Opinion 21112018

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The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers

“The Voice of School-Based Teacher Training”
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 A new dawn for routes into teaching

This academic year is arguably the most critical yet in terms of addressing the issues facing schools on teacher recruitment and retention. The Department for Education’s response to the ‘Strengthening Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Improving Teacher Career Progression’ consultation in February set in motion a series of initiatives which should – if resourced and funded appropriately – make a huge difference to teachers in this country.

These initiatives I will come on to, but firstly I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at the Schools and Academies Show once again, this time in the ‘Leveraging the Apprenticeship Levy’ panel discussion. The announcement of the postgraduate teaching apprenticeship, which enables graduates to be employed as unqualified teachers while training, was one we welcomed in that it will be delivered in partnership between schools and accredited Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers and will be subject to the same regulatory framework as other ITT courses. That represents a good outcome from the perspective of the employer-led group which NASBTT was happy to be represented on.

So what do schools need to know about the apprenticeship levy? In education, as maintained schools come under local authority pay bills, they are all affected by the apprenticeship levy. Most multi-academy trusts are also affected. The levy can only be used to pay the cost of training, which varies according to the funding band set by the Institute for Apprenticeships, not to cover salary costs.Schools which are not eligible for the levy will receive government funding to cover 90% of the training costs. There are a number of existing apprenticeship options which schools might explore, including those for teaching assistants, accounting, business administration, IT support and cookery.

Now we have the postgraduate teaching apprenticeship too. The cost of training (i.e. the amount that will need to be drawn down from the levy) is up to £9,000 over at least 12 months. Unlike other apprenticeships, teacher apprentices must be employed on the unqualified pay scale (currently £17,208 outside of London and the fringe) until QTS is awarded – typically at the end of the third term – and on the main pay scale thereafter.Teacher apprentices are required to complete ‘off the job training’ for at least 20% of the time. They need to attend central training and, in order to meet the requirements of QTS spend a period of time (usually six weeks) in another school. They must be paid on a full-time basis, to include this time spent away from their employing school. For certain subjects, there is an additional salary grant available from the government.

Schools wishing to employ an apprentice teacher should contact their local ITT provider, either a School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) provider or Higher Education Institution to explore their options. NASBTT can also advise on levy funding, especially during the initial first year. We have partnered with the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) to launch the Association of Accredited Teacher Education Providers (AATEP), which acts as the professional body for teaching apprenticeships and is here to ensure that apprenticeship routes are assessed fairly and consistently. Apprentice teachers complete their end-point assessment after 12 months has been completed, after three terms gaining QTS, and it is this final stage that AATEP quality assures. We look at the processes used to assess apprenticeship routes, and evaluate whether the processes are the same across the country.

Now, on to the outcome of the QTS consultation. Perhaps the most critical initiative that schools need to be preparing for is the Early Career Framework (ECF) for new teachers, which we are involved in advising behind-the-scenes and is due to be published by Christmas. The ECF is essentially a longer period of support and guidance with clear entitlements (and entitlement is, I think, a key word) to professional development, access to mentoring and coaching and, potentially, reduced timetabling.

The content of the ECF will build on, and complement ITT, and will be designed to offer coherence on what teachers actually need in order to excel in the business of helping children to progress. It therefore gives us the ideal opportunity to rationalise what it is that we really want from ITT and what is more suitable for coverage later in their careers. For example, would now be an appropriate time to look at what is most needed in their initial year and streamline the over-crowded ITT curriculum?

The ECF will also need to strike that careful balance between ensuring a fair and equitable common entitlement for all teachers whilst giving enough scope for personalisation to prevent a generation of ‘cookie cutter’ teachers who are prevented from exploring their own interest and expertise. What works in one geographical area, indeed in one school, will often be different to what is needed in the school down the road.

Naturally, there is a direct link between the ECF and the government’s wider teacher recruitment and retention strategy, which is also something we are involved in. We can expect this discussion to focus on the evolution of the ITT market from where are now, what we can do to build capacity, and how we might reshape the market. The specifics around the search and apply stages of application to ITT and whether there is more we can do to support a seamless journey into ITT may also feature.

Finally, whilst most of the rhetoric is around in-school recruitment and retention, there has been no corresponding growth in professional development opportunities for those responsible for the education of teachers. There has never been a more important time for investment in SCITT and School Direct providers and, especially, teacher educators whose remit it is to provide schools with high-quality candidates. That is why we are proud to offer a suite of Teacher Educator Programmes to develop the knowledge and skills of those people working in schools who support and educate other teachers, including newly-appointed mentors, coaches, CPD co-ordinators, CPD facilitators and teaching school managers.

Emma Hollis is Executive Director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT)

This article was first published by MyAcademy on 21st November 2018.

Notes for editors
Emma Hollis is available for interview via Phil Smith, NASBTT PR Consultant
Telephone: 01778 218180
Mobile: 07866 436159
Email: phil@philsmithcommunications.co.uk
NASBTT contact details
Alison Hobson, Executive Officer
Address: The Priory Centre
63 Newnham Avenue
Bedford. MK41 9QJ
Telephone: 01933 627049
Mobile: 07925 805399
Email: office@nasbtt.org.uk