Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
In March 2014, Professor John Furlong was appointed as Initial Teacher Education and Training (ITET) Adviser for Wales to consider and scope the changes that are needed to bring about improvements to ITET in Wales following a review of the quality and consistency of teacher training undertaken by Professor Ralph Tabberer in 2013.
In undertaking this work Professor Furlong has looked closely at the way current teacher training provision is organised in Wales, the evidence available to support the case for change and the measures that need to be taken in Wales to support a world class ITET system comparable to the best available elsewhere in the UK and internationally.
In April 2014 the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) published its report ‘Improving Schools in Wales’ acknowledged that Wales had begun work to reform and improve ITET in Wales, but noted that further improvements were required. The main comments focused on the need to attract and increase the quality of human capital among new entrants to the teaching profession, to add significant value to the quality and impact of teachers over time and raise the standard of provision on offer to make it more attractive to prospective candidates.
During the course of the year Professor Furlong has undertaken a number of visits and held a series of meetings with the ITET sector, key stakeholders, experts in ITET from within and outside of Wales, including public bodies engaged in the delivery of ITET; and teacher practitioner representatives. This scoping work has now concluded and Professor Furlong’s independent report – Teaching Tomorrow’s Teachers is published today and can be accessed on the Welsh Government website at (include URL)
In his report Professor Furlong has concluded that teacher education in Wales is at a critical turning point and if the teaching profession itself is to make its proper contribution to the raising of standard of education in our schools in the way that has been proposed in Professor Donaldson’s report on the review of curriculum in Wales – Successful Futures, then what is required is a form of ITET that is expansive rather than restricted, one that offers teachers themselves the skills, knowledge and dispositions to lead the type of change that will be required.
The report highlights the undeniable need for ITET reform in Wales at a National, institutional and course programme level which will require fundamental changes to the current framework governing ITET in Wales. The report recognises the most recent BERA research evidence available which sets out the following core principles and features of high quality initial teacher education available internationally:
- to ensure that initial teacher education programmes attract the best and most suitable candidates into the teaching profession;
- offer academic awards that are competitive, practice focused and built on relevant educational research;
- develop strong links between theory and practice, in a way that helps students to understand and explore the interconnectedness of educational theories and classroom practices;
- establish strong links between ITET and CPD of teachers within schools
- ensure that all of the above principles are underpinned by a clear understanding of evidence about how student teachers learn to teach and that the courses themselves are the constant subject of research and development.
In his report Professor Furlong sets out a series of options for change and nine key recommendations geared to address the current weaknesses in ITET and underpin the type of characteristics evidenced by high performing ITET systems elsewhere.
I welcome the report and recommendations and want to take this opportunity to thank Professor Furlong for his commitment, impartiality and professionalism in undertaking this work. Nobody can deny that the case for change presented in the report is compelling and that if we wish to raise and maintain standards in education we must produce newly qualified, reflective practitioners with the appropriate, qualifications, skills and resilience able to support the wide-ranging and radical curriculum changes proposed by Professor Donaldson in his report – Successful Futures.
There is nothing in the report that I would disagree with in principle. The options for reform, and how we implement these changes, will need to be considered in greater detail. We will fully engage with our partners in the ITET sector and key stakeholders at all stages of the process to ensure that the sector remains viable in the interim period and that there is a smooth transition to a new model of ITET in the future.
No doubt there will be challenging times ahead as we seek to implement these changes and we must take the time to ensure that the necessary levers are in place to effect change in ITET which is sustainable in the longer term, is built on firm foundations, and at its core supports Professor Donaldson’s proposed curriculum changes and our objectives set out in Qualified for Life.