Changing the Guard

One of the last vestiges of the coalition government is disappearing from the DfE. Sir Paul Marshall, the recently knighted Lib Dem donor and chairman of ARK, has announced his resignation from the DfE Board. Should you wish to apply for the £20,000 a year post – 24 days of work officially required, but probably more expected – you have until the 4th July. The advert is on the Cabinet office website at I am sure you will need experience at a high level and need to be in sympathy with government proposals for education.

With a new Permanent Secretary, a new Chief Inspector and relatively new Head of OfQual, the Secretary of State will have a relatively new team around her. Of course, after Thursday and the resulting fallout, whatever the outcome of the referendum, there might also be a new ministerial team as well.

All these changes can mean the start of a new era for education in England, especially if they are accompanied by changes in personnel in the leadership of some of the associations representing staff working in the sector. Or, they could mean a period of uncertainty as the new team takes up the reins.

Nowhere may change be needed more than in the supply and training of teachers. The fig leaf of the NCTL, with its chairman without a Board; the recent unfavourable reports from the NAO and Public Accounts Committee about the training and recruitment of teachers; not mention a White Paper with lots of ideas, but short on detail, means this is an area that needs urgent attention.

The creation of the long-awaited National Teaching Service and a decision on what to do about a national recruitment site as well as a consideration of the future shape of the teacher preparation market all require urgent attention in Whitehall. It is interesting to note that in asking for bids from providers for the 2017 teacher trainee cohort the NCTL has required bidders, whether schools, higher education or private providers, to include evidence of local demand in support of their bids. TeachVac is offering a service to providers to help with the evidence they need. (Interested organisations should email

An announcement on the next stage of the National Teaching Service must surely follow quickly after the ending of purdah if timescales for the service to be any use in 2017 are to be met. Of course, the cutting of funds for schools through increased NI and pension costs may reduce the need for teachers, as many any slowdown in the economy, should it arise for any reason, with the possible effect of making recruitment less of an issue than it has been over the past two years.

However, the fact that Ofsted are now apparently looking at recruitment issues in their inspections suggests action is being taken to consider what schools and MATs are doing about recruitment. As a result, schools being inspected will be in need of comparative data for their area and they should contact about what is on offer.

Needless to say, one defence must be: we could have recruited if the government had met its target in Design & Technology (or insert appropriate subject or phase), so it is not entirely our fault. But it will help to have the evidence.



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