Kirsty Williams, Cabinet Secretary for Education
An education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers, and our new curriculum cannot be delivered without a well-supported, aspirational teaching profession. We know that the world’s highest-performing education systems have vibrant, engaged educators and support staff who are committed to continuous learning. That is what we all want for Wales.
Our national mission for education – to raise standards, reduce the attainment gap, and deliver an education system that is a source of national pride and public confidence – can only be fulfilled if we have high quality, well-qualified teachers to deliver it.
To achieve that, we need excellent and inclusive teacher education.
In 2015 Professor Furlong published his report “Teaching Tomorrows Teachers”. That report told us that the Initial Teacher Education on offer in Wales was not capable of developing the teachers we need now and in the future.
As a government, we’ve made a commitment to enhance support for part-time and postgraduate students. Therefore making it easier for them to obtain the higher level skills our economy needs. And in Our National Mission, published last year, we made a clear commitment to attract and retain more high-quality graduates into teaching.
I do not underestimate the importance of delivering on that commitment. The need for a sufficient supply of high quality, well-qualified teachers underpins all our education reforms.
We have been working with key stakeholders, such as the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Advisory Board, the regional consortia and expert consultants to develop and refine our proposals.
We have made significant progress. Last year we:
• Published ITE accreditation criteria;
• Established the EWC Teacher Education Accreditation Board, Chaired by Professor Furlong, enabling the profession to set its own entry requirements; and
• Invited ITE Partnerships to submit their new ITE Programmes to the board in December.
I am assured of the rigour of the Accreditation process, and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Board – they have achieved an enormous amount in a very short space of time.
We have set high standards for the new ITE programmes through our Accreditation Criteria. The Board have judged whether those programmes are demanding, credible, and professionally appropriate. That is absolutely the right approach. We want only the highest quality programmes to prepare our teachers of tomorrow. The Board will also scrutinise the ITE Partnerships’ recruitment strategies for filling their allocated places, and reaching their targets with high calibre and highly capable candidates.
Work is continuing apace and we are on track for the first programmes to be delivered to students in September 2019. ITE Partnerships will soon be informed by the EWC of decisions and indicative numbers in June; and final confirmation of numbers will be sent in September this year.
Estyn will continue to monitor the provision of initial teacher education in the existing centres. This will ensure the quality of the ‘legacy programmes’ for the students who complete these programmes after September 2019.
Fundamental reform of ITE in Wales has been, and will continue to be, a collaborative process. We have worked with leading providers, including Oxford University, Glasgow University, Warwick University and Sheffield Hallam University. We also held a week long series of workshops organised by the OECD, involving world leading experts in the field of Initial Teacher Preparation.
From this solid progress, we are continuing to focus on developing alternative routes into teaching that:
• Are intellectually challenging and rigorously practical;
• Widen participation and enhance diversity in the profession;
• Provide career pathways and aid those changing their career;
• Address proven shortage areas, including Welsh medium provision; and
• Provide flexibility for trainees and schools.
To help us achieve those aims, we are proposing a world-leading development in the field of ITE – a new school-based, university-partnered part-time PGCE, which includes a number of employment based places.
To attract people with the expertise and knowledge to enrich our education system, we must remove barriers that prevent them entering the profession. I believe this new route will help us do that. This new part-time PGCE will deliver the qualification to students via a high-quality, blended learning model, ensuring a student’s locality is not an issue. It will also enable part-time students to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by the new student finance arrangements.
An Employment Based Route will mean that a student teacher can be employed in school from the outset. It will also enable the regional consortia to address proven shortages in schools region by region.
We will be looking to an HE provider, or partnership of providers, to deliver these proposals. This will mean working with the consortia in all regions, and with schools, thus securing the benefits of working to scale.
This new route must be both flexible and agile, involving effective professional support and development, and meet the same high quality requirements of new accreditation criteria.
Enriching the profession means we enrich the learning experience for our children. The flexibility of this new part-time route into teaching will provide opportunities to widen participation for those groups currently underrepresented in Wales’ teaching workforce.
It will enrich the profession by increasing diversity and allowing those with work-related experience from other fields to enter teaching.
We are working with stakeholders to develop proposals and engaging with potential bidders on delivery of the programme. It is our intention that any new contract will commence in February 2019, ready for the 2019/20 academic year.