QTS Assessments for 2021 (Jan 2021)
The coronavirus restrictions introduced in the Spring term of 2021, are likely to impact on the amount of time that trainees will spend in schools, and the range of teaching experiences they will be afforded. As such providers need to consider how they can make recommendations for the awarding of QTS.
We propose that awarding QTS in 2021 does not require modification of the Teachers’ Standards or of the ways in which providers have planned and redesigned their programmes to account for the changing circumstances.
A close reading of the Teachers Standards document (DfE 2011) reveals three key caveats in the text:
- Section 6 of the Teacher Standards Documents states: ‘The standards need to be applied as appropriate to the role and context within which a trainee or teacher is practising’. (DfE 2011, p. 6).
- Section 13 emphasises how the Standards should be interpreted: ‘The bulleted subheadings should not be interpreted as separate standards in their own right, but should be used by those assessing trainees and teachers to track progress against the standard, to determine areas where additional development might need to be observed, or to identify areas where a trainee or teacher is already demonstrating excellent practice relevant to that standard’ (ibid, p.7).
- Section 14 states that the Teacher Standards are not simply a framework for the training period but are designed to underpin each stage of their professional career throughout which, ‘As their career progresses, teachers will be expected to extend the depth and breadth of knowledge, skills and understanding that they demonstrate in meeting the standards, as is judged to be appropriate to the role they are fulfilling and the context in which they are working.’ (Ibid, p. 7).
These elements of the Standards indicate that robust judgements of a trainee’s competence can be assessed in the light of the various teaching experiences they will have received during 2020/21: either this is through whole-class teaching, working with small groups or through remote and online education. These make up the various roles and contexts within which that trainee has been practising.
Specifically, providers need to consider how their trainees’ knowledge, skills and understanding can be assessed within the context of training in 2021. In other words, a context which encapsulates learning to teach pupils in the situations in which they are learning whether this be face to face or virtually. And it is this context that should be the lens through which robust judgements can be made about the recommendation for awarding QTS based on the evidence of knowledge, skills and understanding which are available.
Providers have the necessary professional expertise to make these judgements. In addition, they are able to help the individual trainee to assess where they are exhibiting strengths and where they will need to focus their professional development during their NQT year. Indeed, recent events have seen all teachers adapt their practice to new contexts and teaching scenarios. The trainees of 2021 will have developed the knowledge, skills and understanding to teach in this specific current context of the global pandemic, as well as what is needed to adapt to changing contexts for teaching as the situation evolves globally, nationally, and regionally over the next months and early stages of their career. Providers can focus their efforts on ensuring that their programmes do this.
The approach is predicated upon a recommendation for award of QTS being based simply on whether the trainee can be judged to have met the Standard within this context or not. It does not allow for gradations within this (outstanding, excellent etc.) which assume all trainees within one cohort have had an equal set of experiences in which to demonstrate the required evidence.
This approach will enable providers to consider whether each trainee can be recommended for QTS. But it is a step away from what has become custom and practice in judging progress against evidence largely demonstrated in a classroom setting. Providers, especially newer ones might need some reassurance about how to do this, and that this approach is supported by the sector (including Ofsted).
During 2021, providers have noted that trainees have had inequitable experiences due to paused placements, periods of self-isolation, school closures and different regional and national restrictions. The approach taken last year (to base judgements of an individual’s trajectory) is not suitable for this year given the various placement experiences. It is also unlikely that setting a minimum number of days of face-to-face teaching experience will be achievable for all due to circumstances outside the trainee’s and provider’s control. The suggested approach provides more clarity and confidence that trainees can meet the standards drawing upon a range of evidence from the context in which they have trained that can include online teaching practice.
22nd January 2021