The PTE Holiday Update – Wednesday 18 August

Some of you will still have weeks to go before returning to the fray, and others will be back in a week. Either way, we hope this finds you rested and refreshed after some well-deserved time out.

We’re interrupting our summer silence today in order to cover two important topics: last week’s exam results, and the current consultation on Initial Teacher Training.

Exam results

After all the anticipation, efforts and worries, last Tuesday and Thursday finally saw results published for 18 and 16 year olds.

The students receiving results had studied for these across two academic years unlike any other, with unprecedented disruption to their learning.

We should celebrate the achievements of the young people concerned. They have shown resilience and character over the past 18 months, and can be proud to have made it through with such aplomb.

We should also recognise the hard work and effort of the families and teachers who supported them along the way. The pandemic meant lots of last minute decisions to try and keep the show on the road. It was really difficult to stay on top of things at times, and yet by-and-large people managed it, and our children benefitted massively as a result.

We know that scrapping exams means we can’t make comparisons between these grades and other years. We also know that it isn’t easy to return to how things were pre-pandemic.

Former DfE advisor Sam Freedman has written an excellent paper for the Institute of Government, looking at the various unpalatable options open to us from here. It’s going to be tricky to balance things so as to not disproportionately disadvantage any particular cohort of people over the next few years in terms of getting places at university or the jobs market.

As such, it is vital that the government lets pupils, parents and teachers know as soon as possible what the route map back to rigorous external exams is.

And let’s be clear – even if it takes time, we MUST get back to the kind of setup we had pre-pandemic. Whilst imperfect, it was far fairer and more accurate than what we had to use last summer and this.

There are plenty of people who have long campaigned for the scrapping of GCSEs or exams who are using the pandemic to justify such a move. Even if there was evidence that this would be a better system – and we don’t believe that there is – after the stresses of the past year and a half, and all the reforms of the past decade, now is the worst time to put people through further upheaval.

The focus should instead be on supporting pupils as they settle back into regular schooling or move on to further study or work, and plug the inevitable gaps in experience that will exist due to COVID. Here’s to a return to the boring normal as soon as possible!

Consultation on the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review 

The Department for Education recently published the report from its review of the ITT market. It’s fair to say that the findings and recommendations of the review have sparked quite a bit of a reaction from many providers.

As you’d expect for this sort of thing, there is a consultation on these, and the government is keen to know what people in the school and associated sectors think about things.

You can find the consultation and respond to it by clicking HERE. It’s open until 11:59pm this Sunday (22nd August), and we really encourage you to take a few minutes to do so.

Here at PTE we think that the review manages to both identify the massive strengths in existing teacher training provision AND propose ways to make the sector even stronger in the future.

There is nothing in it for great institutions to fear, and we believe that it will actually enhance their role, and that of schools, in training future generations of teachers.

That said, we do recognise that some have concerns – particularly about the proposed timescale for getting all providers reaccredited. Allowing more time for this so people are assured that the process is both thorough and fair might not be a bad move.

That said – whatever your role or views, we would urge you to take a look at the review and have your say via the consultation.

That’s it from us now until September. Whether you have a few days or a few weeks left before the new term, we hope that the remainder of the holidays are good to you.