DfE seeks to strengthen QTS and career progression

The government has launched a consultation seeking views on proposed changes to qualified teacher status (QTS), and on proposals for how to improve career progression for teachers

The government has launched a consultation seeking to strengthen QTS and improve career progression for teachers. Views are being sought on the following key areas:

  • how to support teachers at the beginning of their career;
  • how newly qualified teachers (NQTs) embed the skills and knowledge from their initial teacher training (ITT);
  • how to improve career progression for teachers, focusing on improving progression opportunities for all teachers throughout their careers.

Commenting on the government’s consultation Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the ASCL, said: “We welcome this consultation on strengthening QTS and the proposals for a renewed focus on high-quality professional development for existing teachers.

“We broadly agree with extending the period through which a teacher gains full QTS to two years. This approach, together with an enhanced support and development programme, can help to raise the status of teaching as a profession and encourage more people to become teachers.

“The consultation is right to identify that the development of teachers does not stop when they have obtained QTS, and having strong professional development throughout a teacher’s career is one of the measures needed to help retain teachers in the profession. But this must not be over-prescriptive as school leaders are in the best position to recognise the needs of their school and staff.

“These proposals – carefully managed and, most crucially, fully funded – have the potential to go some way to addressing the ongoing teacher recruitment and retention crisis. They can, however, only be part of the solution. Issues such as teacher and school leader workload, and the high-stakes nature of the accountability regime, must also be addressed, as part of an overarching strategy to ensure we have sufficient numbers of high-quality teachers to educate and inspire young people.”

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) said: “We welcome today’s proposals from Justine Greening MP on lengthening the time that it takes to fully qualify into the teaching profession. We will now consult with our 154 SCITT members, representing 88% of school-based ITT providers, on our response to the government consultation and will be encouraging our members to submit their views directly.

However, ‘strengthened’ QTS is not the right term. This implies that training is not strong, when actually 99% of teacher training providers are rated good or better. Whilst the proposals include a requirement for teachers to undertake two years of additional in-school training after completing their initial teacher training programme, we expect that schools will see funding as a stumbling block and will report this in the consultation.

Currently the issue is that professional development support is not routinely available to teachers in their second year and, whilst teachers in their first year (NQTs) are entitled to additional non-contact time to allow for further professional development, the type and quality of support provided is widely variable across schools.

In order for early career professional development to include a structured entitlement to CPD, there will need to be significant investment in order to support schools in its delivery. As part of this, we back the proposed ‘entitlement to support’ and are clear this should be given by accredited external providers – naturally we also welcome the specific idea of allowing ITT providers to act as the appropriate bodies responsible for overseeing the award of QTS.

Our preference is for teachers to still be awarded QTS at the end of the initial teacher training programme, but then gain ‘enhanced’ or ‘embedded’ QTS after a further period of professional development and support.

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The model should include scope for collaboration between schools, SCITTs and universities as equal partners in planning and delivering early career professional development to build on the excellent foundations already being achieved in the initial teacher training sector.

Through this consultation, we are seeking:

  • Recognition that access to high quality professional development for teaching staff, both in their early careers and throughout their working lives, should be an entitlement and not a lottery based on whether the school in which they happen to work values professional development.
  • Sufficient funding for schools to allow their staff the time they need to develop their knowledge and skills and become well-rounded, highly educated and respected professionals.
  • Support for the Chartered College of Teaching which is seeking to develop a Chartered Status for the profession and which needs continued support of government.
  • A commitment to allowing sufficient lead-in time for policy changes to avoid uncertainty and confusion within the system.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The National Education Union welcomes the Government’s announcement of plans to improve professional support for teachers. The focus on improved training, and on meeting both early and later career needs of teachers shows that members’ concerns have been heard by the Department. If the evidence shows that the Government are indeed dedicated to the provision of a core, structured early career framework supporting broader career progression, and to widening access to CPD and stronger mentoring, then we welcome their commitment to investing in the profession.

“Increasing demands on teachers make the need for training and support ever more acute. High quality support and training is an important part of the answer to the current teacher supply crisis.

“We share the government’s hope that these proposals can tackle these issues but of course the proof will be in the pudding; it will depend on whether the promised additional training during the first years is properly resourced and funded and is of high-quality, providing valuable skills, knowledge and understanding and adding value to the qualification. It will also depend on reducing teacher workload, and properly funding schools, so that teachers have the time to undertake professional development and follow the planned progression routes. It will also need a coherent accredited framework of high-quality provision.

“There is a lot of potential in this proposed initiative; we will work for our members so that this potential has the opportunity to be realised. The government has said that it is committed to learning from the profession; these proposals cannot succeed unless they continue to do so; whether it’s learning from the profession about what works and what doesn’t, what content should be included in the early career training framework and why teachers stay in or leave the profession.”

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