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University Alliance write letter to Schools Minister to raise concerns over ITT market review recommendations

University Alliance have written a letter to the Minister of State for School Standards, the Rt. Hon. Robin Walker MP, marking their concerns on the Department for Education’s proposed reforms as laid out in the Initial Teacher Training Market review, and encouraging ministers to delay reform proceedings until a more considered approach can be made. See the letter below:

Dear Minister Walker

Government’s Response to the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review Recommendations

I am writing to you on behalf of University Alliance members, all of whom play a significant role in the delivery of teacher training across the UK. We would like to reflect our significant concerns regarding the Initial Teacher Training Market Review and urge you to take immediate action, or risk irreversibly destabilising teacher recruitment and exacerbating teacher supply issues in this country.

We are already seeing worrying recruitment trends in teacher training across the UK, especially at secondary level. The implementation timetable for the proposed reforms for all parties concerned is unrealistic and together with worrying developments on the pandemic, with the emergence of the new variant, and the school system still in recovery from phase 1 and 2 of the pandemic, there is a real danger of ultimately breaking the system – a risk we highlighted in our original response to the recommendations.

Whilst we thank you and colleagues for allowing the sector an opportunity to share its views on the ITT Market Review recommendations, and acknowledge that these have been listened to and partly influenced the government’s final position, there are still some major concerns that remain and unless remedied will cause untold damage to our education system.

Furthermore, the assertion made that the autonomy of the sector has been ‘protected’ is not evidenced in the current system and indeed the proposed reforms, given the level of prescription still levelled at all elements of the teacher training journey and indeed the level of scrutiny and inspection that pervades initial teacher education.

In light of the pace at which government intends to implement the recommendations, for reference I have included a breakdown of the key recommendations, University Alliance’s original RAG assessment of the recommendations, our concerns as highlighted following the government’s response, a re-calibration of the RAG assessment following the Government’s response and potential remedy which I attach by way of an annex to this letter.

In summary our concerns centre on 3 key areas:

  1. The pace and high-risk stakes of the accreditation process leading to some providers pulling out of Initial Teacher Education completely and the impact of that on what is already a shortage of teachers being further increased;
  2. Significant capacity and resource issues in schools to implement the review’s recommendations regarding placements and mentor/lead mentor responsibilities;
  3. The loss of cutting-edge pedagogical and subject expertise, and the capacity to support the sector from universities at a local and national level.

We urge you therefore to pause with the accreditation timetable and engage meaningfully with the whole sector to set out a more realistic timeframe for accreditation, taking on board concerns around schools’ capacity to deliver placements and activate mentor/lead mentor responsibilities not least because we are deeply troubled by the (low) level of consultation responses from the school sector and urge you to seek full assurances that the school sector is aware and prepared for the changes afoot.

Yours sincerely

Vanessa Wilson

CEO, University Alliance

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