This story by Helen Ward in the TES on 26th June 2018

Something not “quite right” about system that passes overwhelming majority of 20,000 NQTs, says senior official

Just 13 newly-qualified teachers out of 20,000 failed their induction year last year, a conference in London heard today.

Gareth Conyard, deputy director of teacher workforce development at the Department for Education, told the Westminster Education Forum that the numbers revealed something did not feel “quite right” about the system that signs off NQTs.

Newly-qualified teachers must complete an induction year, which comes after they have finished their initial training and gaining qualified teacher status, to be allowed to teach as a qualified teacher in a maintained school. This year is signed off by an “appropriate body”, such as a local authority.

But Mr Conyard explained that “significant variations” had been found between the way the process was handled and wanted to make it more consistent.

And he said that some schools felt the involvement of an appropriate body was a “rubber stamp exercise” while others found it was much more structured and supportive.

“We are not interested in coming up with something that is robust for the sake of preventing people from passing induction,” he said.

“This is about support and development and, frankly, it’s not in our interests to create a system where people don’t progress on to become classroom teachers. But it is worth pointing out that right now, our system doesn’t seem that the balance is quite right.

“So think of 20,000 odd people who went through their NQT year last year, something like 13 were failed as a result of the appropriate body process. That doesn’t feel it is achieving quite what we want it to achieve. It’s not about increasing the numbers of people who aren’t passing. But there is something there that doesn’t feel quite right.”

He said that making the process more consistent and supportive may include encouraging new providers into the system.

In its response to a consultation on strengthening QTS and improving career progression for teachers, published in May, the government said that an accreditation process would be introduced for appropriate bodies. It would look into widening the type of organisations which could become appropriate bodies.

Currently, appropriate bodies can be local authorities, a teaching school, the national induction panel for teachers or the independent schools teacher induction panel.

Mr Conyard said today: “We want to look at that process and see what we can do to make it more consistent and ultimately make it more supportive and that may include encouraging new providers into the system to act as appropriate bodies. Some people have talked about universities playing that role and that is something we are looking at.”

The induction year is assessed by staff in the school, but an appropriate body must be agreed in advance which is responsible for checking that the school provides adequate support and is responsible for making the final decision on whether the NQT has met the required standard – drawing on the recommendation of the headteacher.

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