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InitialTeacher Training

Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2016

I am today publishing the reports of the three initial teacher training (ITT) expert groups which I commissioned last year, following a review of ITT carried out by Sir Andrew Carter OBE. Alongside these reports I am also publishing a Government response setting out how we intend to take forward the groups’ recommendations.

The review groups were tasked with developing a new framework of core content for ITT; behaviour management content for ITT; and a set of standards for school-based ITT mentors. The three groups were chaired by, respectively, Stephen Munday CBE, Tom Bennett, and the Teaching Schools Council (under the leadership of Vicki Beer CBE and, latterly, Dr Gary Holden).

Sir Andrew Carter’s report, published in January 2015, highlighted that the system in England is generally performing well, but that more needs to be done to ensure all trainee teachers receive a strong grounding in the basics of classroom management and subject knowledge development, as well as key areas of practice such as assessment and an increased understanding of pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). Sir Andrew also suggested that the quality of school-based ITT mentoring is not as good as it could be, and his report made a number of recommendations to both Government and the sector in this regard.

Good teachers are the single most important factor influencing pupils’ achievement in school. The Government are therefore committed to ensuring that the education system can recruit, train, develop and retain the best possible teachers in our schools. Key to this is to strengthen the quality and content of ITT programmes so that new teachers enter the classroom appropriately equipped in essential areas such as subject knowledge development and subject-specific pedagogy, practical behaviour management strategies, a sound understanding of SEND, and the ability to use the most up-to-date research on effective teaching practice.

The Government welcome the reports of the three expert groups as an important step towards realising our goals of further improving the quality of teacher training and raising the status of the teaching profession, while directly addressing the issues raised by the Carter review. Our recent White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, published in March 2016, set out plans to develop a new set of quality criteria that will in future be applied when training places are being allocated to providers. We will therefore consider how best the new framework of content can be used to inform those criteria, with a view to ensuring that all providers who are allocated training places are clearly demonstrating the quality of content in their courses. Further detail of how we intend to apply the new criteria to the allocation of ITT places from 2017/18 onwards will be published shortly.

Tom Bennett’s report sets out some clear recommendations for the teacher training sector on how behaviour management should be delivered within ITT. An abridged version of his full recommendations has formed part of the new framework of core content for ITT. It is clear from the report that providers of ITT should ensure that trainees are able to access high-quality training before they are ready to enter the classroom; this is a recommendation with which we strongly agree, and we would encourage all providers to ensure that their programmes are structured accordingly.

Linked to high-quality training programmes is the critical role that school-based mentors should play in supporting teacher trainees to develop into effective teachers. This is particularly true as we continue to drive the move towards more school-led teacher training, as set out in the White Paper. The Teaching Schools Council, led firstly by Vicki Beer CBE and subsequently by Dr Gary Holden, has developed a set of standards that I believe can help to bring consistency to the practice of mentors, raise the profile of the mentoring role in school-led training, and contribute to building a culture of coaching and mentoring within the teaching profession. All of these are crucial if our next generation of outstanding teachers is to have the greatest possible impact on improving standards of teaching and allowing our children to reach their full potential.

I am placing copies of the reports from Stephen Munday CBE, Tom Bennett and Dr Gary Holden, along with the Government’s response to their recommendations, in the Libraries of both Houses.