Universities bail out Schools Direct

Universities intervened when School Direct recruited only two-thirds of the 25% of teacher training places that they had been allocated, the BBC reports.

Ex-Permanent Secretary Sir David Bell, now vice-chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “The cracks have been papered over thanks to universities stepping in at the last minute to take on unfilled places.” But he warned that there are still risks of future shortages: “We’ve got to ask some serious questions about schools’ capacity to take on even more trainees next year, when they fell short this year.”

Professor John Hewson, an expert in teacher recruitment, agreed that School Direct had under-recruited and that in certain subjects, including computer science, there has been a downturn: “This is disastrous from the point of view of the new demands for children to learn computer coding from the age of five,” he said.

The DfE claim there were never formal targets and allocations were always in excess of what is needed.

While next year Ministers are expected to increase the share of School Direct allocations, some universities are thinking of moving out of teacher training completely, “removing that potential safety net,” Sir David said.

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