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FAQs for overseas trained teachers (OTT)

1) What is the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme?

The Overseas Trained Teacher Programme (OTTP) is an employment-based route to gaining Qualified Teacher Status. The Cambridge Partnership OTTP is one of several such training programmes run by accredited bodies throughout the country. All tutors on The Cambridge Partnership OTTP are qualified and experienced Initial Teacher Training tutors and assessors working with The Cambridge Partnership.

The handbook explains to you the training policy of The Cambridge Partnership.

The Cambridge Partnership has a well-established framework for training which has the flexibility to meet individual needs within a coordinated approach.

The application - training - assessment process is structured within the cycle of the academic year. Selection begins with the submission of a completed application form. (Normally training would be completed within the academic year that it started.)

2) Will all teachers receive the same training?

Overseas Trained Teachers are not viewed as a homogenous group since they have widely different backgrounds and teaching experience. It follows that the training requirements and length of training to gain Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) will vary significantly. Some applicants will also be able to demonstrate evidence to allow for 'exemption from induction' and then not be required to undertake an NQT year. This is explained more fully in Question 20.

Some elements are common to the programmes devised for every OTT and are mandatory:
  • two days experience in a primary school
  • one day of experience in a special school
  • ten days experience in a contrasting secondary school
(these may be modified on an individual basis to reflect recent, relevant experience)

3) Do all applicants follow the same route to reach QTS?

The length of programme is determined individually with OTTs working in different contexts. Secondary school OTTs will need to have a specialism and in all cases OTTs will be required to have teaching experience and competence in two consecutive Key Stages. These are usually KS3 and 4, or KS4 and 5.

A successful middle school applicant has to meet both primary and secondary expectations and we do not recommend OTTs applying for QTS in Key Stages 2 and 3 together for this middle school approach is particularly challenging. The Partnership might accept a middle school teacher who is supported to work in their subject across KS4.

4) Is the Programme only available for those teaching in Cambridgeshire?

No, The Cambridge Partnership focuses mainly but not exclusively upon Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Peterborough local authorities. We are prepared, however, to consider applicants from further afield subject to the feasibility of The Cambridge Partnership staff being able to make the requisite visits during the programme. All applicants must provide evidence of the necessary qualifications and prior experience and their schools must demonstrate that they offer suitable environments for training. A final judgment about suitability for the programme is made at an initial needs assessment/preliminary visit made by a Partnership tutor.

5) What does an applicant need to consider before applying?

When the application form is received by the Cambridge Partnership, tutors will consider the following before arranging an initial needs assessment/preliminary visit:
  • that the applicant is employed as a teacher by a school
  • the UK NARIC statement of qualification equivalency (see below)
  • qualifications and teacher registration
  • successful completion of the Professional Skills Tests
  • the qualities of the applicant
  • previous experiences of teaching since qualifying abroad
  • quality of their work in schools with the supportive evidence
  • the applicant's teaching timetable
  • subject knowledge and understanding with an ICT capability 
  • the length of time in the UK
  • commitment to staying in the UK when qualified
  • the strength of the schools' stated commitment to the trainee
  • the school's capacity to train and to provide a mentor
  • the availability of a second school experience

6) Which prior qualifications are recognised and required?

Prior to applying applicants should consult NARIC about the suitability of their qualifications. (National Academic Recognition Information Centre, UK NARIC, www.naric.org.uk, telephone number: 0870 990 4088)

Those wishing to be accepted on the programme must have GCSE grade C or above in mathematics and English, or their equivalency, a recognised degree and teacher training qualifications. Degrees must be comparable to those accepted by NARIC as equivalent to a British degree. There can be no flexibility about this. NARIC letters confirming equivalency must accompany every application form.

Applicants will also be required to show evidence of their Teacher's Registration from their own country and that they have had a CRB check instigated by their own school.

The Cambridge Partnership will provide a 'subject knowledge and understanding' assessment by a visiting subject specialist in order to assess and confirm the OTT's subject knowledge.

7) What previous experience in teaching will be considered?

Applicants must be aware of the context and content of education in England. This includes the different curriculum structures and strategies, the whole school issues which impinge upon and direct the work of the teacher in school and classroom as well as the teaching philosophies which underpin these requirements. Applicants are urged to look at the teachers' standards with their mentors before the preliminary visit from their allocated tutor.

Applicants must have demonstrable success whilst teaching across a minimum of two key stages, with additional awareness of the ones before and after.

It is not possible to demonstrate this breadth whilst working only in a special school. Even if there is documented evidence from previous employment that is cross referenced to the standards, these applicants may require further time in a mainstream school.

Teachers employed in a middle school must meet the standards applying to both key stage 2 and key stage 3. The latter is a more difficult route (see 3 above).

There are several areas where OTTs may lack the necessary background and experience in this country. These may include knowledge and understanding of the National Curriculum requirements, differentiation in their teaching and classroom management as well as other contextual matters such as PSHE, Citizenship, formal assessment arrangements, ICT expectations, SEND programmes or a second school experience. In these cases an Individual Training Plan should help applicants to reach the required standards before their final assessment. As mentioned above, all aspects of assessment are against the teachers' standards. 

8) How long does this programme take?
This is an impossible question to answer! Based upon prior experience, both at home and in England, it could be a fairly short process. Most people take approximately two terms, some a little less, some a little more. Each applicant is individually assessed, each employing school different, and each programme personally developed. These issues will be discussed at the initial needs assessment/preliminary school visit. The maximum permissible time for the programme is twelve months from the initial offer of a place.

9) Are primary school teachers eligible for this programme?

No. The Cambridge Partnership is a dedicated provider of training and assessment for applicants from the secondary phase.

10) Are there programmes for teachers in special schools?

Over recent years several Overseas Trained Teachers working in special schools have achieved QTS with The Cambridge Partnership. Each teacher has had a training programme written to meet their individual needs. Suitability will be decided on receipt of the application form or at the preliminary school visit. One of the main difficulties is that the age bands in special schools are sometimes different from those in mainstream schools. Another difficulty is the need for the OTT to be assessed as competent in a mainstream class, thus significant release from their current employment may be necessary, however considerable prior experience in a mainstream school may make this requirement less demanding.

11) What happens at the initial needs assessment?

The first visit of a Cambridge Partnership assessor to the school is to complete an Initial Needs Assessment (INA). The purpose of this visit is to assess for programme suitability and to commence the planning process. This stage includes decisions with regard to teachers being assessed for 'Qualified Teacher Status' or 'Qualified Teacher Status with exemption from induction'.

The visit, lasting about four hours will include:
  • An identity check, two pieces of ID, one with a photograph, and marriage certificate for married women
  • observation of teaching with feedback.
  • discussion with the applicant about comparative qualifications and teaching experiences.
  • scrutiny of evidence including originals of qualifications and relevant personal documents
  • discussions with school personnel (including the nominated school mentor)
  • discussions about the assessment criteria
  • the report created following this visit will make clear what has to be done to prepare for the final assessment
The Cambridge Partnership will then create an individual training plan, and the school then ensures implementation of the training plan (as required). The individual training plan will include reference to all unmet training standards that need addressing.

12) What happens at the final assessment?

All OTTs must present evidence of success against all of the standards for Qualified Teacher Status at this assessment. This is usually compiled with the support of the mentor and professional tutor within school.

13) What kind of support is available?

As a member of staff in a school you will be able to seek advice and support from colleagues. This will include the professional tutor or school coordinator, your mentor and others with whom you work on a daily basis. Wider support is also available from The Cambridge Partnership. This is primarily through your visiting tutor. He or she will meet you first for the Initial Assessment and, may make further visits to observe lessons, provide feedback and discuss progress towards the final assessment. He/she is also available as a reference point for the programme.

The individual training plan (ITP) may include provision for up to two tutor visits, in addition to the preliminary visit. These lead to a final assessment in school which is normally completed by the same Partnership tutor who undertook the initial assessment. It is part of the purpose of the initial assessment to determine the details of the training requirements and to set a timescale for it.

It is important that all OTTs have an experienced colleague, acting as their mentor, to support professional development and to steer them through the complexities of the new situation. The school is expected to ensure that the appropriate level of subject specialist support is provided for the OTT. The mentor should also offer feedback based on observation of the OTT's classroom teaching. The Cambridge Partnership expects a mentor to be identified on the application form.

14) Is supply cover available for the Training Programme to be achieved?

The training programme will require the trainee to visit other schools, shadow other teachers or attend particular courses. The Cambridge Partnership does not provide financial support to fund supply cover to facilitate these activities. This may be provided as part of the school's support.

15) How is progress assessed?

The Cambridge Partnership sets the assessment into the context of a teacher's professional development. Final assessment of the OTT is usually made by the person who conducted the initial assessment. Whilst seeking evidence in relation to all Teachers' Standards, having previously recognised successes against some of the standards, the final assessment will relate particularly to the achievement of the individually agreed training targets in relation to these professional standards. However, the subject specialist visit, developmental meetings or additional visits during the programme may also contribute to the process.

16) What is an Individual Training Plan?

The Individual Training Plan (ITP) is essential. It enables many OTTs to meet the requirements for gaining the award of Qualified Teacher Status. At the initial assessment visit the Cambridge Partnership tutor will have worked with the applicant to identify their training needs and written them into the ITP. This analysis of training and learning needs is directly linked to the standards for Qualified Teacher Status and is the essential framework of the training programme. It is individually focused and relates directly to the OTT's prior experiences.

This record, made at the start of the programme, should be viewed as a working document and one that needs to be developed and adapted as individual elements are completed and the evidence gathered.

The function of an individual training plan is to:
  • identify those standards where the evidence for achievement still needs to be collected. This is often true of those standards which related directly to the English education system, or to specific aspects of the National Curriculum in this country.
  • provide mentoring support from a designated colleague with considerable curricular experience in your specialist teaching subject and/or phase.
  • give OTTs the opportunity to observe colleagues teaching and to reflect on how effective learning takes place in their lessons. The OTT may also need to visit other schools to observe teaching and learning at other Key Stages before or after those for which the trainee is being assessed.
  • set aside time for the OTT to reflect on their teaching styles and to engage in some appropriate reading.
  • broaden the educational perspectives of the OTT
  • provide a focus on preparing for the final assessment.
17) How should the portfolio of evidence be compiled?

OTTs need to compile a portfolio of evidence which will show that they meet ALL the teachers' standards for QTS. If they are seeking 'Exemption from Induction' at the same time, the evidence provided must show appropriate depth to warrant that award.

The gathering of evidence should not be seen as an additional task but as part of the normal teaching work. Extensive photocopying should be avoided and there is no need to replicate documents that already exist in other files. Cross referencing is strongly recommended. All OTTs are be encouraged to generate an e-portfolio.

The portfolio of evidence should be used as an audit to show that each standard has been met. A copy of the standards can be used as an index to ensure that each standard has been addressed.

If completing a paper based portfolio it is advisable to provide a cover sheet for each standard. Single sheets which give evidence of the standard should be placed behind the appropriate cover sheet. Evidence for the location of a particular standard may also be written on the cover-sheet e.g. 'Standard TS3.1 - see also my personal planner.'

The Cambridge Partnership will provide a a range of documents and tools to assist trainees in the compilation of their portfolio of evidence.

18) What counts as evidence?

The final assessment will look at your broad and detailed achievement of the training standards, as applied to all newly qualified teachers in England. Given that OTTs are already qualified, we would hope to see success in the classroom at the start. The portfolio of evidence should contain evidence against all of the standards. This may include planning documents, lesson observations, pupil records, references or testimonials or a range of other written materials to support achievements.

Evidence of previous employment can be included within the portfolio, as well as courses and experience and a log of all activity undertaken in their current post.

All applicants will be given individual advice on the location and type of evidence required

19) What are the 'Professional Skills Tests'?

The governmemt requires that all those seeking QTS should successfully complete two professional skills tests (literacy & numeracy). Full details can be found on the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) website.

We have received the following clarification from the Skills Tests / Supply & Recruitment Division of the Teaching Agency
"Anyone who starts an Initial Teacher Training course from academic year 2013/14 must pass the skills tests before they start the course, irrespective of how they are funded. As with all other applicants they can book an appointment a few weeks in advance of submitting an application to ensure they secure a convenient appointment. However, they must have submitted the application prior to taking the test. They will need to take evidence of the application to the test centre when they take the tests. The school and/training provider will be able to access their results by searching for their surname and date of birth".

Tests can be booked by registering online via the DfE website, www.education.gov.uk/teachskillstests. Applicants do not need a reference number to apply but they will be given a skills tests reference number when they register which should be kept for their own records.

There are restrictions on the number of occasions these professional skills tests may be attempted - one test and two re-sits. If either the maths or the English tests are not achieved after the two allowed re-sits, no further tests can be taken for 24 months following the most recent attempt. Both tests must be completed before assessment can take place. OTTs will need to have a copy of the results for the assessing tutor. Separate results are issued at the test centre when tests are passed.

20) What is 'Exemption from Induction' and who is eligible for this award?

Candidates who are seeking 'Exemption from Induction' will need to compile compelling evidence to demonstrate to their employing school and to the The Cambridge Partnership assessor that they can be exempted from the NQT year.

The assessment for Exemption from Induction follows a similar process to that for QTS and will normally be completed at the same time as the assessment for QTS.

The assessment may involve a further observation of a lesson or part of a lesson, as well as:
  • consultation with senior staff of the school who can give evidence of attainment
  • an additional discussion with the OTT
  • a scrutiny of the portfolio.
Ideally OTTs should follow the induction programme their school organises for new staff. An outline of this provision, and the candidate's participation in it should be in the portfolio of evidence.

Additional evidence that shows the induction standards have been met might include:
  • notes from discussions with the SENCO and other staff with specific responsibilities in the school
  • written materials which show work or communication with parents and carers to support the learning of their children
  • assessment records completed on children's attainments
  • records of continuing professional development
  • personal records relating to particular pupil behaviour issues
  • written comments from tutor/mentor of working together to manage behaviour in the classroom more successfully.
It is always helpful to gain supportive testimonials from appropriate colleagues and to include these within the 'Induction' section of the portfolio.

22) Where can I find the Teachers' Standards?

Please click here for The Teachers' Standards section of the DfE website.