The new scheme to fund courses to attract returners to teaching in Ebacc subjects, but not in other shortage subjects such as design and technology and business studies, shows a government that values history more than encouraging the next generation to see the importance of the fashion, catering, engineering, electronics and many other industries. After all, design and technology as asubject is facing a far greater teacher shortage problem than is history. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/461490/SRT_Pilot_Guidance_final.pdf
There is really no shortage of history teachers, at least in the State Sector, although I suppose they could be expected to teach Key Stage 3 humanities to relieve the looming shortage of geography teachers. But, what of Religious Education, IT and music, all other non-Ebacc subjects where there have been, are, or will be shortages. Don’t these subjects count in the curriculum any more to the Tories in government?
There is also an argument that the programme may be too late. The main recruitment cycle is between March and the end of May each year, but these courses might not finish until July. This means some taking the course might have to wait until January 2017 before finding a teaching post.
However, it marks a step in the right direction. Will training schools, the new orthodoxy for the location of training, have the space and resources at the price offered to run such courses? With no London price differential it seems likely schools in the capital will have to balance their recruitment needs with their ability to subsidise a course.
I am sure the intention of this programme is to increase returners, but it isn’t clear what market testing the National College has undertaken. Please could it not just be a ‘hit and hope’ activity where someone has identified returners as a possible group where supply could be increased, but not even bothered to look at JSA claimant counts for teachers across the country. I also hope that alongside this scheme there will be funds and encouragement for a return of KIT or Keep in Touch schemes for teachers on maternity leave. Yesterday, by chance, I met a teachers working on a national peer to peer self-development site that looks very interesting and innovative. It is just the sort of scheme the government might set up an innovation fund to help get off the ground. But that would be directly the opposite of the micro-managed approach taken with the Returner Scheme.
Keen readers of Hansard will also have noticed that the Labour opposition used the debate on Wednesday on the post-committee stage of the Bill to introduce the theme of teacher shortages and their effect on schools being cited as coasting. It is always gratifying when data one has produced is prayed in aid in the Chamber as part of the debate.
As ever, it is by the opposition, but hopefully there will also be a mention of TeachVac and its contribution to understanding the teacher supply situation sometime soon as it gains credibility as a free recruitment site to schools and teachers. Indeed, TeachVac can also help those returners the government scheme attracts to find their teaching post.