Published on 27 July 2023
Education providers from all corners of the globe will be welcoming the very first University of Sunderland graduates of a new high-quality teacher training qualification into their classrooms.
Sunderland was announced as one of only six UK providers for the prestigious pilot scheme last year, to create the next generation of international teachers.
The UK government-backed international Qualified Teacher Status (iQTS), is recognised by the Department for Education, as equivalent to English Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). Created in response to the global teacher recruitment and retention crisis, the qualification aims to stabilise a significant threat to international education systems.
The very first diverse cohort of teachers, 17 Primary and 20 Secondary school trainees, have now graduated from the University’s PGCE iQTS programme, the largest provider in the UK.
Two of those graduates, Priya Lalwani from the United Arab Emirates, and Shubha Kutty from Bahrain, travelled hundreds of miles from their native countries to collect their certificates in person during the Summer Graduation Ceremonies this month, which recognised their dedication and hard work.
Priya said: “The iQTS training programme has been a transformative journey that has not only got me two qualifications but has shaped me into a more empathetic educator.
“The knowledge, skills and practical experiences gained have fostered and reinforced a genuine passion for education and the strive and desire to make a long-lasting difference.”
Shubha added: “Education is a lifelong journey, and this programme lays the foundation for ongoing professional development.
“It has equipped me with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to become an effective and competent educator. It gave me a solid foundation of pedagogical knowledge and teaching techniques.
“Through practical teaching experience and exposure to real classroom settings, it helped build confidence in my abilities, I feel more prepared to handle the challenges of teaching and I am ready to embark on my teaching career.”
Professor Lynne McKenna MBE, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at Sunderland, has played a pivotal role in shaping the structure and values of the qualification, as part of the Department for Education (DfE) Expert Working Group, working with colleagues in both the UK and overseas to develop iQTS.
She says: “The graduation ceremony was a fitting culmination of the hard work, dedication and resilience of our 2022 iQTS cohort and the team. What a fantastic achievement.”
The University of Sunderland was chosen as a pilot provider, due to its 24 years’ experience of training teachers in the international sector through its innovative distance learning provision and a commitment to providing our PGCE iQTS students working and training across the world with the same provision as our home PGCE QTS students therefore guaranteeing quality and parity. The course not only provides students with a world recognized teaching qualification, it also provides a full PGCE.
From September 2023, there will now be 15 UK-based providers of iQTS, with Sunderland the largest provider, expecting to train between 100-150 students through this route.
Lynne, who was awarded an awarded an MBE in the King’s Birthday Honours list just last month for her services to education, explained: “As the largest pilot provider of iQTS, we built upon the long-established experience of distance learning already existing within the International Initial Teacher Training (IITT) team. So much of this knowledge has been gained longitudinally and the historic iQTS journey commenced long before we were approved as one of six pilot providers.”
She added: “This new qualification is proving attractive to the international schools’ sector. It is intended to support schools outside the UK to recruit, retain and develop local talent and increase the pool of quality teachers and support global mobility within the teaching profession.
“For international school leaders, investing in the new iQTS qualification for staff and prospective staff in international schools demonstrates a commitment to retaining and valuing staff and an investment in the qualification itself.
“We know that staff who are offered the opportunity to achieve qualifications and to continue with their professional development are more likely to stay in the profession.”
Based upon a combination of theory and team research, the academic programme of study includes innovative and creative approaches, taking into account the diverse needs of all learners and adopting a holistic pedagogical approach. Through purposeful integration across all modules, all trainees are provided with opportunities to apply theory into practice and reflect on the impact based on their own lived experiences.
High value is placed on developing not only the knowledge skills of trainees but also, on developing the holistic competencies, the ‘soft skills’, which are essential to succeed in 21st century society and extend our University of Sunderland iQTS graduates beyond the iQTS Teachers’ Standards.
For more information about the University’s PGCE iQTS programme click here.