The National College for Teaching and Leadership released the provisional allocation of initial teacher training (ITT) places for the 2014-15 academic year today. Analysis by the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) showed that the total core - undergraduate and postgraduate - allocations at higher education institutions dropped around 14.5 per cent from the final 2013-14 figures, falling from 26,790 to 22,900. Core postgraduate allocations went down by over 3,800, a 19 per cent decrease.
At the same time, the number of allocations to School Direct went up to 15,400 - a 12 per cent leap in the scheme’s share of places. School Direct now accounts for over a third of total allocations up from a quarter last year. The allocation is made the National College for Teaching and Leadership, which is an arm of the Department for Education.
Michael Gunn, vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University and chair of Million+ - whose membership covers a number of post-1992 universities - said: “The decision by ministers to transfer over 15,000 teacher education places from universities to the Government’s School Direct programme will threaten the viability of initial teacher training courses and education departments in universities and undermine teacher supply in the regions.
“In all high performing countries the role of universities in training teachers and ensuring they have academic and professional qualifications which combine study and practical classroom experience is highly valued.
“The government has now adopted an ideological approach to teacher education which disregards the evidence. There was massive under-recruitment of School Direct places in 2013-14 and confusion among applicants. There is no reason to believe that this situation will improve next year.”
James Noble-Rogers, executive director of UCET, said that while universities have been engaging with School Direct and trying to make it a success, he had been calling for a “more measured approach in order to protect the teacher education infrastructure and ensure a proper supply of teachers”.
“That would have meant, at best, only a modest expansion of School Direct from its current share of 25 per cent [of all places],” he said. “Increasing that to 37 per cent is significantly more than we feel confident with.”