Government Review Threatens to Undermine Teacher Education
Monday, July 5, 2021
At a time when we should be celebrating the success of our teacher education programmes in preparing high-quality teachers who have been able to adapt nimbly and expertly to the demands of the pandemic, the Government’s ITT Market Review report (Initial teacher training (ITT) market review) instead threatens the future viability of programmes such as the Oxford PGCE.
Today the government published the report of the Expert Advisory Group (EAG) of the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review. The University of Oxford, which has an international reputation for the quality of its teacher education (PGCE) programme and which has consistently been awarded the highest ratings by Ofsted, has serious concerns about the recommendations contained in the report. There is little indication as to why this review was deemed necessary (when all existing ITT providers are rated by Ofsted as being either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’) and the report threatens to undermine the very basis on which the Oxford PGCE operates.
The call for consistency across ITT programmes nationally has led to a set of recommendations which will impose control over every aspect of initial teacher education, resulting in:
- a curriculum which will need to be aligned totally to the government’s ITT Core Content Framework;
- increased prescription as to how the teacher education programme is structured and delivered;
- prescribed approaches to assessment; a national ‘delivery’ model that appears not to allow for the continuation of high-quality local partnerships such as the Oxford PGCE; and
- requirements for the school-based aspects of the programme which will have significant resource implications.
The recommendations also raise questions as to what degree of academic freedom a university will have within such a model, and the extent to which it can continue to plan and deliver a programme in close collaboration with its local school partners. Like many other teacher education programmes nationally, the Oxford PGCE works closely with local schools to meet both the schools’ needs and those of the teaching profession more widely. Breaking long-established, close links with schools across our partnership threatens our ability to achieve those two purposes.