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Damian Hinds announcement on tackling teacher recruitment and retention

Secretary of State Damian Hinds has announced the DfE’s initial response to the report ‘Strengthening Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and Improving Teacher Career Progression’, at Friday’s National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) annual conference. Changes include extending the induction period from one to two years, while he blasted Mocksteds and triple marking as “costly distractions”. 

The Department for Education (DfE) launched the public consultation in December 2017, and it set out a range of proposals for ensuring teachers have the right support in place at the beginning of their careers, improving access to high-quality professional development, and improving progression opportunities for all teachers throughout their careers. 

At the NAHT conference, Mr Hinds also announced a £5million sabbatical find for teachers with over 10 years’ experience, allowing them to take between a term and a year out of school to further their professional development. 

‘I think it an utter travesty that so many NQTs end up losing their early enthusiasm’ Damian Hinds

And he vowed to focus on cutting teacher workload, adding, “When I see NQTs brimming with passion to change young lives for the better, I think it an utter travesty that so many end up losing their early enthusiasm, because of the pressures of the job. Especially when so many of those pressures are entirely unnecessary.

“Because that’s what endless data cuts, triple marking, 10 page lesson plans, and, worst of all, Mocksteds are: a distraction from the core purpose of education. And a costly distraction at that.”

Mr Hinds previously made a statement at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference, backing more freedom for teachers so they can focus on the tasks which will make a real difference to learning.

In his speech, Mr Hinds said, “We need to get back to the essence of successful teaching; strip away the workload that doesn’t add value and give teachers the time and the space to focus on what actually matters. Trust teachers to teach. That’s in the interests of teachers but it is also in the interests of children.” Emma Hollis, executive director of NASBTT, on Damian Hinds' announcement

The National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) was one of the 2,033 respondents to the QTS consultation and their response, submitted in February, is here. Giving her reaction to the publication of the DfE’s initial response to the consultation, NASBTT Executive Director Emma Hollis said, “We are particularly pleased that the government is seating these proposals within a wider strategy around recruitment, retention, workload and professional development. This is demonstrative of the joined-up approach that NASBTT has been advocating. We are also exceptionally pleased that the DfE plans to continue to work with the sector as the proposals set out in this consultation response evolve. As a profession, we have long been asking to be done ‘with’ rather than ‘done to’, and it seems that these proposals are taking this approach.  

“In terms of the details of the response, we are thrilled to note that QTS will remain where it is, as the end of the ITT year and it is the induction period which will be extended to include a greater entitlement to professional development and support, including additional time for early career professionals to access these. From the first launch of this consultation, we have strongly advocated for this result and the proposal rightly recognises the strength of the ITT sector and seeks to improve the quality of induction, which is where we believe the greatest gains can be made. We are fully supportive of the development of the Early Career Framework for the induction period and look forward to working closely with the expert team to help shape this. We are also pleased to note that the DfE is ‘attracted’ to our suggested alternative to QTS(P) and QTS. We advocated strongly for QTS and Endorsed QTS and this has been recognised in the consultation response.

“We welcome the proposals around recognising the importance and status of mentors and the review of mentor training needs. We have seen with the development of NASBTT’s Teacher Educator Programmes, launched earlier this year, that the appetite for additional support and training for mentors is there and we are pleased the government is recognising this important role. Similarly, we welcome the commitment to the development of specialist qualifications and will continue to work closely with government to champion a career path for teacher educators as part of this development work.

“We also note with pleasure the willingness to consider our proposal that the appropriate body market should be opened up to ITT providers and are also very supportive of the plans to strengthen the appropriate body function and to introduce an accreditation and quality assurance process for these bodies. In particular, we are pleased that the proposal sets out clear aims to approach these changes in a joined up, iterative manner which ensures that each element is considered in conjunction with the other and will not lead to stand-alone strategies which conflict.  We recognise that this means the process will take time but are very supportive of an approach which takes a measured, considered approach to these fundamental changes, ensuring they are done properly with adequate thought and consideration. In involving the profession along the way, this will lead to greater buy-in and longer lead times for schools and other stakeholders to adopt and implement the changes.

“However, the issue of funding remains unanswered. Whilst we fully understand that this is a matter for the next Spending Review, we must not lose sight of the fact that for these proposals to be successful, they must be properly funded and fully resourced. More funding is needed.”

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