Carter Review – what’s the evidence on teacher training?

Sir Andrew Carter’s review into initial teacher training includes amongst his key messages:

“We believe it is critical that ITT should teach trainees why engaging with research is important and build an expectation and enthusiasm for teaching as an evidence-based profession.”

and commenting on routes into the profession:

“Ultimately it is difficult to compare the effectiveness of different routes. Our engagement with universities, SCITTs and schools has not led us to draw any clear conclusions that any one route is better than another. We have found strengths across all routes. …… We have also found that the diversity of different routes is a strength, allowing the system to meet the needs of different schools and trainees.”

The EMC asked two teacher training research experts whether key findings of the Carter Review are supported by the general research evidence on the hallmarks of high quality teacher education?

Dr Emma Wisby , Head of Policy & Public Affairs, UCL Institute of Education:

“We welcome the review’s emphasis on subject knowledge and evidence-based practice.

The attempt to separate out Qualified Teacher Status and the PGCE is unhelpful and risks reducing the rigour of training, as well as the standing and appeal of teaching as a career; it is out-of-step with arrangements in the best-performing school systems internationally.

What we find at the heart of teacher training in the highest-performing countries is close partnership working between schools and universities.

This is the ‘clinical model’ of teacher training, combining classroom practice in schools and professional training in universities. It is the ability to draw on the strengths of each that offers the best grounding for new teachers and for the teaching profession as a whole.

No other country in the world has training which is as school-based as England.

The international evidence indicates that effective initial teacher training, or ITT, depends on close relationships between universities and schools, and that ITT is more beneficial for the trainee and more sustainable when both universities and schools are fully involved in delivering the training – from recruitment to graduation and, ideally, through to early career support.

In particular, the involvement of universities is crucial for providing and promoting links to the research base. Singapore, as one example, is investing heavily in educational research that will feed back into practice.”

Ellen Greaves, senior research economist at IFS and lead author of a study, comparing the costs and benefits of different routes into teaching highlighted the review did not consider different costs of different training routes to central government:

“The overall costs and benefits of different teacher training routes depend largely on the costs to central government and these costs vary significantly by route and trainee characteristics. Being clear about the rationale for the current system of funding is important.”

“There is now a broad range of initial teacher training routes which may help ensure that a wide range of potential trainee teachers consider and train for the career. Importantly, our research finds that trainees from different routes are perceived by schools to be of largely similar “quality”.”

Note to journalists:

Dr Wisby’s comments draw on the following research: [e.g. Bills, L., Briggs, M., Browne, A., Gillespie, H., Gordon, J., Husbands, C., Phillips, E., Still, C. and Swatton, P. (2008) International Perspectives on Quality in Initial Teacher Education: An exploratory Review of Selected International Documentation on Statutory Requirements and Quality Assurance, in Research Evidence in Education Library, London: EPPI-Centre, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. See also reports from McKinsey and OECD.]​

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