Teacher training warning to MPs

The system of planning teacher training in England has “broken down”, risking a teacher shortage in the future, MPs have been warned.

July 29, 2013

In written evidence to the Education Select Committee, Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+, which represents a number of post-1992 universities, says the government’s School Direct programme, the new policy for teacher recruitment, was introduced without any “robust assessment of its impact on teacher supply”.

“Ministers say that schools should lead the commissioning of teacher training but it is clear that this will not guarantee the number of trained teachers that will be needed by schools across the country in the future,” she says.

“By the end of next year, 3,000 fewer teachers are likely to have been trained risking a crisis in teacher recruitment at the very time that the school population is rising.”

Under School Direct, 9,000 teacher training places were transferred from universities to schools in 2012-13 with an expectation that schools would recruit teachers to commence training in September 2013.

However, it is estimated that just under half of these places were unfilled with many places vacant in specialist subjects like maths where there is already a teaching shortage.  

Ms Tatlow says that universities that have run successful teacher training programmes to enhance prospective teachers’ skills in these specialist subjects were, in turn, not being allocated numbers.

She adds that the combined impact of the new Ofsted inspection regime – under which fewer schools are being given “outstanding” ratings - new rules that debar “good” university training providers from having guarantees of trainees and the move of places to schools that are not filling them, has created a “triple whammy.”

“As a result the national system for planning and delivering an adequate number of qualified and trained teachers has broken down,” she says.

“Universities which have been at the heart of high quality teacher training are being side-lined and expected to take all the risks with no guarantee of training numbers. This is clearly untenable.

“MPs should be very concerned that well-regarded higher education providers will pull the plug on teacher training altogether because of the uncertainty that has been created.”

Ms Tatlow recommends that School Direct numbers should be reduced and a national strategy agreed to “bring some stability and common-sense” back into the system.

john.elmes@tsleducation.com

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