Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and Welsh Language
On 1 December 2022 I launched a consultation on the refreshed ‘Criteria for the accreditation of Initial Teacher Education programmes in Wales’ document. The Criteria set out the requirements for all initial teacher education (ITE) programmes that award qualified teacher status in Wales. The consultation proposed a refreshed draft Criteria document that had been updated from its current version, first published in 2017.
Our teacher educators and middle tier partners worked alongside international experts and the architect of the ITE reforms in Wales, Professor Furlong OBE, to ensure our ITE continues to support the education system by providing high quality provision for student teachers. The consultation set out the proposed amendments to guarantee that both reaccredited and newly accredited ITE Programmes in Wales reflected:
- the maturing educational reforms in Wales
- the lessons learned from our first set of accredited programmes and,
- raised ambitions and expectations for ITE programmes and ITE Partnerships, to support our aspiration for world leading ITE in Wales.
The consultation showed wide support for the proposed draft Criteria and our approach to the ongoing development of school teacher qualifications. We have built on the stakeholder feedback received throughout this process and the findings from the consultation and I am pleased to publish the refreshed ‘Criteria for the accreditation of Initial Teacher Education programmes in Wales’ today.
The vision for ITE in Wales is that schools and higher education institutions have equal roles in delivering theoretical and practical input to ensure a high-quality learning experience for our future teachers. Since the ITE reforms began our schools and HEIs have worked hard and creatively to design and deliver new ITE programmes for their student teachers, and I am committed to support and build on their success. As the 2019 OECD review into Wales ITE system highlighted, our approach to recognise ‘schools as an important partner in the design and delivery of initial teacher education programmes and the creation and use of research’ is a clear strength. The refreshed Criteria further develops and highlights our high expectations.
Our teaching workforce is critical to the success of our education reforms with the new Curriculum for Wales at the centre. In Wales we believe teaching is a highly practical and robustly intellectual endeavour. High quality ITE programmes are vital to equip teachers for their own lifelong learning journey in a continually changing world. As that first step, our ITE programmes ensure that our beginner teachers are properly prepared to enter their classrooms, informed by research and other forms of evidence, capable, keen to continue to learn and ready to support all learners in the diverse school contexts across Wales.
My goal is to ensure that Wales continues to develop a reflective, enquiring, and collaborative education profession, with a culture of mutual responsibility in relation to professional learning. The Criteria renew and strengthen the responsibilities of schools and HEIs to secure the quality of our ITE provision for student teachers, making it clear that teacher educators possess a key role in preparing our teachers of tomorrow. The requirements strengthen the links between ITE and our improved induction package, aligning with the National Professional Learning Entitlement (NPLE) and the National Strategy for Educational Research and Enquiry (NSERE). They support and emphasise the role of ITE not just as the best possible start of a student teacher’s career, but for supporting a Wales-wide research engaged profession, with both HEIs and schools having their part to play.
The aims of ‘Cymraeg 2050: Welsh language strategy’ are also strengthened within the Criteria, which now codifies the work of Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and our ITE Partnerships to support bilingualism and the development of all student teachers Welsh language skills via the Welsh language competency framework for education practitioners. The requirements also reflect the commitments in the ‘Welsh in education workforce plan’.
Our national mission is to achieve high standards and aspiration for all by tackling the impact of poverty on attainment and supporting every learner to succeed, irrespective of their personal characteristics or circumstances. The importance of equity, wellbeing and children’s rights is therefore now more prominent, with requirements for HEIs to support their Partner schools’ whole-school approach to emotional and mental wellbeing. This sits alongside updated expectations for supporting learners with ALN and the need to ensure that all teaching practices are antiracist and ensure equity within the diverse learning environments in Wales.
The ‘Criteria for the accreditation of Initial Teacher Education programmes in Wales’ is a vital aspect of my commitment to our national mission for education in Wales. It provides the intellectual framework that requires and balances innovative, evidence informed approaches, for high quality, consistent provision for student teachers. This enables our new teachers to be ready to enter the teaching profession and provide immediate support for children and young people’s educational attainment and wellbeing.
ITE Partnerships requiring reaccreditation ready for delivery in September 2024 will utilise the new Criteria for their submission of programmes for accreditation to the EWC’s Teacher Education Accreditation Board from this Autumn. ITE Partnerships are also welcome to develop new and innovative ITE programmes under the Criteria.
Building on the findings from stakeholders and the consultation, we will now explore with special schools, ITE Partnerships, and our middle tier partners, whether the current legislative and policy framework for school teacher qualifications is the best it can be. This will have the specific focus of supporting learners with the most profound and complex additional learning needs. I will provide further updates as this work progresses.