Lowering the bar?

The government has now published the letter from Nick Gibb, Minister of State, sent last week to teacher training providers, encouraging maximum effort in recruitment this year. I cannot recall such a similar letter being sent by a Minister in any recent recruitment cycle. I think in the mid-1960s a Labour Secretary of State once wrote to Mayors across the country asking them to encourage residents to become teachers or return to teaching during the baby boom of that time.

The text of Mr Gibb’s letter can be found at;


The most interesting paragraph in the letter reads as follows:

‘It is right to reject candidates who are not suitable. However, it is also crucial to support and develop those who have the desire and talent to teach. The emphasis must be on assessing applicants based on their suitability to train to teach, rather than whether they are ready to teach at the point of entry.’

As Ofsted will amend the Inspection handbook, this will presumably mean candidates where quality is of concern will now be offered the possibility of becoming a teacher with the final decision about suitability being deferred until the end of the preparation period. It will be interesting to see how much of a boost this letter provides to recruitment totals during the remainder of the recruitment round. After all, if there are no applicants, you cannot offer them a place.

The notion of civil servants looking at rejection rates and then contacting institutions where they feel too many applicants are being rejected raises some interesting issues. Is it acceptable to reject any marginal quality primary arts and humanities graduate because the provider wants to see if they can recruit more maths and science entrants or will civil servants now tell them to accept on a first come first served basis anyone that meets the new threshold. Presumably, monitoring gender, ethnicity and social mobility outcomes are also now thrown out the window in favour of the new approach?

Will there be a new marketing campaign extolling how easy it is to become a teacher. Just turn up and meet the basic maths and English requirements and you will be offered a place. Might the skills tests be the next brick in the wall to be dismantled, returning to an end of course test rather than the present pre-entry timing. This would allow providers to coach trainees in danger of failure and presumably add a few more on to the list of possible applicants.

Of course, simplifying the complex bursary and fee remission arrangements might help more than exhortations to recruit more of the present pool of applicants, especially if rejection rates are already very low in some subjects After all, only a third of design and technology places were filled on courses starting in September 2017. I guess providers weren’t too anxious to turn many applicants away. Sadly, UCAS data isn’t arranged in a manner so as to easily make it possible to determine the number of applicants as opposed to applications per subject, so one cannot answer that question.





2 thoughts on “Lowering the bar?

  1. Teachers should be fully trained to teach at the point they enter the profession. Anything else does a disservice to pupils. It would be unacceptable in Finland for teachers to enter a classroom without having done several years studying their subject and the methodology of teaching to Masters level.
    But here in England we have politicians thinking it’s only necessary to have a few weeks induction before being trained on-the-job (Teach First). By the time many of these are trained they’ve done their mandatory two years and are off somewhere else. These same politicians, like Gove, think teaching is a ‘craft’ while Gibb appears to think it can be done by someone with a prepared script such as that provided by CoreKnowledgeUK.
    Our children and young people deserve better. It doesn’t take a genius to guess which schools will predominantly use these poorly trained entrants – those in areas where recruitment is difficult; schools with a large number of disadvantaged pupils and certain MATs who rely on these recruits.

    • Janet,

      The contact time in the TF summer school is more than on most PGCE courses. I think School Direct Salaried route is of more concern in terms of pre-classroom preparation although much depends upon the school and the support given. However, as I know form personal experience, you cannot walk in off the street and teach young people effectively.


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