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A new poll conducted by TES has revealed that just 22% of teachers felt well prepared by their Initial Teacher Education to approach mental health and emotional wellbeing.

The poll looked into the quality of Initial Teacher Education (ITE) and spanned nearly 3,000 teachers and leaders.

Whilst strong levels of preparation were reported for pedagogy, professional behaviours and subject knowledge, only a quarter of those surveyed by TES felt they were well prepared by their Initial Teacher Education programme to approach pastoral work; with similar levels (37%) reported with regards to child development.

The polling results follow in the wake of data from Imperial College London, which indicates rates of depression and anxiety amongst young people have more than doubled throughout the pandemic. As pupils around the country continue to grapple with the impact of multiple lockdowns and school closures on their mental health and wellbeing, teachers and school staff are set to continue playing a vital role in supporting the most vulnerable and at-risk children.

Overall, respondents had a positive view of their ITE provision, with 72% rating their training as either ‘Excellent’ or Good’, and 70% being likely to recommend their provider to a friend.  The results echo similar findings in Teacher Tapp data collected in March 2021, which found that 81% of recently trained teachers rated their provider’s quality of teaching and learning highly, with 76% believing their education prepared them well overall for their first professional role.

Other findings pointed to a lack of awareness amongst the teaching profession with regards to the Department for Education’s controversial review of the ITE market. In total, 65% of respondents reported being unaware that the government was looking into changing the model of ITE provision, with this figure rising to 75% amongst trainee teachers. The review, which was resumed earlier this year having been paused due to the pandemic, has attracted widespread criticism for its initial failure to publicly consult with providers and call for evidence.

James Noble-Rogers, Executive Director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said: “At the core of teacher training sits a central commitment to learning and progression – not simply lessons taking place in classrooms and schools, but what we can learn as practitioners from each other. We must listen to our colleagues to ensure initial teacher education remains able to best meet the needs of the communities we serve, and stay fluid and agile in our approach. One of the profession’s pressing priorities in the new post-pandemic world is to address the mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people following this turbulent time, so it is vital we equip teachers with the tools they need to navigate increasingly complex challenges.

This data demonstrates that upheaval to the entire system of initial teacher education is not what is needed, particularly during these already turbulent times. What we should consider instead is the best way to ensure teacher education going forward prepares teachers from the start of their career to effectively and confidently handle pastoral issues, particularly in the immediate period post-pandemic.

It is only through open dialogue that meaningful feedback can be provided, which is why we welcome the DfE’s recent decision to respond to the sector’s concerns and put the ITE review out for public consultation – although they should have chosen to engage with the ITE sector throughout, as they are the ones who understand it best. We are hopeful that this new transparency prevails and that the DfE continues to engage with ITE providers prior to publication of proposals for consultation, even if that takes more time.”

Lord Jim Knight, Chief Education Adviser at TES & former minister of state for schools, said: “We welcome the government’s recent decision to put the ITE review out for public consultation. What our survey shows is that the current ITE provision is high quality and highly regarded by those who have experienced it, which begs the question as to why the government is looking to reform it. Surely it is more important right now to focus on the gaps in the provision for teachers coming into the profession post pandemic to assure they have right skills to deal with issues they will face daily, such as social and emotional development and their wider pastoral role.”

Dr Claire Ball-Smith, Director of Initial Teacher Training at the University of York, said: “It is my hope that the DfE’s ITE Review is listening carefully to experts in the field of teacher education, both in school and in university settings, who currently run a landscape of brilliant localised pedagogy in how to become an effective teacher. Those same experts know the landscape needs of their region and ground all of their pedagogic thinking very carefully in what will work best in that hinterland. Listening enables recognition. Conversation enables dialogue. Acceptance of what already works well allows teacher educators to continue to strive to attain for the good of our future teacher generations.”

Education Business – Teacher training needs more focus on mental health


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