Cultural Learning Alliance

My daughter was one of the performers. She is having a very difficult time at school at the moment; yesterday I saw her self-esteem grow as she walked through the stage door for the company warm-up. I wept

Parent of participant in one of The Sage Gateshead’s youth programmes


Carter Review of Initial Teacher Training is published

Published 29 January 2015

In April 2014 Sir Andrew Carter was asked by the Department of Education to review initial teacher training (ITT). The CLA submitted evidence to the Review and were very interested to read Sir Andrew’s report and the government’s response – published on 19 January.


What’s good about it?

The Review identifies:

  • the importance of schools and universities working in partnership to train teachers, regardless of who takes the lead;
  • the importance of subject knowledge for trainees. It also clearly recognises that universities are well placed to provide access to high quality expertise in this area;
  • that initial training must be linked to excellent on-going professional development;
  • that mentoring can offer excellent benefits to the training process;
  • the fact that trainees are more likely to lack subject knowledge, experience and confidence in music at primary level;
  • that teachers should have a good understanding of the pedagogy and practice associated with other subjects – leading to better cross-disciplinary practice.

Carter makes a number of recommendations that might be useful in improving teacher training in arts and cultural disciplines, notably:

  • the development of a framework for the core content for ITT;
  • directing trainees towards subject communities and networks, as well as resources from subject associations;
  • a call for the creation of a portal database of research into effective teaching practice in each subject, and a database of different assessment models and methodologies;
  • a call for universities to create final year ‘bridge modules’ between their subjects and ITT;
  • funded, in-service subject-knowledge enhancement courses for primary teachers;
  • that professional development should be specifically tailored to address this knowledge gap in primary music teaching.


What’s missing?

We are disappointed to see that:

  • music was the only arts subject that was individually recognised in the report. There is no specific mention of the need for further specialist training for art & design, dance or drama;
  • the partnership recommendations don’t include wider partners like Music Hubs or specialist subject associations;
  • there is no mention of careers advice and the need for teachers to understand where to go for good guidance and information on cultural and creative careers;
  • the Review doesn’t mention the further development of specialist teaching schools for cultural learning – something we believe would be of real benefit.


What has the government said?

Government has broadly welcomed the report, and in its response has flagged up its current consultation on the formation of a new ‘College of Teaching’ body, which will take over a great deal of this agenda. The response also flags up the research and the resources of the Education Endowment Fund (EEF). Disappointingly, the government response does not address the Review’s recommendations on music.

We look forward to seeing how this report and the commitments made in the government’s response are taken forward. Let us know your thoughts.



The omission of specialist drama teaching needs to be addressed. There are elements within the recommendations which drama specialists, national drama associations and HE could address collectively: subject - specific pedagogy; subject knowledge as an essential element of professional development; relevant ITT modules in Year 3 undergraduate courses. This is an opportunity for drama practitioners and academics to outline a coherent vision of drama education at all levels.
Geoff Readman 30 January 2015

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