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ISM's response to the Initial Teacher Training Market Review consultation

A public consultation into the Government’s Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Market Review closed on Sunday 22 August. The consultation requested views on the recommendations made in the ITT market review report, published in early July.

Among the recommendations were:

  • All ITT courses that lead to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) include an intensive practice placement of at least 4 weeks (20 days) in single-year courses, and 6 weeks (30 days) for undergraduate courses
  • Single-year ITT courses that lead to QTS should be required to be of 38 weeks’ duration, as a condition of accreditation, of which the minimum spent in schools should be 28 weeks
  • As a condition of their accreditation, ITT providers will identify enough ‘lead mentors’, who will “ensure trainees receive mentoring and support across placement schools which is aligned with the curriculum and informed by practice at all times”
  • Teaching school hubs should partner with an accredited provider to play a role in the delivery of ITT (a national network of 87 teaching school hubs was created by Department for Education to “ensure every school in the country has access to a centre of excellence for teacher professional development”. The vast majority are part of multi-academy trusts)
  • All ITT providers will be required to go through a new accreditation process
  • This will be underpinned by the introduction of a new set of Quality Requirements, which are recommended for implementation by all ITT providers

The ISM's response to ITT consultation

The ISM submitted a full response to the Government’s consultation, setting out several concerns with the proposals and specifically how they may impact the training of new music teachers.
Our concerns centred on the following points:

The substance of the proposals were largely generic, rather than subject specific. They also focus too much on the mechanics of ITT, rather than on the substance of the learning that should take place.

We are concerned that this threatens to undermine the level of subject specialism trainees will develop. Instead, we believe a focus on providing detailed understanding of the subject and the wider benefits of education should be at the forefront of these proposals; with the mechanics of how this is achieved then considered at a subject-specific level.

Trainees will not get sufficient time to focus on teaching music, and other arts subjects. Using intensive practice placements ignores the fact that subjects such as music generally have less time within the curriculum. They are often taught on a ‘carousel’ or rota system, so not all pupils are learning music every term. This could mean some trainee teachers do not experience any music teaching during their placements. This will likely exacerbate an existing problem, where for general postgraduate primary courses, music is generally only covered for between two and eight hours. This is insufficient to prepare trainees to plan, teach and assess music.

The funding and capacity implications of these proposals are not taken into account. The time which will need to be allocated to providing high-quality mentoring, will presumably have a knock on impact in terms of removing mentor teachers from the classroom.

It is unclear under these proposals how there would be sufficient capacity for very small and overstretched music departments to deliver intensive placements for groups of music teachers.
It seems likely that this will be a particular challenge for smaller schools and for those subjects – including music – where the number of teachers employed in a department may be particularly small.

More generally, the ISM is extremely concerned that more than 30 providers have indicated they may withdraw from ITT if these proposals go ahead.

This would represent a loss of around 10,000 teacher training places per year. The new Institute of Teaching will only provide around 1000 ITT places a year, so a shortage of teachers would be inevitable. Prior to the 2020/21 academic year, recruitment targets for secondary subjects had been missed in seven consecutive years.

The impact of a further loss of training places is likely to be particularly acute for music, where the number of trainees starting secondary music ITE /ITT courses between 2008-09 and 2018-19 had already fallen by 64 per cent.

The ISM's position

The ISM are calling on the Government to reconsider these proposals and undertake a thorough, evidence-based review that allows the entire education system to recover and rebuild following the pandemic. Such a review must enhance and improve the current ITT system, but it is clear from the number of concerned voices that many fear these proposals will have the opposite effect. As cuts to higher education arts courses take effect, it is more important than ever that more great teachers are encouraged into the profession, not fewer.

The Government will review the outcome of the consultation and publish their response to the feedback received later in 2021. The ISM will consider the Government response and provide an update to members.

Music education report op ed

ISM blog discussing music education and the path towards a better education system, fit for purpose for the 21st century

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