We are aware that events currently unfolding around the Coronavirus are causing considerable uncertainty within the sector.
Please be advised that we are working very closely with the DfE in relation to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in order to provide up-to-date advice and guidance for members.
You will appreciate that this is an ongoing conversation with government advice being updated daily and, therefore, we anticipate issuing a number of updates to the advice below over the coming days.
Please note we will continue to add to this page when we have updates.
- If YR, Y1 and Y6 return to school? Do trainees who have been based in these year groups return too? Or would it remain on a volunteer basis?
Following the recent government announcement, it is clear that primary schools must begin to plan for the possibility that they may need to accommodate additional pupils in a phased return from June 1st, or later depending on future government guidance. In the event that some schools do start to receive more pupils from June onwards, providers will need to give consideration to whether trainee teachers could and should return to schools during the Summer Term. There remains much uncertainty over the timing, practicalities and logistics of the phased return and we are acutely aware of the additional burden this will be placing on our members as you work towards making the best decisions to support your trainees and your partner schools.
NASBTT’s view is that individual providers are always best placed to decide on what is best for their cohorts, in consultation with their partner schools and with the trainees concerned. We would, however, advise that trainees should only go into schools if:
- this is on the basis of a voluntary agreement between the trainee and the school and is not considered a requirement of the training provider;
- all parties (provider, trainee and school) are in agreement and the provider has clear agreements with the trainee about any online or distance learning that they must be available to engage with and that any voluntary attendance in school should accommodate this;
- no individual trainee will be expected to go into school if they are unable or unwilling to do so, and that they will not be disadvantaged if they do choose not to go in;
- trainees who do attend school will be engaged in meaningful experiences;
- the health and safety of trainees and provider/school staff is protected following the most up to date guidance available from government; and
- trainees who are unable to volunteer in a school are not unduly disadvantaged in comparison to those that can.
This advice is subject to any future decisions or guidance from HM Government and the DfE.
Salaried trainees are employees and as such subject to the HR decisions of their employing school. Providers may need to consider how they can continue to offer a programme of distance learning which supports the contractual demands placed on the trainee. We would recommend close collaboration with employing schools in order to facilitate continued training and development for the trainee alongside their working responsibilities.
- Is a trainee still on programme if their school is closed?
A trainee can still be said to be ‘on programme’ even if they are unable to attend their placement school. We would recommend that trainees are offered alternative activities which will further their professional development, such as subject knowledge development, academic reading and research, access to online professional development modules, planning and assessment tasks, etc. Trainees may also have opportunities to support virtual learning platforms for their placement schools (see third point).
- Does school closures affect trainee funding?
A trainee can still be said to be ‘on programme’ even if they are unable to attend their placement school by continuing professional development, such as subject knowledge development, academic reading and research, access to online professional development modules, planning and assessment tasks, etc. Trainees may also have opportunities to support virtual learning platforms for their placement schools (see the following point).
As the trainee can be shown to be ‘on programme’, normal funding processes are not affected.
- Can virtual teaching be used as evidence?
We would advise that you use your professional judgment to make a decision on whether taking part in a school’s plans for virtual teaching provides your trainees with suitable evidence of progress towards the Teachers' standards. This will depend on what measures individual schools have put in place for their pupils and how this is being managed. It may also depend on how willing individual schools are to include trainee teachers in the planning and delivery of virtual lessons. Providing you have a compelling narrative to show that the experience is fully preparing your trainees to teach, you can organise your programme with a significant amount of discretion.
- Do my trainees still need to complete 120 days in school?
The ITT criteria does not specify a minimum number of days that trainees must spend training in schools. C2.3 is (intentionally) a programme design requirement as follows:
All accredited ITT providers must ensure:
that training programmes are designed to provide trainee teachers with sufficient time being trained in schools (see note 5), early years and/or further education settings to enable them to demonstrate that they have met all the standards for QTS. This means they would typically be structured to include at least the following periods of time to be spent in training in schools, early years or further education settings (see note 6):
- a four year undergraduate programme – 160 days (32 weeks)
- a one, two or three year undergraduate programme – 120 days (24 weeks)
- a secondary graduate (non-employment based) programme – 120 days (24 weeks)
- a primary graduate (non-employment based) programme – 120 days (24 weeks)
- employment-based programme – as determined by the training programme
A provider would not be found to be non-compliant if trainees were to complete their programme without having spent a specific number of days training in schools. The assumption would be that the programme design would not change as a result of an outbreak of Covid-19 limiting school-based training. However, providers would want to ensure that trainees are not put at risk of not achieving the Teachers’ standards as a result of insufficient time being afforded to them in school and/or centre-based training. This might mean that the provider would need to find alternative school-based provision and/or extend programmes for some trainees, particularly those on the pass/fail borderline. Trainees deemed to be meeting the Teachers' standards irrespective of the number of days they have spent training in schools can and should be recommended for the award of QTS. In such circumstances, we would reasonably expect providers to manage such an event through their partnership arrangements, and quality assurance processes.
- Cause for Concern Trainees
We are waiting for the formal guidance on how these trainees are to be managed and will update you through all our usual channels as soon as we can.
- Should I defer trainees who are not on a trajectory to be awarded QTS?
Providers should not automatically defer any trainees who are not on a trajectory to achieve QTS and, until the DfE issues further guidance, should continue to deliver training in the same way they are for all their trainees.
- Will trainees be graded this year?
There is no formal requirement for providers to grade trainees; this remains at the provider’s discretion. However, grading is being discouraged in the new ITE Inspection Framework so providers may wish to adapt their processes in readiness for this.
- What do we do with trainees who are career changers and have been called back to support the NHS?
We are seeking clarification on this.
- How do we recruit to programmes for September 2020?
The DfE have stated:
As everyone stays at home to ease the pressure on the NHS and help save lives, we encourage ITT providers to continue recruiting to ITT courses due to start in the next academic year. Providers should consider how they can adapt their normal
recruitment practices to abide by social distancing guidance. For example, providers should consider remote interviews and the removal of any classroom exercises. We will provide further advice and support on managing current trainees and
recruitment to new ITT courses in due course.
- What do we do with regards to applicants holding conditional offers whose university exams or graduation ceremonies are delayed?
We have flagged this issue with the DfE and they are considering their advice. We have specifically recommended that providers be allowed to register applicants on to programmes in this event providing the university can indicate that, all things being equal, they expect the degree to be awarded.
- What do we do when applicants cant access GCSE certificates from the exam boards due to them being closed
We are expecting publication of advice on this questions very soon.
We advising providers to continue to make offers conditional upon seeing the certificates and to reassure candidates that we are expecting advice which will mean their places on programmes are not jeopardised if there is a delay outside of their control.
- How can we support applicants who were sitting GCSE examinations this summer?
For those applicants who were sitting GCSE examinations this summer which have now been cancelled, please be advised that it is perfectly possible for providers to set their own equivalency tests (this is already within a provider’s remit). You could make arrangements for this now to ensure you have something in place if you so wish.
- GCSE Online Equivalencies
Birmingham City University (BCU) have developed an online GCSE equivalence option which is open to trainees applying to any provider. They are offering all three GCSE equivalencies.
An individual applicant, who is holding an offer at an ITE provider, will pay a one-off admin fee of £25 – irrespective of the number of equivalencies needed. They will then pay an additional fee of £75 for Maths, £75 for Science and £90 for English. This will give access to four areas of learning, which are run as online study sessions and which the candidate must engage with before taking the test. An applicant will have the opportunity for two tests – a first attempt and a resit. All of the tests will be marked by experienced GCSE Examiners and subject leads to provide assurance in regards consistency. The charges are designed to cover costs and support development only.
Full details of the service can be found here.
Equivalency testing co are also hoping to offer an on-line facility from the middle of May. The contact email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
- How GCSEs, AS & A levels will be awarded in summer 2020
Ofqual sets out details for schools, colleges, students, parents & carers on how GCSEs and A levels will be awarded following the cancellation of this year's exams.
Full guidance from Qfqual can be found here.
- What do we do with applicants who are unable to complete their degree due to Coronavirus?
This is under active consideration by the DfE. We anticipate they will want to ensure candidates are not disadvantaged by any delays to their degree being awarded but the details of how this will be achieved are yet to be announced.
- How do we complete DBS Checks?
DBS checks can now be carried out remotely.
See the guidance here:
Use a video link to see the required documents and ask for these to be scanned and sent to you by email.
Put a note in your Single Central Register to say you have done this and refer to the above guidance of 19 March 2020 in case the RI at your next inspection is not up-to-date.
See the original documents when the person presents for work after the crisis ends, again noting this in the Single Central Register.
- Obtaining certificates of good conduct from other countries
Should it not be possible to obtain information to confirm the professional ‘standing’ of a teacher, the school may be willing to accept alternative information that is provided in order they can determine suitability e.g. references/testimonials, criminal record information, self-declaration on professional standing. However, this would be a matter for discussion between the individual and the school.
Should it not be possible for the applicant to obtain information that would usually be required by a school, the school may consider that it is reasonable to decide the individual has taken all possible steps to secure the necessary information and that other information provided is sufficient to demonstrate suitability to be employed. However, this would be for the school to determine.
- Has the ITE Inspection Framework been paused or will this still be coming into affect September 2020?
Yes, at present this is still going ahead. If we hear otherwise, we will let members know. We are recommending to Ofsted in our consultation response that if schools remain closed for a significant period of time they should delay the commencement of the new inspection framework.
- What is the impact of school closures on Assessment Only
The DfE have confirmed that in the event of school closures, the 12-week AO limit can be ‘paused’ and restarted once schools opens again.
- Will there be any allowances for candidates on the AO route
This is likely to be left at the provider's discretion. If the provider feels there is sufficient evidence to recommend the individual for QTS, they should do so. There is no formal requirement for school placements as the minimum two years' school experience should have been completed prior to embarking on the AO route.
- Can we conduct AO assessments digitally?
With AO there is no formal requirement for you to carry out your assessments in a particular way so you can adjust your processes to manage this situation as best you can. Providing you are confident the individual has met the Teachers' standards through that final assessment process, you can recommend the individual for QTS.
- Does the government guidance cover EYITT?
This has been our assumption and it has been raised with the DfE; we will seek official confirmation.
Information Source - UCAS
Changes to Decline By Default (DBD) and Reject By Default (RBD) dates and updating vacancy statuses
Following recent developments around COVID-19 and the announcement of the closure of schools, we continue to work closely with the Department for Education (DfE) and have taken the decision to put the rolling UCAS Teacher Training and DfE Apply for Teacher Training decision-making deadlines on hold for four weeks. From today, all RBDs and DBDs will be paused until 20 April at the earliest – this means that during this time, no offers will be automatically declined, or applications automatically rejected.
Below are details of what this means for UCAS Teacher Training applicants, based on where they are in the application cycle.
Applicants with RBD/DBD dates between 23 March and 19 April
- You’ll have until 20 April to make decisions for these applicants.
- Applicants will have until 20 April to reply to offers they’ve received, if their DBD date is within this period.
- Track will show the extended dates for applicants, but this may take around seven days to update. We’re also telling them about this change by email, so they have the information straightaway.
Applicants who have RBD dates after 19 April
- You’ll have an extra four weeks to make decisions for these applicants.
- The RBD dates will be updated in Track and web-link.
- We will email these applicants, telling them to check Track to see the new RBD date.
- The DfE will email applicants who have applied through their new Apply service, to tell them about the changes.
Applicants who apply between 23 March and 19 April
- The 40-day RBD timeframe will start from 20 April, so you’ll need to make decisions for these applicants by 15 June.
- Track will show the updated date for applicants.
If it’s necessary for us to extend these dates further, we’ll email you to let you know.
- If a NQT misses 30 days or more of their statutory induction due to absences caused by COVID-19, will their induction be automatically extended to account for these absences?
No. We want to reduce disruption caused by the current COVID-19 public health emergency on NQT induction. Subject to parliamentary agreement, we are planning to make regulatory changes to mitigate this. Whilst the length of the induction period should ordinarily be 3 full terms and any absences totalling 30 days or more usually automatically extends this, we plan to change the secondary legislation so that any absence related to the current COVID-19 public health emergency (such as school closures, sickness or self-isolation), will not count towards this limit.
Absences that total 30 days or more, and not related to COVID-19, will continue to cause the induction period to be extended.
- Can NQT induction end now?
No - as many NQTs continue to work with schools in some form during this unprecedented period we would encourage induction to continue. Headteachers and appropriate bodies should then take into account the change which, subject to parliamentary agreement, we will introduce on absences related to COVID-19.
- What is the expectation of those NQTs who are still teaching?
We acknowledge that many NQTs are continuing to work in schools in some form despite many schools being closed. Where possible, we would encourage NQTs to continue with their professional development and maintain frequent contact with their induction tutor and/or mentor.
- What happens at the end of the induction period?
Headteachers and appropriate bodies should continue to make a decision on whether a NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards based on their performance throughout their induction. This decision is still to be made at the end of the induction period, which for most would be the end of the academic year regardless of their absence due to the current COVID-19 public health emergency. In line with regular reporting procedures, the Teaching Regulation Agency should be notified of the outcome of induction.
- How will the assessment process work?
Headteachers, induction tutors and appropriate bodies should continue to refer to the NQT induction statutory guidance about the assessment process. The final assessment meeting should remain at the end of the induction period for the majority of NQTs and evidence should continue to be collected if the NQT is still working in schools in some form. This process will be kept under review.
The Teaching Regulation Agency aims to follow existing schedules for collecting outcome data following the end of assessment. The Teaching Regulation Agency will work with appropriate bodies affected by COVID-19 to support them in their data returns.
- How do I know if a NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards if they have not been in school for the full 3 terms?
Headteachers and appropriate bodies should continue to make a decision on whether a NQT has met the Teachers’ Standards throughout the period of their induction, notwithstanding absences due to COVID-19. This may include looking at previous assessment records, discussions with the induction tutors and consideration of non-routine teaching practice during the COVID-19 disruption.
As stated in statutory guidance on NQT induction, the decision about whether a NQT’s performance against the relevant standards is satisfactory upon completion of induction should take into account the NQT’s work context. It must be made on the basis of what can reasonably be expected of an NQT by the end of their induction period within the framework set out by the standards.#
- What about NQTs who do not meet the Teachers’ Standards?
If at the end of the induction period there are concerns that a NQT, with absences related to COVID-19, has not achieved the standards, we would encourage appropriate bodies to exercise their discretion to recommend an extension, allowing the NQT further time and opportunity to demonstrate their ability to meet the standards.
Trailblazer group – COVID-19: Teacher Apprenticeship update
The following temporary amendment has been made to the assessment plan for our standard (in regard to apprentices due to undertake EPA before the end of the current academic year):
To help providers reduce the impact of COVID-19 on their initial teacher training (ITT) provision, alternative arrangements are being put in place for the lesson observation element of the EPA. These are extraordinary measures which we are taking so that trainees are given a fair opportunity to qualify and to safeguard teacher supply. The alternative arrangements only apply to apprentices whose EPA was due to take place before the end of the current academic year. We expect the discussion element of the EPA to go ahead as normal, virtually if necessary.
The lesson observation element of the EPA can be awarded based on assessment of observations during consideration of QTS award. Providers should document clearly how they have concluded that apprentice has passed the observation element (where possible this should be signed by the Head of the employing school) and keep it alongside other EPA documents for audit purposes.
The following link to the assessment plan has this information included in a banner: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/apprenticeship-standards/teacher/
- How should I organise external moderation in light of school closures?
C3.4 of the ITT criteria is flexible and does not mandate that external moderators see examples of trainees teaching. Although in normal circumstances this would be best practice. Providers may wish to involve their external moderator(s)at an early discussion stage so the process can be co-designed and remains robust. Involving external moderators at the early stages of decisions around trainees who are ‘on track’ and ‘not on track to meet’ may also help to mitigate against any potential future appeals. Where the external moderator has visited the provision before, this may help them in referring back to the accuracy of previous judgements.
We recognise that securing an external moderator in these times may be difficult, particularly as illness may affect plans already in place. We remind providers that we do have a small directory of member external moderators which can be found here. Members who are available for EM work but have not yet registered for the directory should contact Jhoskins@nasbtt.org.uk.