Teacher training providers ‘anxious’ that some trainees won’t get chance to qualify because of a lack of DfE guidance.

Teacher training providers say the need to reinvent assessment and recruitment schemes at “extremely short notice” because of the coronavirus crisis is causing them “significant anxiety”.

Trainers are coming under “significant pressure” from students seeking clarity about their prospects following school closures, while recreating recruitment processes is proving to be “extremely complex and time-consuming”, according to the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (Nasbtt).

The government has said trainees on track to meet the teachers’ standards by the end of their course should be recommended for qualified teacher status (QTS), even if they are unable to finish their school placements.

But Emma Hollis, Nasbtt executive director, said initial teacher training (ITT) providers were struggling with a lack of formal guidance about how to manage “weaker” trainees who were at risk of failing their placements at the time school closures were imposed.

How coronavirus has hit teacher training

“Assessment processes are…having to be reinvented at extremely short notice and there is a lot of anxiety across the sector about getting this right and making it fair,” she said.

“Additionally, without formal guidance yet being published on how to manage those trainees who are not on a trajectory to meet the teachers’ standards, providers are coming under significant pressure from those weaker trainees who are either on a cause for concern or at risk of being placed on one as they do not have answers to their (understandable) questions about what will happen to them.”

The DfE published new guidance for ITT providers today, stating that trainees “must continue to participate in their course to its end in order to be recommended for QTS”.

However, it gave no further indication as to how providers should advise students who are not on track to meet the teachers’ standards.

Ms Hollis said: “That is the bit that is causing the most anxiety.

“I’ve heard cases of trainees saying: ‘Well, should I just stop? Should I defer? What am I going to do?’

“It is a real shame for them, because whereas they would have had summer term to maybe make the progress, they now don’t know whether they are going to be awarded QTS ready for September.

“And it may be that that’s quite right – it may be that they shouldn’t be awarded QTS – but there will be those who could have turned a corner, and they are quite rightly very worried. Providers are worried about how to support them, and be as fair as possible to them.”

She said it is “absolutely crucial” now for providers to have clarity about what will happen to trainees who are not on track to pass.

“We do still have to be mindful of them, because they are people that could be lost to the profession if we don’t get it right,” she added.

Ms Hollis said providers are also having to be “innovative” with their recruitment processes, as normal measures such as observing applicants’ interactions with children “cannot be incorporated during this unusual time”.

She added that recreating these processes at “extremely short notice” has proven to be “extremely complex and time-consuming” for providers.

Last week universities urged Ofsted to delay the introduction of its new teacher training inspections by at least a year in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The Department for Education referred providers to existing guidance on teacher training.

Coronavirus: Trainees could be lost to the profession

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