than teacher IQ effectively predicts teacher quality. See Hanushek, E. A., Welsh, F. and Rivkin, S. (2006) “Teacher Quality” in E. A. Hanushek (ed.) Handbook of the Economics of Education, Vol 2, Stanford.

3 Freedman, S., Lipson, B. and Hargreaves, D., More Good Teachers, Policy Exchange, 2008.

4 Bills, L., Briggs, M., Browne, A., Gillespie, H., Gordon, J., Husbands, C., Phillips, E., Still, C. and Swatton, P. (2008) International Perspectives on Quality in Initial Teacher Education: An exploratory Review of Selected International Documentation on Statutory Requirements and Quality Assurance, in Research Evidence in Education Library, London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London; Furlong, F., Barton, L., Miles, S., Whiting, C. and Whitty, G. (2000) Teacher Education in Transition: re-forming professionalism?, Buckingham: Open University Press.

5 We would recommend Linda Darling-Hammond’s work on the format and content of the best ITT programmes as a key point of reference for the Committee for this inquiry – e.g. Darling-Hammond, L., et al (2008) Powerful Learning: What we know about teaching for understanding. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. See also: International Alliance of Leading Education Institutions (2008) Transforming Teacher Education: Redefined Professionals for 21st Century Schools, http://www.intlalliance.org/; Brown, S. and McIntyre, D. (1986) “How do teachers think about their craft?”, in Ben-Peretz, M., Bromme, R. and Halkes, R. eds., Advances of Research on Teacher Training, Lisse, ISATT and Swets and Zeitlinger BV; Calderhead, J. (1987) “The Development of Knowledge Structures in Learning to Teach” (pp.51-64) and McIntyre, D. (1987) “Designing a Teacher Education Curriculum from Research and Theory on Teacher Knowledge” (pp. 97-114), in Calderhead, J. ed., Teachers’ Professional Learning, Lewes: Falmer; McIntyre, D. (1994) “Classrooms as earning environments for student teacher”, in M. Wilkin and D. Sankey, eds., Collaboration and Transition in Initial Teacher Training, London: Kogan Page (pp. 81-97).

6 School Teachers Review Body (2007) Teachers’ Workload Diary Survey.

Prepared 30th April 2012