University teacher training places cut

Universities have suffered a cut in initial teacher training (ITT) places as the government continues to expand its Schools Direct policy

October 14, 2014

In its first statistical release of ITT places for the 2015-16 academic year, the National College for Teaching and Leadership has allocated 22,244 places to higher education institutions, down from 23,095 for the 2014-15 academic year.

In contrast, School Direct – where places are allocated to schools to employ trainees – has seen its allocation rise from 15,254 to 17,609.

It means that universities’ share of a total 43,516 ITT allocations has reduced by just over 5 per cent, while School Direct’s has risen by more than 3 per cent. Higher education institutions have seen a 3.7 per cent reduction in places while School Direct has seen an increase in allocations of over 15 per cent.

“An increase in School Direct numbers makes little sense when [the National College for Teaching and Leadership] has acknowledged that schools do not fill their places or recruit trainee teachers as well as universities,” said Pam Tatlow, chief executive of the university thinktank Million+.

“It seems that yet again ideology has got in the way of common sense and that the get-out-of-jail card is the allocation of more ITT places than are required.

“This is hardly a robust approach to the serious business of ensuring that schools and students have the high-quality teachers that they will require in the future.”

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers, said the higher education sector “overall can work with these allocations”, despite the necessity to “look carefully” at the impact on individual institutions and regions.

“Universities have long been calling for greater school involvement in, and ownership of, initial teacher education and are supportive of the philosophy of schools-focussed training,” Mr Noble-Rogers said.

“It should however be recognised that programmes delivered using core places allocated to HEIs can be at least as schools-led as those allocated via SCITTs or School Direct.

“Care must be taken to retain the infrastructure we need to supply some 40,000 new teachers to schools, and to give schools a choice about which forms of teacher education they participate in.”

john.elmes@tesglobal.com

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