NASBTT: Eight Initial Teacher Training (ITT) priorities for 2020

Claire Harnden is a Trustee of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) and Director of Surrey South Farnham SCITT/Deputy CEO of South Farnham Educational Trust, outlines some key considerations for Teacher Training. 


ITT core curriculum content

We welcome publication of the ITT Core Content Framework which will give ITT providers and their partnerships time to adjust their programmes to meet the new requirements. The framework is intended to give trainee teachers an entitlement to intellectually robust teacher training that is flexible enough to be adapted to particular contexts, while also allowing a smooth transition into the Early Career Framework.

Early Career Framework

Specifically in terms of the Early Career Framework (ECF), we are working hard to ensure the delivery mechanism which is agreed is in ITT providers’ favour and does not overcomplicate the system – as part of this, we are pushing for a bigger role for providers in the ‘appropriate body’ sector. We do, however, feel that £350 million is not enough to cover the delivery of the ECF across the country and mentor training. We remain especially concerned that schools may not be able to fund effective mentoring.

Education Inspection Framework and Teacher Training

We are working closely with Ofsted on the development of the new inspection framework for Initial Teacher Education. We have already recommended that Ofsted should train individuals specifically to inspect ITT providers. We anticipate that subject knowledge, mentoring, SEND and behaviour will be key themes through the framework. Our view is it should value and measure those things which indicate high-quality provision and allow ITT providers the freedom to innovate.

Subject knowledge enhancement

Primary and secondary teachers are now required to demonstrate in-depth subject knowledge. In response, we have created and launched a Subject Knowledge and Curriculum Design Toolkit. We remain concerned, however, about the difficulty of training teachers ‘in depth’ in all subjects within the timeframe of teacher training. Our view is also that the development of in-depth subject knowledge cannot solely be the remit of ITT providers.

Mental health and wellbeing

The prominence and importance of mental health and wellbeing is growing in schools – both for pupils and staff. In order for teachers to best support the children in their care, looking out for their own wellbeing is of the utmost importance. We are working with the Royal Foundation on advice and guidance on mental health and wellbeing of children for all trainee teachers. We have also devised an Establishing a Counselling, Wellbeing and Mental Health First Aid Provision for Trainee Teachers workshops programme.

Teacher educator development

Teacher educators have a vital role in schools and we believe this should be valued and formally recognised. We have developed and delivered a range of Teacher Educator Programmes to support their continuous professional development and are now creating a learning space for teacher educators which will have an impact at home and abroad. We are also supporting the DfE in their development of a National Professional Qualification for teacher educators, drawing on our experience.

Changes to skills’ tests

Following the scrapping of professional skills’ tests, we are working with ITT providers to implement a new system of guidance on the fundamental English and mathematics proficiencies all teachers need. It is only right that providers are trusted to make professional judgements about the English and mathematics skills of prospective teachers – just as they do for subject knowledge, suitability to work with children and a range of other attributes.

Review of the ITT application process

A change to the process for applications to ITT places is underway, which NASBTT are supporting, and the outcome is likely to streamline the process. There is scope to simplify this for candidates and it is right and proper to do so – however, our view is that care must be taken not to undermine the ITT supply base.