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School teacher trainers reveal ITTECF mentor workload doubts

Nearly half of school-based teacher training providers doubt mentor workload will be reduced though the new teacher training framework, and a third don’t think it will cut unnecessary repetition, a survey has suggested.

However three-quarters of respondents to a poll by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) said they backed the new initial teacher training and early career framework (ITTECF) in principle.

The Department for Education announced in January that the core content framework and early career framework would be combined into the ITTECF.

Ministers pledged changes alongside the new framework would lesson mentor workload and cut out unnecessary repetition between the two.

But just 21 per cent of NASBTT members who responded think the new framework will help slash workload for mentors. Nearly half said it wouldn’t make a difference. 

In January, schools minister Damian Hinds admitted mentor workload is “too high”, as he unveiled a new “lead mentor role” and said Early Career Framework (ECF) mentors will have their training shortened from two years to one year.

Damian Hinds

But Jo Palmer-Tweed, chief executive at Essex & Thames Education and chair of The East of England Regional Network for Initial Teacher Training (ITT), said: “Capacity at schools is probably at an all-time low … and a lot of what’s been implemented relies on expertise in schools which isn’t necessarily there, and relies on capacity in school which definitely isn’t there.

“Attempting to make sure every trainee has a consistently excellent experience is really tough because we’re having to train the mentors before they can mentor the trainees.”

Doubts over pledge to axe ‘unnecessary repetition’

Hinds also pledged that merging the two frameworks would get rid of “areas of unnecessary repetition between ITT and early career training” – one of the criticisms of ECF and Core Content Framework (CCF). 

While 40 per cent of providers think it will help, a third think it won’t.

While the survey was based on just 77 responses, this makes up a large proportion of NASBTT’s 200-odd members.

Leaders said unresolved issues around delivering the new framework from September included mentoring capacity, workload related to mapping and reshaping curriculum content, time pressure and potential for continued repetition.

Emma Hollis, NASBTT chief executive, said it is “entirely understandable that ITT providers are not fully confident that the government will achieve its targets through the new framework”.

Emma Hollis

But there was some optimism. Nearly two-thirds of respondents think the new framework will improve content to help teachers support pupils with special educational needs. And more than half think it will create a more coherent journey for those joining the profession.

Will teaching apprenticeships boost recruitment?

Providers were also surveyed on the new non-graduate apprenticeship, due to be piloted next year.

Concerns raised included the costs to schools and length of time apprentices would spend in school without qualifying, the additional strain on mentoring and school capacity, and the competition for existing routes into teaching. 

Some 28.5 per cent said they did not think it would boost recruitment, versus 27.5 per cent who said it would help. Only 6.5 per cent think it will aid retention. 

“It is almost impossible to navigate your way through the apprenticeship policy and red tape, and until it is simplified significantly it is generally overly complex and too expensive for providers to run effectively”, Hollis added. 

A DfE spokesperson said: “It is encouraging to see this level of support for the new initial teacher training and early career framework, and we will continue to listen to feedback from providers and school staff.

“The Teacher Degree Apprenticeship will help schools recruit the skilled workforce they need by expanding opportunities for people from all backgrounds to earn while gaining the same high-quality, subject-specialist degree and qualified teacher status as those who have gone down other initial training routes.”

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