What’s wrong with career changers?

An analysis of data provided by UCAS yesterday on applications to teacher preparation courses, and offers made to applicants, suggested that this year recruiting to teacher preparation courses will be even more of a challenge than last year. There is now a risk that unless the 5,000 applicants with interview requests outstanding or awaiting offer have a different success rate to those applying earlier in the year even primary courses may not meet their targets across England.

By 16th June some 23,000 applicants had been placed, conditionally placed or were holding offers against a target in excess of 29,000 graduates, excluding Teach First. With no more than 10 weeks to go before courses start, and the skills tests to pass, not to mention the school holidays, it will need an unprecedented effort to hit the targets in all subjects even at the lower level indicated by the DfE’s Teacher Supply Model; the NCTL allocations in many subjects are just pie in the sky now.

Bearing in mind that these are places on courses for those that want to become teachers ,the conversion rates on the different courses are interesting:

HE 23%
HE 19%
All applicants 20%

School Centred courses appear to have made a higher percentage of offers to applicants than other routes. In primary, the School Direct training route has made the same percentage of offer to applicants as higher education, but in secondary courses higher education has made a higher percentage of offers despite having seen its number of places decline compared with last year.

The interesting outcome is the apparent low percentage of offers to career changers applying for the School Direct Salaried route where offers appear below the totals achieved in many years under the former Graduate Teacher Programme. Only around one in eight applications to the secondary courses have been accepted. This means that only 910 applicants have been placed, conditionally placed, or were holding an offer on the 16th June for secondary School Direct Salaried places. In primary the total is 1,500 offers.

It is worth exploring whether this means that career switchers are less suitable for teaching, despite their greater experience than new graduates, and older graduates applying for the other routes? The NCTL should also make clear whether any salaried places have been returned by schools and re-allocated to other routes following the recent requests for providers of all types to take additional places in many subjects and the primary phase.

It is also worth noting that the DfE/NCTL decision to allow all legitimate bids in physics and mathematics doesn’t seem to be working. As a result, it is important to know whether it is distorting the regional picture with more places being accepted in some parts of the country than others.

The Royal Society paper on Vision published yesterday recognised the need for more teachers. These figures show that in the areas they mentioned this isn’t happening. Time for plan B?



6 thoughts on “What’s wrong with career changers?

  1. Although we have to take UCAS data with a pinch of salt, the “number of applications per allocated place” makes for an interesting calculation. (Based on the allocation data released 21 Nov)

    Primary Higher education
    32,320 for 13,709 places = 2.4 per place

    Primary SCITT
    2,640 for 1,435 places = 1.8

    Primary School Direct
    20,360 for 6,726 places = 3.0

    Secondary Higher education
    31,100 for 9,386 places = 3.3

    Secondary SCITT
    2,730 for 1,287 places = 2.1

    Secondary School Direct
    22,150 for 8,528 places = 2.6

    It will be interesting to see how Ministers comment on the popularity of School Direct this year.

    • If this is based upon 2103 entry data you cannot apply the same rules as the system was totally different. The GTTR application process counted applicants, the present system counts mostly applications and applicants can make three applications at the same time this year . However, I agree with your final comment.

      • Sorry John, I didn’t explain that the application data comes from the most recent UCAS statistical release (June 2014) and that this has been compared with the initial 2014-15 allocation data (Nov 13 version) – before any recent additional allocation. Hopefully the applications/applicant issue will be resolved when(!) UCAS release more useful data at the end of the cycle.

  2. Sorry Mark for the mis-understanding. I agree we must await the end of the cycle for validated data but there are issues with School Direct, especially the Salaried route that is falling behind the numbers recruited through the former GTP programme. That makes the comments of ASCL President about using unqualified teachers even more curious -see next post.

  3. I think the main problem with SD Salaried is that, as emloyers, the schools are often looking for a level of professionalism that they would expect from an NQT. Sometimes this is to do with teaching skills (SD Salaried applicants usually have to teach as part of their interview day) but more often I think it is down to a misplaced comment, or a subtly implied suggestion from the applicant that teaching isn’t as hard as everyone makes out. An NQT applicant will have been in school long enough to know not to make these slips but I’ve seen quite a few interview panels dismiss someone I would have happily taken for Core PGCE at my HEI on the basis of one ill-judged response.
    The other factor, of course, is that as an HEI, if a trainee doesn’t establish good relationships with a department, we have plenty of options to move them; they usually learn from their mistakes and make a fresh start. SD doesn’t really offer that option so a school has to be pretty sure that they will be a good fit. In most cases, schools would rather have a place unfilled than have a full academic year of trauma and intervention if they make the wrong choice.

  4. Dodiscimus,

    You highlight the real dilemma in policy – is teacher preparation to meet the needs of the individual school or the system as a whole? As I tried to discuss in the following post this issue is also being played out in the School Direct v Teach First debate. Although it might have worked in the secondary sector, the school centred model as a solution for the system won’t work in the primary sector. Indeed, as I made clear in a post way back last autumn, primary training needs a radical overhaul. I will be interested to see whether Sir peter Carter agrees with me when he publishes his review. Outstanding graduates can become great teacher sin 39 weeks form a standing start; mere mortals might need a bit more help and guidance and with the decline in NQT support from local authorities the issues with the preparation year and mis-match between training and first job become ever more obvious.

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