Shortage of teachers ‘inevitable’, says ISM on Initial Teacher Training review

Harriet Clifford
Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Among the music subject association’s other concerns is that some trainees may not experience any music teaching during their intensive practice placement.

Monkey Business

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) has responded to the public consultation into the government’s Initial Teacher Training (ITT) market review, expressing concerns over a lack of subject-specific development and an 'acute' shortage of music teachers if the recommendations go ahead.

Closing on 22 August, the consultation aimed to gather views on the recommendations made in the ITT market review report, which was published by the Department for Education (DfE) in July. 

Since publication, the report has been met with criticism from across the education sector, including from at least 30 universities who have threatened to withdraw teacher training. A reduction of trainee places would be ‘particularly acute’ for music, as numbers of trainees on secondary music ITT courses have already fallen considerably since 2008. 

The ISM is also concerned that trainees ‘will not get sufficient time’ to focus on teaching music and other arts, as a result of the recommended ‘intensive practice placements’ of 20 or 30 days. 

As music usually has less time on the curriculum and is sometimes taught on a ‘carousel’, some trainees may miss the subject entirely, which will ‘likely exacerbate an existing problem’ according to the ISM.

The majority of proposals made are generic across all subjects, which the ISM feels could ‘threaten to undermine’ subject specialisms developed by trainees, such as in music. 

Rather than applying blanket rules, the ISM says that the ‘mechanics’ of how effective teaching is delivered should be ‘considered at a subject-specific level’.

Concern has also been raised about the capacity of small ‘overstretched’ music departments to offer ‘high-quality’ mentoring and intensive placements to trainees. 

In a blog post outlining its objections and position, a spokesperson said: ‘The ISM are calling on the government to reconsider these proposals and undertake a thorough, evidence-based review that allows the entire education system to recover and rebuild following the pandemic. 

‘Such a review must enhance and improve the current ITT system, but it is clear from the number of concerned voices that many fear these proposals will have the opposite effect. As cuts to higher education arts courses take effect, it is more important than ever that more great teachers are encouraged into the profession, not fewer.’

A government response to the consultation feedback is expected later this year.