My last post about teacher training in England was over a month ago, after I had watched a session of the House of Commons Education Committee.
Since then we haven’t heard very much from the committee about their inquiry which is re-examining the issue of ‘Great Teachers’. Within this it is asking questions about School Direct, the new school-based training model being rolled out in England.
However, yesterday the science education grouping SCORE published a letter it had received in reply from the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). The original SCORE letter to the English Education Minister, Michael Gove, was in August and expressed ‘grave concerns’ about the impact of current reforms on the teaching of school sciences, especially via School Direct.
The part from the NCTL reply which most struck me was mention that Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, has been asked to consider a ‘survey inspection’ of School Direct in 2014/15. Encouraging though this is, my concern is that it may be too little, too late. I would prefer the inspection to take place as soon as possible and wonder what views Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, may have on this. He, as an ex-Head, knows the importance of ensuring you recruit the right staff, with the right subject/teaching knowledge and skills. He has also recently investigated the educational needs of poorer children and recommended that “the government must do more to ensure that teachers on funded schemes are directed to under-performing schools in less fashionable or more remote or challenging places.”
The sooner we have independent evidence of the implementation issues around School Direct, the better prepared new teachers will be to focus on student improvement, especially in these challenging schools.
My reasoning on urgency is supported by the revised secondary school accountability system announced yesterday – this will need to take heed of current issues in selecting, training, recruiting and embedding teachers in the key GCSE and vocational subjects to be reported on from 2016 onwards. It is also taking place at the same time as large-scale curriculum and qualifications reforms in schools and colleges will come into effect and the continuation of policies to open more Free Schools and convert more schools to quasi-independent status.
There seems no excuse for putting things off in the current whirlpool of educational change.