Three cheers for Open Government

Yesterday the DfE published the most detailed explanation of the Teacher Supply Model (TSM) that underpins decisions about how many new entrants to the teaching profession are needed each year. The new document is the most detailed any government has released to the general public in almost a quarter of a century. Unlike previous publication the new one is interactive and allows interested parties to interrogate the assumptions used within the Model. It also provides forward assumptions into the 2020s for teacher supply needs. Anyone interested can find the manual and accompanying spreadsheets at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-supply-model

The publication came about as a result of an exchange between David Laws, the Minister of State, and the Education Select Committee during one of their hearings into the issue of teacher supply and training. The Minister agreed to make the Model public and has now made good on his promise. The document is not an easy read, but the general principles are relatively easy to grasp for anyone interested in how the DfE works out the number of teachers required to enter teacher preparation programmes each year. I am sure that there will now be an informed debate on the subject

I am delighted that the current version of the TSM has reverted to calculating separate numbers for all the main curriculum subjects in secondary schools rather than just the EBacc curriculum areas with other lumped together in a composite pool.

The new Model has been used to calculate the ITT allocations for 2015 that were also announced yesterday. (More about them in another post) The good news is that the allocation for English has increased substantially. I had been puzzled, as I think had been others, about why the previous allocation figure was so far adrift of that for mathematics when both took up approximately the same amount of curriculum time in schools. That issue has been rectified for 2015 and will no doubt be welcomed by head teachers that have struggled to recruit teachers of English.

Although the data are somewhat daunting at first glance they do help those that take the time to work through them understand the potential implications of the growth in the school population over the next decade. Teaching is probably going to be a recession-proof occupation for at least the next 20 years in most parts of the country. However, that does mean that the Model shows the continuing need to recruit large numbers of new entrants to the profession. What the Model doesn’t do is identify what happens if recruitment to training falls short of target for a number of years. One solution would be to add in the shortfall to future targets but that can inflate then to unsustainable numbers. Such a process also doesn’t take into account the fact that schools must cover lessons and do so be various recruitment methods including in the past hiring teachers from overseas.

In previous versions of the Model changes from year to year were subject to a smoothing process. That prevented too large a change from one year to the next for the benefit of providers of teacher training. That seems to have been removed. The solution still seems to be to over-allocate so that the risk at the end of the course still lies completely with the trainee that has to find a teaching post. Solving that concern is not something the TSM can do.

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5 thoughts on “Three cheers for Open Government

    • Mark,

      Thanks for the comment. I think that there is more behind the table in terms of generating overall numbers rather than the distribution between different routes. however, if different routes have different completion and wastage after entry rates it is an important factor to build into the modeling process. Allocations are a matter for the NCTL and not the TSM that is run by the DfE. NCTL use their allocations methodology and, as you know, government ideology is to favour school-led provision rather than HEIs, especially in secondary subjects.

      John Howson

  1. Having looked at Conversion Rates Table (model-part-2.xls) I was intrigued to see how calculations for individual subjects use just one small summary table on the tab entitled “Proportion by route”. This table appears to give the global recruitment proportions (across Primary and Secondary?) for 2014/15:
    HEI 56%
    SCITT 9%
    SD training 25%
    SD salaried 10%
    These global figures are then used as weightings, together with the different compleition and employments rates, to calculate ITT need based on the NQT Entrant need. Once we know the outcome of the October census for 2014-15, it will be interesting to see how valid it is to apply such global results. At first sight, these global proportions don’t seem to have been applied to the 2015-16 allocations!

  2. I certainly agree that the publication of the Teacher Supply Model is to be applauded as a step forward in terms of open government. However, having had a look at the publication I still do not understand how the allocations for my own subject specialism, Drama, have been made. Allow me to outline my perturbation.
    For the 2014 – 15 entry the long established Secondary Drama courses at Middlesex, Plymouth, Central School of Speech and Drama and Liverpool Hope were not given an allocation. As a result, Ken Taylor, a very highly respected specialist in Drama based at Middlesex, took early retirement while Jo Lock Smith, a rising star in the field of teacher education in Drama was made redundant. Here at Reading we were given just 4 PGCE Core Drama places. Meanwhile, Sussex, a university with no previous experience of training drama teachers were allotted 8 places.
    For the 2015 – 16 entry, Middlesex and Plymouth have been allotted 10 places each but now have no tutor to teach the courses and their websites do not suggest that they intend to open them again. I’m pleased to note that Reading, which has been offering PGCE Drama for over 30 years and enjoys an international reputation for the excellence of its training in this subject, has been granted 10 places. Sussex meanwhile, which has no experience in this area, has been granted 20 places. There are no details of the subject specialism on its website. Even more astonishing is that the University of East London which similarly has never been involved in PGCE Drama, has been allotted 30 places! The subject does not however appear on its website as an option in secondary teacher training. So much for the edict of a few years ago when allocations were made, supposedly, on the strength of the provider’s Ofsted grading.
    Understandably, all of us involved in HEI led PGCE Secondary Drama are at a loss as to what to make of these allocations. Notwithstanding the detail and complexities of the Teacher Supply Model, we can see neither logic in the allocations or indeed much chance of all of the places allotted being taken up. And if they are, who will teach the courses?
    Prof. Andy Kempe, University of Reading

    • Andy,

      There are two distinct issues here. The TSM is used to decide the numbers needed and that is the process described in the model. The National College decides how to allocate those places, and any extra it wants to allocated using the methodology announced in its own documentation. By publishing the model I hope we can have a discussion about longer-term strategies in allocations to avoid exactly the issues you raise. However, with the thrust towards more school-led provision the strategy to be used with regard to HEIs is less clear except to ensure some form of regional coverage. The guarantee to outstanding providers is no longer in place and it isn’t clear whether the NCTL takes account of overall quality of provision or that for individual subjects. You should engender a discussion at your regional providers meeting.

      John Howson

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