As we approach the summer term, schools start to think about filling positions for September. It therefore may be helpful to be entirely clear about the current qualified teacher requirements and the differences between the maintained sector and in academies. Little stands still and so we also cover how this might change in the future.
At present in order to teach in a maintained school in England, you need qualified teacher status (QTS). The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is currently responsible for awarding QTS. When a trainee teacher finishes his/her training, the initial teacher training provider informs NCTL of the individual’s results. If successful, NCTL awards the individual QTS. Once the individual has been awarded QTS, there is a statutory induction programme.
The length of the induction period is generally one school year (i.e. three terms). The Teachers’ Standards are used to assess a newly qualified teacher’s (NQT) performance at the end of their induction period. Subject to some exemptions, an NQT cannot be employed as a teacher in a maintained school unless they have satisfactorily completed an induction period. An NQT only has one chance to complete statutory induction. There are special arrangements for overseas qualified teachers.
In contrast, an academy under the current model funding agreement can “employ anyone it believes is suitably qualified or is otherwise eligible”. This also applies to academies with funding agreements based on July 2012 or subsequent models (and where an academy has an older funding agreement which still includes the requirement for QTS, DfE guidance indicates they may agree to relax the requirement). An exception is that in all state-funded schools, including academies, special educational needs coordinators and designated teachers for looked after children must have QTS. All teachers in special academies must hold QTS. (It may be possible to serve an induction period in an academy).
On 15 December 2017, the DfE launched a consultation setting out its initial proposals for a strengthened QTS. These include:
- An extended two year induction period with QTS awarded at the end;
- Development of a structured early career content framework setting out what all teachers need to know and areas for development; and
- A stronger mentoring provision for new teachers.
The consultation also sets out proposals on how to support career development for teachers once they have gained QTS.
The consultation closed on 9 March 2018 and the results of the consultation and the government’s response are due to be published by summer 2018.
The NCTL will cease to function in April 2018 and its staff will instead form a new body, the Teaching Regulation Agency, within the DfE, which will begin to operate from April 2018. The responsibility for awarding QTS and teacher recruitment will be passed over to that agency. Teacher training providers will need to ensure from this point onwards that they inform the relevant department in the DfE of trainee teacher’s results. An exact date in April is yet to be announced.