Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
On 23 June I delivered an oral statement in Plenary which set out how the Welsh Government would be transforming Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) in Wales following the publication of the report – Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers.
I have today seen a copy of Estyn’s inspection report on the outcome of the North and Mid Wales Centre for Teacher Education, which makes for very disappointing reading. Estyn has concluded that the Centre’s performance and prospects for improvement are unsatisfactory, identifying aspects of non-compliance against the statutory requirements for ITET accreditation.
The Centre has had some two years since shortcomings were first identified across the sector, to develop its provision to meet the requirements of the Estyn Inspection Framework and the underlying statutory requirements. This is frankly not good enough.
More needs to be done to accelerate the process of improvement in our provision of ITET across the whole of Wales if the sector is to act as a key driver to build workforce capacity. This is critical as we prepare for the new Curriculum for Wales and if they are to be able to contribute effectively to an education system built upon research informed pedagogy and leadership. We are under pressure from the school sector, the local authorities, Consortia and the public to improve our ITET provision – and rightly so. I have been clear from the start that I expect the sector to take responsibility for securing change and there has been significant improvement in some of our centres. But I cannot simply wait any longer to see a step change in provision nor tolerate poor experience for trainees in some areas.
Professor John Furlong is leading a Task and Finish Group to revise our current statutory criteria for accreditation and implement change so that the system is more robust and fit for purpose. The Accreditation Criteria Task and Finish group will consider key criteria including expanding the role of consortia and our schools in the delivery of ITET; the moderation and quality assurance arrangements in place; and the staffing requirements deemed appropriate to run high quality programmes of ITET.
I am meeting the Vice Chancellors in November, including those leading our current ITET providers, and will ensure that ITET and the improvements required are at the top of my agenda. I will be calling time on the current system of initial teacher education training in Wales with a clear view to 2018. Alongside the revised accreditation process we will develop and start to implement a focussed improvement plan designed and delivered in collaboration across the education system. I will be clear with the Vice Chancellors that participation in genuine collaboration for improvement will be a requirement for any institution who wishes to play a part in the initial training of teachers in Wales in the future. As part of that process we will host two strategic (summit) engagement events in December and January to engage with the sector and hear first hand from training providers who are delivering excellent ITET elsewhere in the UK to share best practice.
The new accreditation arrangements will apply to all courses of ITET which run from September 2018 and our existing ITET Centres will need to start to consider now how they will respond to this new more challenging approach.
We know it is possible to deliver radical change in a short timeframe – we have recently had positive news about the progress made by the South East Wales Centre for Teacher Education and Training and this is to be celebrated. But improvements cannot stop there; we must deliver something more systematic across Wales to have maximum impact for the wider education system.
We must build a more effective collaboration between the ITET Centres in Wales focussed on genuine collaboration to drive rapid improvement across the board. This collaboration must not be insular and has to form an authentic partnership which includes schools, local authorities and the education Consortia. It is essential that we learn about the best from elsewhere too and open ourselves to challenge so that we can be sure that ITET in Wales compares well against the very best elsewhere.
Let me be clear the landscape of ITET in Wales will be different. My message to providers is resolute. If you want to work with us to provide sector leading practice then the door is open. However, if you are not prepared to raise your game then you will not be part of our future vision for ITET in Wales.