As the 2019-20 academic year draws to a close, I would once again like to personally thank each and every one of our members for all you have done to support your trainees during the extraordinary times we have been living in.
I cannot stress how proud I am, and how proud the NASBTT team are, of your amazing work and it has been incredible to hear the stories of ITT providers going above and beyond to support their trainees, or of trainees who are going that extra mile to support schools/children.
It has not been easy, and there is no doubt we still have a huge amount of uncertainty in front of us. However, as I am sure you would expect from NASBTT, as we move from a period of ‘emergency’ to (hopefully) a time of ‘emergence’, we have laid firm plans for 2020-21 in terms of events, CPD and other member support initiatives.
These include our Teacher Educator and Mentoring Zone (TEMZ), Teacher Educator Programmes (TEPs), subject-specific networking events and webinars, a comprehensive online CPD offering, NASBTT Learn, our new Curriculum Design and Assessment Toolkit, Occupational Health/Fitness to Teach guidance, and partnerships with Powerful Action Steps (PAS) and Vretta’s Elevate My Maths (EMM).
I also wanted to give you an insight on our ‘priority’ areas for the next academic year – the issues we will champion on your behalf, with the objective of driving change and development in the areas that we know matter most to you.
- Teacher training placements
In June we published our survey which found that from 247 responses 124 SCITT providers, School Direct Lead Schools and HEIs have reported that school partners had informed them they are unable to participate in training programmes in 2020-21. Subsequent surveys have found that this is an ongoing issue. We are currently working with the Department for Education on several approaches to give providers the confidence to continue to recruit despite these obvious uncertainties. Our focus will on be supporting ITT providers to develop flexible programmes and thus manage the threat of fewer school placements. For example, through paired/rolling/shared placements or by front-loading distance learning programmes and delaying placements until later in the year.
- Managing risk via collaboration
We will be reaching out to schools who work with ITT providers to directly capture the benefits and impact on school improvement. As above, the current landscape which has seen some schools withdrawing teacher training placements for the next academic year is a worrying development, and it would be disastrous to see a year in which applications are up but final numbers trained are down due to providers closing programmes early. Our objective is to bring schools who are not engaged in ITT with us. We will position trainees as an important, and effective part, of post-Covid recovery in schools. There is also an important differentiation to be made between them being seen as a trusted and valuable resource, who need nurture and support, rather than as a cheap ‘extra pair of hands’.
- Informing government policy
We are now trusted to provide regular data and insights to Ministers, their advisors and other key stakeholders which directly informs their policy direction. The recent ITT Inspection Framework is another good example. The transition statement is something we were driving for in our consultation response and we are very pleased to see that this has been incorporated into the new framework. Acknowledging the time it takes for a new curriculum to be embedded, and the unique circumstances in which we currently find ourselves, means that any providers who are inspected in this first year will be able to explore with inspectors their plans for an ambitious curriculum, whilst recognising that some very practical considerations may delay or make more complicated the implementation of those plans.
- Effective mentoring
We will continue to highlight the role of the mentor, its importance to the successful implementation of the Early Career Framework and ITT Core Framework, and the concerns we have around capacity and funding. Put simply, if mentoring is not given the higher profile it deserves then these bigger initiatives will fail. Our TEMZ is designed to support and recognise the role of a teacher educator as a professional and directly supports, develops and empowers mentors by providing guidance in key areas of mentoring. Our TEPs have shown that delegates value that the mentor role is taken seriously and seen for the crucial part it plays in the early development of trainee teachers.
- Subject knowledge enhancement
We are aiming to launch a series of online subject-specific networks for ITT providers, subject leads, mentors and trainee teachers to support the development of subject knowledge for trainee teachers in line with sector expectations. We will develop these in collaboration with the subject associations, starting with primary subject networks and expanding to secondary subjects as we build interest and capacity. Our initial discussions have already highlighted the benefits of sharing good practice on what should be included in the ITT year and building connections on practical issues. We aim to launch the networks in the Autumn term. We are also pleased to be speaking at an event led by the over-arching Council for Subject Associations on the development of a teacher resource bank.
- Mental health and wellbeing
We have already spoken about the importance of ‘compassion’ in the next academic year, as well as highlighting that what happens in the ITT year is so important for later years, and these two issues are even more important now. Supporting trainees with trauma and bereavement due to Covid-19, and helping them support the children they will be teaching, is going to be critical. We also need to champion the interests of NQTs without employment from September – we have already called for the National Tutoring Service to prioritise recruiting NQTs over other graduates, but more is required. Effective approaches to mental health need collaboration across the sector, and we will play a leading role in that.
- Tuition fees
Whilst applications to teacher training have increased this year, we are mindful that asking trainees (especially in primary) to go through an entire year without being paid a salary has a limiting effect on attracting candidates from disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds. In the interests of diversity, inclusivity and social mobility we feel there is a case for tuition cases to be paid centrally as teachers are, generally, public sector workers. The issue of tuition fees, as a policy position, is something that we are continually monitoring. Diversity and inclusivity will also be a core theme running through our wider activities in 2020-21.
I wish you all a peaceful summer break, and look forward to supporting you again next year.
National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT)