Yesterday the Million+ group of universities launched their Manifesto for Teacher Education in a dining room at the House of Commons. The Chair, the VC of Staffordshire University was flanked by two leading teacher association officials and Labour and Tory party speakers, albeit the Labour member of their education team was Welsh and the ATL speaker was bilingual and had taught in Wales: the debate was wide ranging.
The manifesto itself highlights the need for teachers to have an academic and professional qualification and seeks to restore the pre-eminence of universities in both the preparation of new teachers and in their professional development throughout their career. The manifesto view that Osfted should inspect all providers is sensible, as it the promotion of a workforce that represents society as a whole. Adding a point about the Teacher Supply Model and a need for regional variations in demand to be taken into account is an interesting development and reflects a wider concern about allocations. Especially where targets aren’t being met.
There was a point when the Tory speaker challenged the need for a teaching qualification albeit starting his remarks by saying that there were fewer unqualified teachers now than there were a few years ago. A bit like a position of ‘wanting to have your cake and eat it.’ This led to a debate about whether HE lecturers should also be trained and, at least from me, a question about whether that applied to FE teaching staff as well? Most seemed in favour of preparation for all that teach at whatever level.
The elephant in the room that nobody addressed, despite a direct question from me, was about whether graduates training as teachers should be expected to pay fees? This isn’t mentioned in the manifesto either. Despite their recent announcement, the Labour speaker didn’t mention anything about whether trainees would be expected to pay fees. As regular reads know, my position is clear, there should be no fees for graduate trainees preparing to be a teacher by whatever route they choose and the present position is discriminatory. However, I have yet to win Lib Dem support for this position.
On the teacher supply position it was humbling to be referred to by two of the speakers as a leading authority. However, I had many years of following the trends and TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk was set up to collect data about the interface between training and employment and thus help improve the modelling of where teachers need to be trained.
The fact that it also offers a free service bring together vacancies and trainees looking for jobs is a bonus that will shortly be extended to all classroom teachers in secondary schools and if discussions underway are successful eventually to the primary sector and to include all promoted and leadership vacancies as well. Next month we hope to publish data on where trainees are looking for vacancies; and just as importantly, where they aren’t. This could provide a lively debate about the very regional needs Million+ highlighted. At present, secondary schools in Yorkshire and the Humber have posted around a third fewer vacancies per school than schools in the South East of England. Despite the presence of TeachFirst, London schools aren’t far behind their neighbours in the South East in seeking new teachers. This is something Million+ will need to bear in mind.