Promoting Quality in Teacher Education

PCET deferrals, professional standards and minimum core requirements (UCET advice)


UCET Advice on PCET deferrals, professional standards and minimum core requirements.

Anticipated deferrals

Out of 17 'Firm' students 1 has asked to defer specifically citing COVID19 as the reason. I anticipate that this will rise as we get closer to September.

I would expect 4 out of 22 to defer until next year due to incomplete placement experience.

It is the full time PGCE that is most impacted and currently it looks like 11 will need to return next year.

DET and professional standards questions

1 Revision of the Minimum Core

The Minimum Core is quite generic in tone and is also looking quite dated as they stand.

  1. Do they still have any relevance or utility?

No- we’ve considered they’re outdated for a few years now. We still ask for evidence but this is then duplicated in the evidence against the standards. The good thing about the Min Core is the focus on personal skills as well as embedding. The fear is this could be lost...

Somewhat, but there are a lot and they are not that easy to use.

Yes, teachers should be able to confidently model and support their learners with literacy, numeracy and ICT. However, the minimum core became a ‘tick box’ and there were far too many aspects to consider which detracted from how trainees developed their literacy, numeracy and ICT skills. It is important that trainees can identify own areas for development and seek to improve in this respect, but perhaps narrowing the particular sub-skills for literacy, numeracy and ICT to those that are most pertinent to the role of a teacher, would enable ITT providers to more effectively support them to develop? Perhaps something along the lines of the fundamental maths and English requirements for QTS programmes?

Yes, the MC is still valid but does need to be revised to be made more accessible and relevant to FE contexts. It should be condensed as it was always unwieldy and relate more directly to how it could be used in realistic settings. Examples or case studies would help. I think retaining the sub-skills required by trainees is important because in my experience if these are not explored, only superficial understanding emerges. For example, trainees talk or write in terms of improving speaking and listening skills without understanding the need to support the development of things such as tone, structure, discourse markers, active listening strategies, etc. In practice they set S&L tasks for their students without any groundwork carried out beforehand and then wonder why the students struggle. Yes, I would like to see and comment on drafts.

Yes it is outdated. We refer to 'embedding' and 'upskilling' and in the light of their own subject contexts.

  1. What could they look like in the future?

If the PS are to be revised how about a focus on min core personal skills in addition to supporting learners? This would constitute a small tweak to PS 15 & 16 and is still relevant to the domain ‘Professional Skills’.

Certainly need to update ICT/digital skills. As mentioned, perhaps a narrower focus on key sub-skills that are perceived to be most crucial to teaching a range of subjects.

More in line with the Fundamental Skills. We use the Minimum Core as part of the trainees’ self audits (Functional Skills L2 Maths paper, Self assessment questionnaires for both English and ICT) and then additional sessions which focus on helping trainees to improve their skills in key areas. Now that there is no Skills Test, the university has taken the approach that all phases have to do the same and we have had to map the Minimum Core to the Fundamental Skills so that we are doing the Fundamental Skills, plus any extra which is in the Minimum Core. The other phases do not need to comply with our Minimum Core however. We also use the Minimum Core in the English Pathway and the Maths Pathway sessions but time could be more wisely used for areas which really help the trainees to support their learners.

In the partnership the big issue is around the year ones heading in to year two (we made a little adjustment to year one in the sense of rolling over an observation and reducing teaching hours but the main focus was naturally to put in a more significant adjustment for year twos). The university is looking at our suggestion as to a holding pen- retaining the year two adjustments to the benefit of the current year ones (i.e. keeping to 6 observations rather than 8).

  1. Would members like to see and comment on any DRAFTs when they emerge?

Yes please



2 Revision of the Professional Standards

The revision of the PS is due in the near future. This is a great opportunity to pass on any comments that could inform the revision and shape their eventual content and scope

I’d like to see embedding Critical Thinking a devoted Professional Standard. This was a focus of my Masters Research and the study revealed FE teachers largely supported this! I’ve also written about this in SET’s journal InTuition.

A standard devoted to supporting learning online/facilitating online learning environments?

I think the PS have worked quite well as a guiding framework but feedback from trainees and course team discussions has indicated that there are still too many and the overlap between the three different domains is sometimes confusing or indicative of repetition. I also think there are some aspects that are perhaps overlooked or not explicit enough.

We are happy with the scope the standards provide us i.e. they are open for interpretation and application. We don't assess against them but they do underpin and are referred to in observations and in action planning. What is most important for us is the meaning and application the student applies to them. We would be interested in seeing drafts.

We feel the need to be cautious recommending any changes to the standards. We have worked hard to have them recognised as aspirational standards for the sector to work towards (though many still have no idea of what these are). I think we are ‘a long way down the road’ with these – they are inherent in many ITT programmes, professional status and CPD across many institutions - and should they change, it could be a disaster for our sector. We do not wish to return to the days of 137 standards or the Fento Fandango!

However, if we were to suggest anything, it would be around refining some of the language used. For example, ‘11 – manage and promote positive learner behaviour’ should be in the ‘professional skills’ section as the language implies a skill. Were it to say ‘know ways to manage…’ then it has a case for being in the professional knowledge and understanding section (as it currently is).

We run both the DET with X AB and the PGCE with XHEI. Our approach is initial teacher training collectively focusing the efforts on the professional standards and developing reflective practitioners who engage learners and lead them towards success. The Professional Standards is our core and we use the SET’s self-evaluation tool as a measure of success. The minimum core is not included in our DET course and we find that the connection between SET self-assessment allows for continuity towards the QTLS.

3 Additional Guidance for 20/21 programmes

Reflecting on some of the discussions during the UCET Post-16 meeting on 22 May 20, what additional guidance would you expect or require going forward in to 20/21 particularly in relation to anticipated prevalence of online delivery approaches.

Guidance/advice in relation to virtual placements- where trainees could be engaged in online teaching, learning and assessment in support of their mentor and their learners. From the scenarios being discussed across the FE and University sectors it seems that leaders are looking at ways of organising teaching so that there is minimal face to face contact, for at least, the first term of 20-21. Some kind of statement in regard to recognition of online teaching might be useful in steering providers to gearing up to support their new student teachers to develop their online teaching skills. Whatever happens after this crisis is over – programmes may all be a lot more blended across the board.

My concerns are largely around the trainees’ ability/opportunity to do their placements and how to ensure we address online pedagogy sufficiently as part of their training. My concern is that applicants probably won’t have considered themselves as digital learning designers. This will obviously be an important part of the role.

Part time – We are planning on putting a line through this year using the guidance given for trainees finishing their course so that they have less requirements to fulfil in their first year, and then look at next year as a separate year. New trainees starting - Concerned that trainees receiving online teaching and then teaching online themselves will not get a ‘proper’ experience of teaching and actually will pu