ASCL responds to guidance on the involvement of special schools in Initial Teacher Training

Margaret Mulholland, SEND and Inclusion Specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, responds to the publication of non-statutory guidance from the Department for Education, designed to help accredited Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers to involve special schools in their ITT partnerships.
“We welcome the publication of this guidance, which we hope will encourage the greater use of special schools as host schools for teacher training. There are a huge number of benefits and opportunities for trainee teachers who spend time in special schools, regardless of whether they continue working in that part of the sector in the long term. Training in special schools helps develop teachers who can support children who have identified special needs, but also enables them to deliver inclusive teaching and help any pupils who face barriers to learning. None of this will come as news to those who have trained in special schools in recent years, as this is a process that already works well, but we hope this guidance can dispel any lingering misconceptions and encourage greater involvement of special schools in ITT. 
“There is a huge recruitment and retention crisis in education, and special schools are impacted particularly severely due to the higher staff to pupil ratio that is required. If more special schools are used as hosts for teacher training, this should encourage recruitment to this sector as well as better equipping teachers to deal with the growing challenges in mainstream education following the pandemic. But these benefits will only come to fruition if the government actually meets its ITT targets. Last year only 59% of secondary teachers and 93% of primary teachers were recruited compared to target figures. The government must reverse the decade of real-terms pay cuts and address insufficient school funding and the impact this has had on staff workload in order to make teaching a more attractive proposition to today’s graduates.”