I am launching today a discussion about my strategy for initial teacher training. This document, “Training our next generation of outstanding teachers”, sets out my proposals for initial teacher training, providing detail of how we intend to meet the commitments made in the White Paper, “The Importance of Teaching”. The document is for discussion with training providers, teachers, trainees, head teachers, pupils, parents and the general public, before I announce final policy later in the year, ready for changes to begin to take effect from 2012-13 teacher training courses.
If we want every child to have the chance to take their full and equal share in citizenship and shape their own destiny, then we need to give them the best possible start in life, and this means the best possible education. This begins before school, and high-quality early years learning provides the foundation for everything that follows. I want to be sure that the teachers who build on this foundation are giving the children of this country an education that ranks with the best in the world.
We have some excellent teachers in this country, but many who could make a huge difference in the lives of children choose other professions. Our teachers are trained in some of the best institutions in the world, but the schools which employ these teachers do not get enough of a say in how they are trained, and training does not focus sharply on the techniques teachers most need, such as behaviour management and the effective teaching of reading. We value our teachers highly, but the current system of funding does not incentivise the best. The system needs to change.
The strategy sets out proposals to build on the strengths of the existing system, as well as addressing some important weaknesses. The proposals cover:
Giving schools, as prospective employers, a stronger influence over the recruitment and selection of trainees and the content of their training;
Permitting and encouraging schools, often working as groups of chains, to lead their own high-quality initial teacher training in partnership with a university;
Offering high-quality graduates and science and maths specialists significantly better financial incentives to train as teachers;
Offering financial incentives to all trainees with at least a 2.2 so that teacher training continues to be attractive, and offering incentives of up to £20,000 for the best trainees in priority subjects. From September 2012 the maximum charges for mainstream university-based ITT courses will be £6,000, or £9,000 where the university has agreement from the Office for Fair Access;
Continuing to subject ITT provision to quality controls that focus on the quality of placements and selection;
Requiring all trainees to have high standards of mathematics and English and excellent subject knowledge demonstrated through achieving a second class degree or above to qualify for any financial incentives.
Copies of the discussion document will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.