Dear Colleague,

I am writing to thank you for your work in supporting Initial Teacher Training (ITT) during the last few months of change and uncertainty. I know that many of you have made tremendous efforts to continue to deliver courses to your current trainees, introducing remote learning and assessments very quickly to support them in completion of their courses. Thanks to these initiatives we expect the majority of trainees to be assessed as on a trajectory to meet the teachers’ standards, and to enter the teaching profession in September. We have recently announced course extension funding for trainees, and their school or training institution, whose courses were disrupted by COVID-19, and who are not awarded QTS in summer 2020 as a result. It will be important that you prioritise this activity and continue to provide the high-quality support you have been delivering to enable as many ITT2019 trainees as possible to successfully complete their course. For further information on the funding available please visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/funding-itt-coronavirus-covid-19-course-extensions-2019-to-2020/coronavirus-covid-19-itt-course-extensions-funding-manual-2019-to-2020-academic-year

I recognise that it has also been necessary to introduce changes to your recruitment approach, and your rapid shift to online recruitment processes has ensured that the recruitment position has improved as interest in teaching has grown in the last two months. We will again this year be offering the Summer Recruitment Service to support potential applicants during the summer using the Teacher Training Adviser (TTA) service. TTAs are experienced teachers who have an excellent track record in supporting applicants via the Get into Teaching Line, and will encourage candidates to apply to universities and schools that have confirmed with my officials that they are continuing to recruit in summer. The service has been well-received in recent years, and I encourage all universities and schools who are recruiting over the summer period to opt-in.

I would like to confirm our intention to proceed with introduction of the ITT Core Content Framework (CCF) from September 2020. I am grateful to institutions for all the work that they have done to prepare for implementation of the ITT Core Content Framework. Like you, I am committed to ensuring that ITT is of the highest quality possible. We know that quality teaching is the most important in-school factor in improving outcomes for all children, particularly those from a disadvantaged background, or for those with additional needs. A focus on quality-first teaching will be even more important now, to support schools to deal with the consequences of COVID-19.

DfE are therefore committed to ensuring that trainees and early career teachers get the best possible start to their careers. From September 2020 onwards, new trainee teachers will be entitled to at least three years of evidence based professional development and support, starting with ITT, based on the new ITT Core Content Framework, and followed by a new two-year induction from September 2021 supported by the Early Career Framework.

Ofsted are shortly due to publish their ITE inspection framework and handbook. We anticipate ITT inspections under their new framework to commence from January 2021. Ofsted’s inspection framework will include a transition statement for next year, which recognises that COVID-19 will have had an impact on universities’ and SCITTs’ plans to fully implement the CCF with partnership organisations and placement schools.

I am aware from conversations that my officials have had with ITT institutions that you remain absolutely committed to training high quality teachers, but we understand that you are having to redesign your courses to deal with the consequences of COVID-19. We are also aware of wide concerns about availability of school placements for next year, and my officials are working closely with sector representatives to develop solutions.

As part of our commitment to ensure you can use flexibility and creativity to deliver training to next year’s cohort, we have relaxed some of the ITT Criteria. We have removed the expectations that trainees train to teach in at least two schools, that they have met the standards across the full age and ability range of training, and that training programmes cover no fewer than four school years. While it might not be possible for some trainees to spend 120 days training in schools (160 for 4 year undergraduate courses), Criterion C2.3 is a programme design requirement, and providers will not be found non-compliant if trainees spend fewer than the typical amounts specified in school-based training.

Trainees should receive a course that is as complete as possible, and we ask that you only use the flexibilities permitted when necessary, in response to any further COVID-related disruption. The trajectory assessment approach will not apply to next year’s cohort, and you will be required to assess trainees as fully meeting the Teachers’ Standards.

In recognition of the fact that there is likely to be some disruption to delivery of ITT courses next training year, we are able to offer expert ITT associate support to ITT providers. This support is designed to assist you as you adapt your provision to take account of CCF implementation, and as you develop and deliver your courses in light of partner school placement pressures and ITT Criteria relaxations. As well as offering expert support, associates are well placed to identify excellent and innovative ITT provider practice. Accredited ITT providers wishing to access this support should, in the first instance, contact ITT.accreditation@education.gov.uk. While associate capacity is limited, we will endeavour to provide support for as many accredited ITT providers as possible.

I am very grateful for your continuing efforts in support of ITT in these challenging times.

Yours sincerely,

Nick Gibb MP

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