Teacher training system risks future shortage

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”.

Do you think it was a mistake to move teacher training from universities to the School Direct programme? Share your views with the Eteach community!

12 thoughts on “Teacher training system risks future shortage

  1. I feel that if you are trained in a school you are only going to be as good as that school. Teacher training in universities gives the trainee a chance to view a range of teachers in different schools. This not only gives them the opportunity to get a broader view it offers the trainee a chance to choose what kind of school would suit them best.

  2. I think it was a good idea to give schools more control of who is trained. The idea of a job being available at the end of training is great. However, having just completed my school direct year, achieving good grades and standards, it is extremely frustrating that I have no employment. I totally understand that jobs cannot be created out of thin air, but the fact remains that the school direct website advertises their will be a ‘job in mind, just for you.’ This is clearly not true! I believe the concept is good but schools are jumping on the band wagon as they see the financial benefits of school direct without delivering what they are supposed to. I would be interested to hear of anyone else being in the same position as me.

  3. As a teacher at a secondary school, in our department we have 2 full time trainee teachers and at one time we had 4 trainees during the first school term. This has put a lot of pressure on the department and between supporting the trainees and staying on top of the usual teaching requirements we sometimes feel at breaking point. Also I know we are not giving the trainees the time they need. It would be better for universities to take the time to train the students and decrease the pressure on us. The fact that schools receive money to offer trainee places and that some schools receive trainees as a cheap alternative to a vacant full time teacher position leaves a lot to be desired!

  4. Try again. I can’t believe that they feel there will be a shortage of teachers. As an NQT who has been supply teaching for over 18months due to a job shortage I say yipee! Maybe at last there will be jobs for us. I for one was giving up on the idea of teaching after 6 years of study due to the dire job shortage!

  5. Maybe this will give NQTs the chance to find their first job! As an NQT who is about to give up after 6 years of study and 20 months supply I feel it is welcome news. I can’t believe they talk about a shortage of teachers when thousands are unemployed! I believe they should take a break from training any teachers to give NQTs the chance to find work.

  6. It would be better for the debate if Ms Tatlow could provide greater detail – i.e why are there fewer recruits? what different approach would universities adopt to increase numbers? is this simply down to universities complaining about the money trail?

  7. Thank goodness this has finally started hitting the headlines. It has been very difficult this year working in ITT. My great concern is that schools have been selecting trainees based on very high standards looking for immediate value in the classroom rather than seeking potential value. I am very concerned about how much support they will be able to give schools direct recruits. Also because the government has promoted the schools direct approach above PGCE Higher Education route applications to that system have been very late and many potential trainees have been put off entering the profession by attending schools direct interviews where they were expected to teach whole lessons and have interviews which appeared to not recognize that they were applying for a training rather than a teaching position. I fear we have lost many who given proper training could become outstanding teachers but have instead been lost by a rushed and ill thought through introduction of a system that in the long term cannot provide a sustainable solution to high quality teacher education.
    Schools priority is educating pupils and teacher training based extensively in a school conflicts with this core business. Please let us stop cutting costs in this vital area of our nations future.

  8. As an unemployed male older learner with degree I applied through Schools Direct for a place on the salaried system. After three months with no feedback on the applications I took it upon myself to approach the schools. All said they had no record of my application and it was too late to apply for 2013.

    To fill in the time for the 2014 intake I have completed PTLLS and CTLLS certificates and as yet I still have no place on a Schools Direct teaching qualification.

    I am now of the firm belief that males are not wanted, there appears to be a gender bias be it intentional or not within the teacher training environment and from my experience males appear to be blocked from receiving a placement on the salaried system.

    What a waste of over a year.

    Bradley Davis

  9. Re teacher shortage, I have been hearing about this fantasy since the early 1990s. I could not get a job in 1993 at the end of my PGCE in Computing/IT, for three months.
    There is no teacher shortage either in UK or in New Zealand. NZ is another country that was raving on for 20 years about a teacher shortage. For a Brit to get a job there, you need a work permit, which requires a medical and enormous application process; and their immigration people are ignorant and cannot read for meaning. Why not make it equally difficult for OZ and NZ citizens to work in UK as they make it for Brits to work in their countries? Then there might be enough jobs for home-grown people.

  10. Surely new teachers need to be taught theory by the universities, and practical teaching skills in schools? University trained NQTs are invaluable, as they bring new ideas and up to date practice into schools, and ensure that staff do not become out of touch while being bogged down with endless paperwork etc. Teachers are professionals, but our roles are are constantly being widened; the more thinly we are spread, the less effective we will be…

  11. To reply to Bradley Davis I think there is also ageism at work. In response to all the adverts encouraging people from industry to become teachers, my husband decided to retrain as a teacher after a 25 year career in engineering. Despite the fact that he knew it would take him about 10 years to get back to the same salary that he was leaving in industry, he felt that he wanted to give something back. His various engineering qualifications were not acceptable, so he took a job in a support role in a school (at less than half his previous salary) while he completed a part time degree. During this time he successfully taught as an unqualified teacher for 2 days a week. His degree took him 5 years to complete. He then tried for two successive years to gain a place on a teacher training course, but despite a 2.1 degree and substantial teaching experience he has been unsuccessful. He is still working in school in a support role (on a low salary), constantly being told by other staff that he would make an outstanding teacher!! He really enjoys working with young people and is very committed and conscientious and therefore a loss to education. The decision to leave industry has amounted to a 6 figure sum in potential lost earnings over the past 7 years and we have had to use every penny of our saving to try to make up some of the shortfall. We cannot sustain his low income any longer and he is so demoralised by all this that he is now training to be a plumber!

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