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Written Statement - Response to the Review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in Wales

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The Review of Initial Teacher Training in Wales Report, a Written Statement and response to the report recommendations has been published.
Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

As part of the Schools Implementation Plan published in October 2012, the Welsh Government set out its intention to undertake a review of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) in Wales. Professor Ralph Tabberer was commissioned to undertake the review and to report on the quality and consistency of ITT provision across Wales and to make recommendations where necessary to support improvement.  

Professor Tabberer has today published his review report and this statement focuses on his findings and my expectations of the work that will be needed to help bring ITT in Wales up to a benchmark standard, equivalent to the best teacher training available internationally.  

Rightly so, the overarching focus of the review settled on those areas most important for raising the standard, quality and consistency of teaching, training and assessment in ITT across Wales; the course structure and coverage of specific topics in ITT and on gathering evidence of strong strategic leadership across the ITT sector.  

In conducting this review, Professor Tabberer has engaged widely with the ITT sector, including key stakeholders and the current providers of ITT. To supplement this work, a small independent research project sought the views of school mentors and recently qualified teachers

As part of the Review work a summary assessment of where ITT in Wales stands in relation to international benchmarks with countries like Finland and Singapore was undertaken and a copy of this analysis is being published alongside the review report and my response to the report’s recommendations.

I welcome the review report’s conclusions. They are candid and to the point. The report paints a mixed picture - whilst the regulatory framework which governs ITT is sound and some good practice has been evidenced, it is also very clear from recent Estyn inspection reports that there is significant room for improvement, particularly at a strategic leadership level across the ITT sector.  The report findings issue a stark warning that ITT provision in Wales will need to do better if we want to become a world leader in teacher training.  

In Wales we need an ITT sector fit for purpose and ready to support the wider reforms in education being implemented in schools and the education sector as a whole in order to improve learner outcomes on all levels. We need to ensure that ITT is aligned to the wider Practising Teacher Standards, that it supports the delivery of the Masters in Educational Practice and reflects the principles of Practice Review and Development, the current school improvement and effectiveness measures in place and the wider reform of Education Services planned for Wales.

All ITT providers and key stakeholders must step-up to the mark to raise standards by improving the quality of provision and leadership in ITT, and provide clear direction whether ITT is delivered through university-based provision, employment-based teacher training in schools, or through flexible distance learning.  

We are producing some very good teachers, and there is no doubt that there are examples of very good practice within the ITT sector. However, the reconfigured ITT Centres which resulted from a review of ITT which reported in 2006 are not showing clear signs that they are working together effectively, collaboratively, on an all-Wales strategic level to make provision even better and to raise the standard and quality of ITT across Wales. We need to  bring a level of consistency to provision for all ITT students in Wales wherever they are being trained.  

You will see that the recommendations are far ranging and require input from all stakeholders to bring about improvement. Crucial to the success of the reforms and to bring about change is the appointment of a senior expert adviser on ITT to lead on these reforms, to help build capacity and ensure that the ITT sector in Wales works together to meet the challenges ahead.

The Adviser, once appointed, will work directly with the ITT Centres, the Open University and employment-based teacher training providers and their partnership schools at a senior level to effect change, to form a link between policy makers and the sector, to share best practice and to draw senior leaders within each ITT Centre and their university Vice Chancellors together to share a common goal, a common understanding of what needs to be done to raise and maintain standards, and how to turn this understanding into action.  

The adviser will be expected to work closely with HEFCW and Estyn to implement those recommendations specifically directed at them to ensure they work collaboratively with the sector to raise standards. Particularly, at critical times during and immediately following the statutory formal inspection of ITT provision  where the outcome may be deemed adequate to take action to make improvements , but also during routine monitoring arrangements and on the re-inspection arrangements that follow.

I will consult formally on proposals to amend the statutory Criteria for Accreditation which will require ITT providers to be re-accredited on a regular basis to ensure that standards are consistent and maintained, rather than the current arrangement which allows for continuous accreditation unless non-compliance provisions are triggered, and performance is significantly below expectations following inspection.

We propose to strengthen the arrangements which enable HEFCW to withdraw accreditation where performance is deemed to be inadequate and to reallocate ITT numbers should performance at any one ITT Centre fail.   I will also consider allocating greater intake numbers to alternative school-based teacher training routes if required and if improvements are not forthcoming.  

The report supports the introduction of Training Schools and I will wish to consider in more detail how this recommendation might be implemented in the future. The Hill Review of education services in Wales commented specifically on aspects of school based ITT provision and I will want to look carefully at how effectively existing programmes of employment-based ITT are operating before making decisions. All good schools will be encouraged to share responsibility with the ITT providers for preparing new teachers well.

To conclude, I expect and want to see results quickly. One of the keys to improving the educational attainment of children and young people is that we train teachers to the highest standards.  ITT Centres need to grasp this opportunity to work collectively to share and endorse best practice and develop a consistent approach on all levels of delivery so that we can succeed in making Wales one of the top countries in which to train to teach.

A copy of the review report, my response to the recommendations (Annex A) and a summary analysis of ITT in Wales in relation to international quality benchmarks (Annex B) are attached.