I don’t normally pay as much attention to the state of primary intakes to teacher training as perhaps I should. This is because the main focus has been on shortages in secondary. However, the latest National College newsletter for those involved in School Direct – is there such as publication for other routes – contains the following:
‘If you have filled, or are close to filling, your allocation in English, and you have evidence from your application data that you have sufficient demand to take on more trainees, you can now request additional places. Additionally, if you have filled your primary cohort, then you can now request additional primary places.
We can also confirm that we are accepting requests for new courses (where there was no initial allocation) in all subjects apart from English, primary, PE and history.’
This seems to suggest that there are still primary places available as well as places in English. The second paragraph doesn’t make it clear whether the new courses can be for 2015 entry or are in anticipation of 2016 allocations. If the former, then some higher education providers will no doubt be asking whether they can also open new courses.
Of interest, is whether the places available are as a result of schools returning allocated School Direct places and, if so, whether they are salaried or training places? With so many vacancies located in and around London I am not sure of the wisdom of spending money re-allocating places from that part of the country to say either the North West or South West where, at least in the secondary sector, vacancies for main scale teachers are at a much lower level.
Elsewhere in this bulletin the National College acknowledges that schools may close down the application process as early as the end of May and reminds those schools to let UCAS know so that others can handle any late applications. The implications are that the system lost some of the 2,000 plus applicants arriving over the summer last year because they applied to schools that had stopped recruiting but handn’t made that fact clear. Personally, as we need as many applicants as possible, I believe that the funding agreement for School Direct should require schools to recruit throughout the summer, as higher education courses have always sought to do when there are unfilled places.
In a period of teacher shortage those operating teacher preparation programmes should all be doing everything possible to fill as many of the available places as possible, especially when these places are in areas of high need for teachers. The alternative will be to deepen the teacher recruitment crisis in 2016; surely that cannot be government policy?
The UCAS web site should also identify separately courses closed because they are full and those courses closed because the provider has decided not to accept any more applications, but has places still available. It may be that this information is already available to Ministers, but it should also be available to others so that the use of public money can be scrutinised.