There are a number of myths around in the world of teacher supply at the present time. Some are supported by evidence from surveys but called into question by other data.
There are fewer teaching posts around this year.
This is the common myth of 2017, supported by evidence from the teacher associations. About how strapped for cash schools will be in 2017/18. Well, it may be that schools will have less cash than in the past, but so far that hasn’t affected vacancy rates for teachers, at least in the secondary sector. We won’t know the full outcome of the current recruitment round until after the May 31st resignation date, but, so far vacancies are up on 2016 and in line with 2015. There could be several reasons for this: more teachers may be quitting state schools or the profession in general as wages stagnate and working conditions don’t improve; the start of the increase in school rolls has created more jobs; independent schools are still hiring strongly. TeachVac has the data to look into these different scenarios and to identify whether there is a national trend or a series of different outcomes that may make it possible to support all the different statements in different parts of England.
The Teacher Supply Model isn’t working
Actually, for the main subjects it does seem to work. However, it doesn’t work as well in some of the subjects taking less curriculum time and there also seems to be a recurring issue around English. What critics often fail to take into account is the difference between the prediction of the Model and the outcome of the recruitment round. If the allocated places using the Model aren’t all filled, then a shortage is to be expected in the labour market a year later. Of course, with a national model, plus an uneven distribution of allocated places across the country, there are bound to be areas with shortages and even surpluses of teachers in some subjects. The real issue is the extent to which the government wants to make their modelling work better by involving others in the discussions? It has seemed that there has been something of a retreat into secrecy over the past year. Although since I wrote these words there has been something of a thaw.
School-based training is a growing share of the market
Well, it all depends upon what you mean by school-based training. If you include the school-administered courses for the School Direct Fee programme, you could probably make a case. However, these programmes often aren’t very different in content and approach to many genuine partnerships programmes administered by universities. The School Based Salary programme doesn’t look very different in numerical terms to the former GTTR programme, when it was at its height. So, the key difference is Teach First and it is no longer clear how much more growth there is in that programme.
Finally, it is not a myth that the government didn’t publish the 2017 overall allocations for teacher preparation courses when it normally did. It should now do so before it enters purdah ahead of the general election.