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.
Last updated: 25th March 2020
Please note we will continue to add to this page when we have updates.
Frequently Asked Questions
We are currently working very closely with the DfE to develop further guidance for providers in the light of potential prolonged school closures and what this may mean for the award of QTS and programme requirements such as second school placements. These conversations are very fluid and the team at DfE must be led by the wider advice issued by the government. However, as soon as we do have further updates, we will ensure that the membership is made aware.
Our advice on this matter to government is that special considerations should be made in this highly unusual instance and that they empower providers to make sensible professional judgments about the award of QTS, even where this may result in typical processes (such as second school placements) being waived or adapted. We await the DfE’s response to these recommendations and will update the sector as soon as we have more news.
A trainee can still be said to be ‘on programme’ even of 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 following point). As the trainee can be shown to be ‘on programme’, normal funding processes are not affected.
We would advise that you must use your professional judgment to make a decision on whether taking part in a school’s plans for virtual teaching provides your trainee with suitable evidence of progress towards the Teaching 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.
The DfE have confirmed that in the event of school closures, the 12 week AO limit can be ‘paused’ and restarted once school opens again.
We are currently liaising with UCAS on this issue and are recommending that the RBD date is delayed in the event of widespread school closures/isolation requirements.
This is a matter under live discussion with the DfE. Providers may wish to start thinking about whether their IT infrastructure will support possible alternative recruitment processes such as video-link interviews. We will continue to update the sector as guidance from the DfE is updated.
We have flagged this issue with the DfE and they are considering their advice. We have specifically recommended that providers be allowed to register candidates onto the programme in this event, providing the University can indicate that, all things being equal, they expect the degree to be awarded.
The ITT criteria does not specify a minimum number of days that trainees must spend training in schools. ITT Criterion 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
So there would be no non-compliance if a trainee was 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 no trainees are put at risk of not achieving the 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 standards irrespective of the number of days they have spent training in schools can and should be recommended for the award. In such circumstances, we would reasonably expect providers to manage such an event through their partnership arrangements, and quality assurance processes.
For those with applicants due to start in September who were sitting their GCSEs this summer and now cant due to these being cancelled, please be advised that it is perfectly possible for providers to set their own equivalency tests (this is already within our remit) so you could make arrangements for this now to ensure you have something in place, if you so wish.
We are expecting there to be specific advice and guidance relating to Cause for Concern Trainees in the announcement from the DfE which we are still waiting on (14.15 19/03/2020). As soon as this comes out, we will share with the members.
In this unprecedented time for all of us, I am writing to reassure you that UCAS is taking a number of proactive measures to support you and your applicants, and we are looking to significantly enhance and extend flexibility within the admissions process.
We set up a cross-business coronavirus working group in early February, to identify and understand risks and issues relating to our services, review contingency planning, and coordinate communications and risk mitigation activities – this group is now meeting daily. Additionally, we are an active member of the Universities UK (UUK) coronavirus HE sector coordination group, and we are in constant dialogue with the Department for Education, Ofqual, JCQ, ASCL, the Scottish Government, SQA, the British Council, and awarding organisations, to effectively scenario plan.
We have well established contingency plans around delays in examinations and provision of results. These are being reviewed in conjunction with the UUK group and relevant stakeholders. This will help identify what additional steps we need to take, and the resources required to prepare for what could be significant changes to business operations and delivery, for both UK and international exam results.
For our customers, we are publishing the latest updates online in three main places:
- students – also linked to from the ucas.com homepage
- advisers – in the relevant section of ucas.com
- universities, colleges, and conservatoires – in an open-access area of the providers’ section of ucas.com
If there are significant changes to our business rules, as we expect, we will email you and your applicants, and also ensure these are reflected in our other communication channels, as soon as they are confirmed. Students’ mental health and the need to be mindful of everyone’s different personal circumstances is at the forefront of our planning.
Our upcoming higher education exhibitions, in March, have now been postponed, and we will confirm arrangements for other upcoming events shortly. We know open days and other recruitment events on campus are also being postponed; we are looking at how we can support providers to reach applicants during this time and will confirm what we’re able to offer in the coming days.
As I’m sure is the case in your own organisation, the health, safety, and wellbeing of our own employees is of paramount importance. We have moved to a skeleton staffing model at our Cheltenham office. We successfully adopted flexible home working practices two years ago, and the majority of our staff will now be working from home to keep our core services running.
I hope this provides you with reassurance that UCAS is as prepared as possible for any changes to the application cycle. We will keep you updated as the situation develops in the coming weeks and months.
DBS checks can now be carried out remotely. See the guidance here:
Use a video link to see the required docs and ask for the to be scanned 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 isn’t up-to-date. See the docs first hand when the person presents for work after the crisis ends, again noting that in the Single Central Register.
This has been our assumption and it has been raised but we will chase for official confirmation.
There is no formal requirement for providers to grade trainees. This remains at their discretion, although it is being discouraged in the new Inspection Framework so providers may wish to adapt their processes in readiness for this.
This is likely to be left at the providers’ discretion. If they feel there is sufficient evidence to recommend 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 an AO route.
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.