My guest blog for Oriel Square Publishing

By John Howson, chair of TeachVac and County Councillor in Oxfordshire. *This blog was written before the DfE’s announcement on 2nd January 2021 of a new Institute of Teaching.

2020 didn’t prove to be a happy 150th anniversary for state education in England. Hopefully, we will be able to look back on 2021 with better memories. One clear outcome from 2020 was the need to review methods of teaching and learning as pupils were forced to interact with their teachers remotely.

Teacher preparation

The oversight of the school system might have been better managed had there been a strong middle-tier between schools and policymakers.

For many years, too much of the preparation and professional development of teachers has been focused on looking backwards at the past rather than at understanding the possibilities offered by a very different future. The Covid-19 pandemic changed that approach overnight. Parents discovered the reality of teaching and school leaders had to invent new patterns of dialogue between their staff and pupils; often with little help from the government.

Indeed, the planning and oversight of the school system, fractured as it is between local authorities, stand-alone academies and Multi Academy Trusts, might have been better managed had there been a strong middle-tier in operation between schools and policymakers at Westminster.

The role of schools in teaching training

In the course of the past fifty years, the labour market for teachers has oscillated between periods of shortage and times of oversupply.

For many years, I have been an observer of the workings of the labour market for teachers. In the course of the past 50 years that I have been involved with schools in England, the labour market for teachers has oscillated between periods of shortage – occasionally of severe shortages of teachers – and other times where there has been an oversupply.

Under the coalition government, and especially under the stewardship of Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education, schools were encouraged to be at the forefront of teacher supply. Traditional higher education routes of teacher preparation were out of favour, and narrowly missed disappearing altogether when faced with recruitment controls.

At its zenith, the ambitious School Direct salaried route into teaching accounted for 12% of postgraduate entrants into teacher training.

The ambitious School Direct salaried route into teaching reached its zenith in 2016/17 when such trainees accounted for 12% of postgraduate entrants into teacher training. By the government’s 202/21 training year census the same route only accounted for five per cent of trainees, despite a larger number of trainee places being available. …

To read the rest of the blog go to https://www.orielsquare.co.uk/blog/index.php/2021/01/05/teacher-training-putting-the-past-behind-us/

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