MPs have been warned that the government’s School Direct programme has ‘broken down’, risking a crisis in the teaching workforce in English schools.
The DfE switched about 9,000 teacher training places from universities to schools under its School Direct programme, but by this July schools had accepted only 5,000 trainees, the BBC reports.
Pam Tatlow, chief executive of million+, a think tank that represents newer universities, warned the Education Select Committee that School Direct had been 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 said, “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.”
A DfE spokeswoman said the programme was “extremely popular” and that it was “a response to what schools told us they wanted, a greater role in selecting and recruiting trainees with potential to be outstanding teachers”.
Ms Tatlow warned that universities may withdraw from teacher training: “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,” she said, “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.” She recommended that the number of School Direct trainees should be reduced and a national strategy agreed to “bring some stability and common sense back into the system”.
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