Big Brother

The announcement earlier in the week of the Teacher Supply Model numbers and recruitment thresholds for teacher training in 2016/17 was rather overshadowed by the decision on a selective school expansion programme in Kent. That is an issue I have written about previously on this blog and may well return to again. However, others have already made the case eloquently about how backward a move this is in reality.

But, to return to teacher training because, despite Michael Gove’s assertion that teaching doesn’t need any preparation for the job, most of us think it isn’t as easy to walk into a classroom as in to a job in either of the Houses of Parliament.

The key message from this week’s announcement is; more maths training places; a similar number of places to this year’s training numbers in other EBacc subjects and fewer places in the non-EBacc subjects. In primary, the big growth period is now over unless there is a change in teacher numbersin employment, perhaps through more departures from the profession among young women that make up a sizeable proportion of the primary school teaching force these days.

Why I have headed this blog ‘big brother’ is because, although there are no allocations this year, there are recruitment control thresholds that protect Teach First -included in the Teacher Supply Model number for the first time, at least publically – and School Direct plus SCITT routes. As there are no published thresholds for higher education providers, they are at risk if the school routes recruit quickly above the minimum recruitment level. This is only likely to be a possibility in history, PE, primary and according to the government English – although I think that less likely.

In order to monitor what is happening and prevent over-recruitment that might stop schools reaching their minimum threshold the National College can issue compulsory stop notices on further offers to providers. This effectively bans future offers being made, although presumably allowing replacements for anyone that drops out? The College will also monitor the UCAS system on a daily basis for the number of offers being made and may also step in if regional patterns are distorted in such a manner as to risk leaving parts of the country short of teachers in certain subjects.

Interestingly, there seems little concern for the applicants in this process. I would advise applicants against booking tickets to interviews until the day before in case the provider is suddenly capped, especially if it is a university PGCE course. Indeed, it might be fanciful to suggest that even during an interview a candidate could be told by the provider that they no longer have any places left because it has been ‘capped’.

However, for this to happen, even in most of the non-EBacc subjects recruitment in 2016-17 is likely to have to improve on that expected to be recorded in the 2015 ITT census that is to be published next month, so it will only really worry those applying in the subjects listed above where providers are likely to find it easy to recruit to the TSM number.

Finally, I have concerns about whether we really need to train 999 PE teachers in 2016-17 and only 252 business studies teachers. This is based upon the TeachVac vacancy data were have recorded this year, but that may well be something to discuss with the statisticians.

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2 thoughts on “Big Brother

  1. This was my rather hurried analysis of the spreadsheets.

    The subjects with a high proportion of places assigned to SD/SCITT are English (56%), History (60%), PE (60%), Primary (52%). I tried to compare this to the real numbers from this year but the two data sets are not directly comparable. It doesn’t look like any subjects are being pushed massively towards SD/SCITT although possibly a few % for English and PE. I can’t make any sense of the Primary numbers I’m afraid.

    Teacher Supply Model numbers are the same as this year apart from Maths (up 20%), Primary (up a few %), RE (down over 10%) and PE (down nearly 20%). I guess reasons might be Maths: desperation, Primary: more kids still but slowing, RE: over-enthusiasm for Tom Bennett last year, and PE: an attempt to set the target low because of concern about how swiftly recruitment can be stopped.

    I can’t be sure but I don’t see anything here that makes much difference to what we already knew, except that I think maybe it’s clearer that subjects that usually exceed allocation could get caught by national quotas being reached for HEIs if a decent number of other HEIs are able to recruit quickly and all choose to expand slightly. For these subjects the SD/SCITT thresholds are high enough to prevent any national expansion of HEI numbers beyond this year’s allocations.

    Not sure if the above will be clear to anyone reading from outside our own HEI context. My big question remains PE, where we get 100+ applicants per HEI place. I think the NCTL are going to have a very hard time catching the target for PE and I think providers are going to have to offer to the first decent applicants they see for fear of missing the boat. I think it might be like Harrods on Boxing Day. PE applicants need to be checking UCAS hourly (expecting it to open on 27th Oct but not sure what time of day/night), have their personal statement written and all other information ready to go, and have their references ready too with their referees on speed dial.

    • Dodiscimus,

      I agree it may not be important to those not interested in teacher recruitment. I think you will find a reduction in all non-EBacc subjects of some degree or other. The primary numbers only relate to PG recruitment. UG recruitment is subject to different controls and I am not clear yet about them. The DfE looks at final numbers on UG courses and translates that into the effect on PG numbers needed. So, the increase of 200 or so in UG secondary may have an effect on the 2018-19 PG targets if they are recruited and stay on these courses to their final year. The big change seems to be the inclusion of Teach First in the numbers. this will help the government look as if they are closer to reaching their targets on recruitment, but reduce the stock available for entry in 2017 thus affecting the 2019 targets. however, with the weighted averages used it probably won’t show in the numbers before the 2020 round and that will be after the general election.

      Finally, as you say on PE and history will see early problems with recruitment controls. Primary is used to a big initial rush and I am sure providers will try and fill early. This may mean an unbalanced entry with fewer men and applicants in STEM subjects and more women from arts and humanities subjects. hopefully, I will be proved wrong but we will know by January and the first public UCAS data for 2016.

      John Howson

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