Many countries have accreditation systems for higher education programmes, including ITE programmes, to monitor and ensure their quality (OECD, 2008). Although, the impact of accountability levers such as accreditation on teacher quality and effectiveness is inconclusive, they can strongly influence the way ITE providers plan and implement their programmes (Allen, 2005; National Research Council, 2010).
Following Furlong’s 2015 review of initial teacher training in Wales, the Welsh Government developednew criteria for accrediting ITE programmes to improve the quality and consistency of ITE provision. Since 2017 all new and existing ITE programmes in Wales must be accredited by the Education Workforce Council (EWC) according to three sets of criteria (Welsh Government, 2018):
The alignment of programme outcomes with the professional teaching and learning standards.
In order to be accredited, programmes are required to designate a number of ‘lead partnership schools’. These schools contribute to the leadership and management of the programme, including the design and content of the programme, the selection of students, and quality assurance and evaluation of the programme.
One fundamental criteria is to enable teachers to develop research knowledge and skills, both as consumers of research and as participants in it. Partnerships are required to evidence how higher education institution teaching staff are supported to be research active and to show how their research will inform the development of their ITE programmes. The new Welsh ITE accreditation criteria specify the following routes to developing teacher educator capacity in higher education institutions (Welsh Government, 2018):
Institutions are required to present programme details for accreditation, including the conceptual framework, course aims, course design and areas of study, entry requirements and selection procedures, assessment of student teachers and mandatory topics (such as professional and pedagogical studies, subject studies, wellbeing, school experience). The accreditation guidelines expect that research-informed practices are included in several areas of the ITE programme. For example, the programme should be supported by a clearly articulated conceptual framework informed by values, principles and research. The course aims should include the preparation of teachers who engage actively with educational research. In addition to requiring programmes to draw on research to develop student teachers’ professional knowledge, the Welsh accreditation guidelines also require ITE programmes to explicitly develop student teachers’ research skills. In particular, these guidelines encourage the support of professional enquiry in the development of effective practice and the use of action research projects to assess student teachers.
Based on the accreditation guidelines, ITE programmes must produce teachers who can achieve the award of Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) according to the Welsh Government’s professional standards for teaching and leadership. These standards identify the requirements for entry into the profession and comprise five essential elements of teacher’s work: pedagogy; collaboration; innovation; professional learning; and leadership. Understanding research and applying it in practice is a key component of the professional learning element of the standards (Welsh Government, 2017). Consequently, ITE programmes must include how they consider, understand and assess student teachers in light of the requirements to gain the QTS.
The OECD Review Team in its visit to Wales from 15-17 March 2018 concluded that ITE programme accreditation is a strength in that it:
Strongly engages stakeholders in the reform process. The Welsh Government convened a Teacher Education Accreditation Group to develop and consult on the draft accreditation criteria. Stakeholders across the board expressed a strong desire to improve current practice and a willingness to change.
The OECD Review Team in its visit to Wales from 15-17 March 2018noted that there is:
A risk of getting the wrong balance between accountability and innovation. Too much central control in relation to the implementation of the accreditation guidelines can stifle local innovation and the ability for institutions to act on feedback from their partner schools. The Welsh Government must balance its role as an accreditor and its role in building capacity and helping institutions continuously improve. Productive accountability mechanisms encourage the development of organisational policies and practices related to continuous ITE programme improvement. (Peck and Davis, 2018)
Allen, M. (2005), Eight Questions on Teacher Recruitment and Retention: What Does the Research Say?, http://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED489332. 
National Research Council, U. (2010), Preparing teachers: Building evidence for sound policy. 
OECD (2008), Tertiary Education for the Knowledge Society: Volume 1 and Volume 2, OECD Reviews of Tertiary Education, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264046535-en. 
Peck, C. and S. Davis (2018), “Building Capacity and Commitment for Data Use in Teacher Education Programs”, in Mandinach, E. and E. Gummer (eds.), Data for Continuous Programmatic Improvement: Steps Colleges of Education Must Take to Become a Data Culture, Routledge, London. 
Welsh Government (2018), Criteria for the accreditation of initial teacher education programmes in Wales – Teaching tomorrow’s teachers, Welsh Government, Cardiff, http://learning.gov.wales/docs/learningwales/publications/170310-accreditation-criteria-for-initial-teacher-education-en-v4.pdf. 
Welsh Government (2017), Professional standards for teaching and leadership, http://learning.gov.wales/docs/learningwales/publications/170901-professional-standards-for-teaching-and-leadership-en.pdf. 
This case study describes a “promising practice” drawn from an OECD review of initial teacher preparation in the United States from 25-28 October 2016.
The OECD Review Team identified a number of “promising practices” in each country. These practices may not be widespread or representative, but seen in the context of other challenges, they represent a strength or opportunity to improve the country’s initial teacher preparation system – and for other countries to learn from them.
This work is published under the responsibility of the Secretary-General of the OECD. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of OECD member countries.
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