Unresolved issues

At this time of year, it is usual to look back and consider unfinished business that will stray over into 2017. I can think of a number of different issues where I hope there will be an outcome next year.

Firstly, I look forward to the publication of the ITT training numbers. This is so we can know whether the government has further reduced the targets, even though pupil numbers are set to increase. Any reduction would be a sure sign that times will be harder for schools in the future and that fewer teachers will be expected to be employed by state-funded schools.

Of course, lower training numbers also make it easier for the government to hit their training targets, as we have seen with the 2016 ITT census. Training numbers for 2016 were reduced and also Teach First was consolidated into the targets, reducing overall requirements. As I suggested in a previous post, education funding probably doesn’t yet worry parents as much as NHS funding and the time it takes to make a GP’s appointment. Until that changes, the days of generous spending on education will probably be over.

My second issue is the lack of a report by the Education Select Committee into teacher supply. The Committee opened an Inquiry in the autumn of 2015, but has yet to produce a report. An early report in the spring of 2016 probably became unlikely when the National Audit Office published their report on teacher training. The subsequent evidence session with civil servants in front of the Public Accounts Committee still sends shivers down my spine every time I think of it. That evidence session can be read from Question 50 onwards at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmpubacc/73/7310.htm#_idTextAnchor020 and viewed at http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/541b77b2-3cfd-4ba5-bd32-b6dd02dd6f5d (7th March 2016 – use accounts as a search term on Parliament TV if the link doesn’t work).

Any report from the Education Select Committee in 2017 may well be different from one produced sooner, not least because of the changes in membership of the Committee. Many of the present membership may not have been on the Committee during the main evidence gathering period. This leads me to wonder whether there should be a finite timescale for any Inquiry by a Select Committee and how this Inquiry is placed in terms of long-running inquiries by such Committees where there hasn’t even been an interim report.

Finally, we are still awaiting the outcome of the deliberations of the Migration Advisory Committee on the status of teaching and Tier 2 visa status. The call for evidence closed in September and the Committee has now had more than three months to deliberate the evidence, much of which was in its possession well ahead of the closing date for submissions from outside bodies. As the 2017 recruitment round for September appointments starts early in 2017, agencies, schools and even possible applicants will be keen to know when they can expect a decision. In the light of improved recruitment into training in both science and mathematics and the probably tightening of school budgets, this will be a difficult call for the Committee.

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