New topography of ITT reveals the complexity and confusion of the ‘school led’ system


A new topography of initial teacher training in England challenges the claim that teacher preparation can be neatly packaged and that there are two simple options: university (HEI) or school-led training. Instead, the paper identifies and maps the multiple complexities of the new routes to qualified teacher status (QTS).

Towards a new topography of ITT: A profile of initial teacher training in England 2015-16 has been written by researchers in Bath Spa University’s Institute for Education. It shows how contemporary routes into ITT differ from earlier ones and how trainees are distributed across them.

The key message emerging from this research is the complexity of ITT provision and the failure of published data to articulate this. The research identifies 13 different routes to QTS and further analysis shows that within these routes, over 8,000 different course options were allocated trainee places for the 2015-16 academic year with over half of these accounting for just one or two registrations.

The new topography maps the multiple pathways to qualified teacher status (QTS) in England updating, and adding to, the findings of an earlier research project, Modes of Teacher Education (MOTE). The MOTE project and its key publication Teacher Education in Transition: re-forming professionalism? (Furlong et al. 2000) provided a major contribution to understanding the changing world of teacher preparation. Two members of the original team working on MOTE are contributing to the current research.

This study underlines the fact that even though diversity in provision can have its benefits, overwhelming complexity and the failure to capture the nature of each form of provision, make it very difficult to understand the outcomes of the inputs and processes that each route entails.

Partnership remains central to the notion of fostering the qualities of good teaching with each prospective teacher being at the heart of training blending the knowledge and skills offered by many individuals located across universities and schools.

One of the authors of the paper, Dr Caroline Whiting said: “For some time the government has promoted the ideal of a ‘school led’ system leading to several thousand discrete teacher training pathways.  This has made it difficult to map ITT as a whole, or to make conclusions about the benefits and outcomes of the different routes to qualified teacher status.

“Our work is the start of trying to bring some clarity to an extremely complex and confusing landscape.”

Given the contemporary turbulence and rapid shifts in policy affecting education in general and teacher preparation specifically, the topography offers a platform from which to investigate in detail the state of teacher preparation in England. The Diversity in Teacher Education (DiTE) programme, currently underway in the Institute for Education at Bath Spa University, is examining this in detail through a range of studies.

This new topography of ITT is now supporting an investigation into the nature of the identified routes to QTS which will help examine the field in a comprehensive and coherent manner.


The paper is available to read in full here

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The Editorial Account of UKEdChat, managed by editor-in-chief Colin Hill, with support from Martin Burrett from the UKEd Magazine. Pedagogy, Resources, Community.

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