Last month, the National College for Teaching and Leadership, the Department for Education agency in charge of teacher supply, issued an update on ITT allocations solely inviting schools and school-centred initial teacher training (Scitt) providers to bid for extra places through its School Direct training scheme.
But in an email to ITT providers, seen by Times Higher Education, sent on February 5, Paul Cohen, deputy director of initial teacher training programmes at the NCTL, has now extended this invitation to higher education institutions.
“In response to feedback, we are inviting you to request extra places earlier in the application cycle than last year to support your strategic planning,” Mr Cohen wrote.
“So, if you have filled, or are close to filling, your allocation in a particular secondary subject and you have evidence from your application data that you have sufficient demand to take on more trainees you can request extra places.
“Requests for any subject will be considered, therefore, on a case by case and first come, first served basis. We are happy to discuss a significantly increased allocation if your application and offer figures warrant it.”
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the Million+ group of universities, who criticised the original update, praised the government’s decision.
“NCTL made the wrong call in January when it excluded universities from the opportunity to bid for additional teacher education numbers for the 2015-16 year,” she said.
“We welcome the fact that ministers have listened to the arguments and amended the policy to ensure that universities are now included.
“The whole episode does beg questions about why NCTL ever thought this was the right decision in the first place.”
James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, said the allocations boost to higher education institutions must be followed by a fair marketing strategy to ensure recruitment to the extra places.
“We welcome the fact that additional places are being allocated earlier in the cycle than last year and that, albeit belatedly, they are being offered to HEIs as well as schools and Scitts,” he said. “The extra places need to be accompanied by a high profile and even-handed marketing campaign to make sure they are filled.
“Recruitment would also be helped if schools, universities and Scitts had the flexibility to swap places at a local level to make sure that prospective teachers can find places on the courses that best meet their needs.”
Mr Cohen added that because allocations for academic year 2016 to 2017 will take into account recruitment performance against this year’s number of initially allocated places, “requesting and filling additional places will enhance any future request for places”.