ITE Reports: Just Like Busses?

I have a problem with the Carter review – if you know me you will have noticed – however whenever anyone mentions the ‘Carter review’ as some form of justification to do something I tend to simply just glaze over. From that point on I can’t take the point being made on board as to use ‘Carter’ merely illustrates they may not fully understand the true nature of the report. Whilst all the people on the Carter review are probably very nice people (one is even a colleague) the report was doomed to insignificance before it even started given its timing and lack of independence. Indeed the ATL union captured the Carter review nicely with:

It’s very worrying that direct engagement with the profession and stakeholders has been so limited. Starting a 5-week consultation during the end of the summer holidays and start of the new academic/school year betrays a lack of independence and a lack of willingness to listen to and engage with views (ATL, September 2014).

Ultimately the review was the equivalent of locking the stable door long after the horse was made in to dog food. It was a full stop on the end of Gove’s sentence of attempting to dismantle HEIs grip on teacher education. The review was neither systematic, critical, informed nor independent. Perhaps the best evidence of this were the predictable recommendations which were neither ambitious or aspirational and which resulted in the three latest reports – which in case you missed them were:

Like many I had been waiting for a long time for the three reports to surface. Sadly however when they did arrive I simply found them hugely disappointing. Perhaps unfairly I tweeted “ Government ITT reports are like busses. You wait ages for one to come along – three arrive at once and all mostly empty! Opportunity missed!”



Now I say ‘perhaps unfairly’ as there probably is something in each of the reports of some value. Nonetheless at a time of increased fragmentation and diversification of routes in teacher education there has to be something to elevate the variability of expectations within ITE.

My main concern is that the three reports are low on ambition and also skew teacher education towards an overly simplistic form of training (this may have been the aim) rather than encourage a critically reflexive approach to teacher education.

Ironically one of the recommendations in the framework of content (page 16 (even though the report doesn’t appear to have page numbers?)) is about emphasising the increased use of evidence yet none of the reports seemed to be particularly informed through systematic enquiry drawing upon a breadth of evidence? Did any of the report teams care to cast an eye to international evidence and research? Perhaps even having a look at Scotland (Donaldson review) or Wales (Furlong review) would have elevated the quality and ambition of the reports.

Conceivably if the three reports can be referenced as a minimum baseline for the increasing number of new providers then perhaps they will have some value. Equally perhaps the emergence of some shared language will also prove useful over time. However whether this was a lack of ambition on behalf of the authors or the result of DfE machinations these benign reports represent a lost opportunity.