Sheffield Hallam's Institutional response to the Initial Teacher Training Review
The story of Sheffield Institute of Education and our response
With over 100 years of experience, we are one of the largest providers of teacher professional development, we work with over 600 partners, and we are home to many of the leading academic thinkers and influential school leaders in this space. As educators and trainers of over 2,200 trainees and student teachers (ITT and SCITT total, July 2021) we pride ourselves on our innovative and comprehensive approach to teacher development and as a partnership, our mission to transform lives shapes everything that we do. Our partnerships have considerable strengths and we are not working from a deficit model.
We value and promote school-led teacher development and support both School Direct and SCITT partnerships. We were involved from inception in the development of Teaching School Alliances then Teaching School Hubs in the region, and are a partner in delivery of the ECF and NPQs. We therefore recognise many of the themes in the report as priorities across our partnerships.
Our Sheffield Institute of Education Research and Knowledge Exchange Centre has led innovations in teacher professional development, and evaluated national programmes including those focusing on evidence-based teaching, maths mastery and literacy. Sam Twiselton's three stage model of curriculum sequencing has strongly influenced our partnerships' developments in terms of curriculum sequencing and trainee support, and that work has been operationalised through our School Direct and SCITT community networks, and our revision of school based training expectations, intervention, and assessment. Sam's leadership across our partnerships and the ITT sector has ensured good practice in coherent curriculum design has been shared to benefit all providers and partners in our region.
We recognise the crucial importance of mentor preparation and training and have worked as both ITT and SCITT partnerships in developing successful mentor training programmes. We have supported considerable development work in mentoring through our research (e.g. Hobson & Maxwell, 2017) and as a partnership continue to improve our support for mentors in the delivery of our ITT curriculum and the joint assessment of trainees.
Our investment in a sector leading education placements team has ensured that we have had appropriate high quality placements for our provision. We recognise that further improvements can be made here, building on our partnership success of sourcing appropriate UG and PGCE placements, and the high levels of trainee satisfaction expressed in NSS, and PGCE satisfaction survey scores evidences the strength we build on as a partnership.
Sheffield Hallam's response in terms of what is missing in the proposals
Civic engagement and locality-based education developments. We are home to the Civic University Network, which aims to help better connect universities' civic ambitions and obligations to the localities in which they are based. Sheffield Hallam's own Civic University Agreement, launched in July 2021, also features prominently commitments to education, skills and specifically teacher preparation, highlighting the importance of this offer to our local community and partners.
Wellbeing and mental health support. Whilst we support the focus on curriculum development and support for cognitive development in both school students and trainee teachers, we believe this cognitive development occurs in a social, psychological, and economic context. It therefore follows that , especially given the timing of this consultation in relation to Covid-19, ITT training recognises the content in which learning is taking place. We have ensured all our trainees and student teachers have received introductory training in supporting the mental health of children and young people, and evaluation data to the date suggests this is a key area for all engaged in education and schooling.
We would also argue that our experience of the pandemic leads to the inclusion of several other key areas:
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): We believe EDI should be more of a focus in the ITT training system given the ambition to provide a world class service.
- Blended Learning, remote learning and simulation: A future facing curriculum should reflect recent changes in teaching and learning and professional development.
- Interprofessional working: The pandemic, and a series of public enquiries, has emphasised the importance of inter-professional collaboration and communication.
- Progression from Early Years education to Primary schooling: Given the undisputed evidence of the importance of 0-5 education we are surprised that this is not highlighted in the consultation.
- Progression from Secondary education to Post-16 and FE: Given the current policy developments in Post-16 and FE, we feel transition to FE could be given more consideration in any future ITT 'system'.
The overall approach to addressing the challenges identified and alternative approaches to addressing these challenges
The evidence base. A review of international approaches to teacher development highlights the importance of a broader range of research than is referred in the consultation document. Models of clinical practice, internship and social pedagogy are all evidence-based and well evaluated approaches and we would expect to see this recognised in a world class ITT proposal.
Cold spots and school led provision. We see a risk to provision in 'cold spots' met by smaller SCITT provision in the proposals so we would support location/context specific solutions rather than a single English solution.
Intensive practice placements
We have operated intensive placements and we welcome the approach as one tool to ensure progression for trainees at the early stages of their education and training. However, we think it may be counterproductive to define the timing and sequence in advance. The approach needs to be adapted to school and course/trainee needs in order to gain support from schools and settings. Our partnership feedback is that a key barrier to implementation is the provision of necessary financial resource to plan and deliver the placements and the difficulty in making time and space available for intensive placements in small primary and secondary schools. These barriers could be mitigated by ensuring appropriate resource and the support of Teaching School Hubs and MATs. Appropriate support for employment-based routes would also be needed, such as agreed time away from employment commitments to liaison with other employment based settings to 'exchange' groups of trainees for placement learning.
The minimum hours tariff for mentoring was seen as a problem by many of our partners given their prime focus on the education of school students. Mentor training is also an area of concern. Our partners fed back that recruitment of ECF mentors had reduced the remaining capacity for ITT mentoring in some schools. The level of specification for lead mentors is unnecessarily bureaucratic and devalues the contribution that existing lead practice educators already make to current programmes.
Other curriculum requirements
We welcome the opportunity to further develop an ambitious curriculum which includes further content to be taught (over and above maintaining existing requirements and principles of the Core Content Framework). This supports our work on reflecting the local context and needs in curriculum design and course delivery. Partnership feedback is that school based colleagues recognise the importance of preparation for the Early Career Framework in the ITT phase. Those colleagues who are currently delivering the ECF are personalising delivery to their schools' needs, and therefore a continuation of this approach in initial teacher preparation should be continued.
Feedback from our partners raised issues of capacity, training space, and availability of time and financial resource. Support needed includes the provision of extra DfE funding for mentor training and development, and the provision of support for schools not in a MAT or federation from which they may be able to draw support. We currently fund all mentor training, development, and support, and also share fees with School Direct partners to enable this in SD provision. We would need to jointly access extra resources to implement the proposed requirements.
Structures and partnerships
We currently have very successful structures in place for SCITT, School Director and provider led partnerships. We welcome the opportunity to develop our co-constructed curriculum, and work on mentor training and curriculum development. However, we collaborate on shared responsibilities (required 5.1) and would not merely 'delegate responsibility to lead partners' but rather continue to jointly plan successful ITT and ECF teacher development as a successful school led, research informed, comprehensive set of partnerships.
We do not support this approach to accreditation or re-accreditation. Our mission is to transform lives and raise educational opportunities in our region. A new accreditation process is a distraction from achieving that mission, and the accreditation and re-accreditation process does not value existing successful partnerships. The accreditation process has particular risks for 'cold spots' and smaller providers including outstanding SCITTs, and also risks re-igniting damaging competition between providers, instead of encouraging collaboration.
The risks of a re-accreditation process/brokering of support after a negative inspection judgement is highly destabilising to placement supply, trainee recruitment, and stability of partnerships. This is only likely to reduce the size of the market and limit the gains make through the establishment of location specific SCITT provision and employment-based training. Partnership feedback included concerns about how schools would manage systems/paperwork if providers were to change, and the issue of providing an appropriate time lag if support was brokered or provision moved to a new provider.
The DfE said in the accompanying consultation document that the re-accreditation process could be completed by September 2022.
This target poses a significant risk. It is our view that this timeline is not deliverable. Our experience of implementing the Early Career Framework, our School Direct partnership and out SCITT provider network would guide us to report that the November-March window for partnership information is too short. We are surprised that the DfE is committing to turn round the accreditation applications in under three months given the demands of a smaller accreditation resulting in four ECF providers.
This timeline does not consider the priorities of schools, colleges, and universities in terms of Covid-19 recovery and the removal of regional inequalities in educational opportunity. We do not think this is deliverable given the legal and contractual changes that will need to be made to form new, different, or enlarged partnerships, given the need for all parties to ensure financial sustainability and protect the quality of educational delivery.
Professor David Owen, Head of the Sheffield Institute of Education, said: "Our response to the consultation to the ITT Market Review is clear. Our professional engagement with school partners, our feedback from staff and students, and the results of our research and evaluation all indicate that the professional development of teachers needs to be focused on social justice and inclusion, on sharing and amplifying the existing excellent practice within our partnership, and in ensuring this research informed, partnership based education and training is appropriately resourced.
Our priority is to support education and training across the region in Covid-19 recovery, and to link education into wider Civic improvements for children and young people. Our research and partnership working indicates we can contribute to keeping great teachers in the profession by focusing on the moral purpose of education, through developing them as research informed professionals, and not merely providing their initial training as classroom technicians."