SEWCTET welcomes the acknowledgement of the ‘marked improvement’ in its ‘training provision’ by Estyn in The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales 2014-15 (p.106), following the observations provided by Gareth Evans (Education Editor, Western Mail) in his address at the recent Policy Forum for Wales seminar, ‘Reforming Initial Teacher Education and Training in Wales’. We agree with the importance of debate in getting education right for our children and the challenges each sector of education and training faces in addressing variability in outcomes and the quality of provision and leadership. Indeed, last week, Estyn published its thematic report on the Additional Graduate Programme (ATGP) a partnership between Teach First Cymru and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD). This report accepts that whilst ‘many participants make good progress in their teaching’, ‘too few achieve their potential of becoming excellent teachers’ (p.3). The variability in the quality of mentoring continues to be a challenge for all initial teacher education (ITE) providers in Wales and one which will assume even greater importance as Wales moves towards a more school-embedded teacher education system.
It is pleasing therefore, that Estyn has recognised the sector-leading work undertaken by SEWCTET and its partners in its drive for improvement. The best practice case study included within The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales 2014-15 (p.107) describes the number of comprehensive and thorough procedures that SEWCTET has implemented in order to strengthen quality assurance across the centre and its partnership schools. In his report, Meirlyr Rowlands (Chief HMI) emphasises that effective practices exist within Wales, but the challenge is to make sure that all providers share these practices and learn from them. This is one example of that sharing. It is also, in response to Gareth Evans, an example of how universities putting ‘teacher training front and centre’ have been effective in raising quality and ensuring consistency in provision.
There is a danger that de-contextualised sound bites about ITE, which focus on the ‘failings’ of universities, only serve to shift the focus away from the collective accountability for the improvement in pupil standards in Wales which needs to exist across all sectors of education and training.