University of Bristol School of Education statement
on the Initial Teacher Training Market Review
The University of Bristol has an outstanding PGCE programme, praised by Ofsted for the shared vision of quality training, the clear and consistent ethos of the partnership and for training which is ‘highly responsive’ to our student teachers’ needs, enabling them ‘to gain the confidence they need to make the most of their training’ (Ofsted 2018). These are elements of our PGCE programme which are potentially under threat if the proposals of the Expert Advisory Group’s ITT Market Review are implemented.
Our shared vision with partnership schools has been built up over many years and our partner schools are vital to co-construction of our curriculum. The ITT Market Review is proposing a new partnership model based on a three-tier structure of accredited provider, lead school and partnership school. This cuts across our current partnership model and would diminish the valuable contribution to our programme by all our partner schools.
The ITT Market Review proposes 4 weeks of intensive school placements, which are based on ‘highly focused practice’. This proposal is untested and insufficient evidence is given by the Expert Advisory Group to justify this disruption to our current placement model. Prescribing how we organise our placements and structure our programme does not allow for the responsiveness to student teachers’ needs which is a key feature of our PGCE. Furthermore, we contend that this model of teacher education is reductive and an oversimplification of a complex process.The success of our ITT course indicates that learning to teach is done well through engaging in the full act of teaching and then reflecting on what took place, with an experienced and subject-specific mentor.
With the level of prescription in the ITT Market Review in terms of the structure and content of the PGCE, and the optional status of the PGCE qualification itself, we believe that our student teachers would have fewer opportunities to become critical, reflective and innovative practitioners, who are able to effectively evaluate and use educational research. The proposals in the ITT Market Review would also reduce the flexibility of the PGCE partnership to tailor the programme to local needs and to respond to the latest research from the university or elsewhere.
We welcome the proposals to strengthen mentor training and mentor skills as set out in the ITT Market Review, however the review does not address issues of school capacity for additional mentor training nor how this would be funded. We fear that schools would simply opt out of ITT because of the increased demands on staff, particularly at a time when they have just started training new teachers through the Early Career Framework. This would constitute a major threat to teacher supply.
The School of Education has taken a full part in the consultation process, and we have shared our major concerns about the proposals. We call on the DFE and the Expert Advisory Group to halt the Market Review and to heed the many voices who are opposing the proposals. If the proposals were to go ahead as set out in the ITT Market Review at present, the School of Education would review its continued participation in initial teacher education.
Professor Tansy Jessop, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education, University of Bristol.
Professor Melissa Allen, Head of School of Education, University of Bristol.