Where a Minister say ‘it is my view’ you can wonder whether he asked his civil servants for some evidence to support his statement, but likely it wasn’t there. Nick Gibb, a relic of the Gove era and generally no friend of higher education’s role in teacher training and development, uttered the said phrase in his speech to the Festival of Education held this weekend. As reported by the DfE he said;
It is my view that in previous years too many universities rejected candidates who were ready to be trained to become highly effective and inspirational teachers. The government has worked with universities and Ofsted to ensure that they are incentivised to take on applicants who are ready to train to teach.
It is interesting to look at the evidence to see how far it supports his stated view
In 2017, the UCAS end of cycle report on applications revealed that there had been 54,310 applications for places on primary sector courses and 66,770 applications for places on secondary sector courses. Sadly, UCAS didn’t publish the data for applicants as opposed to applications.
|Percentage of applications placed|
Source UCAS End of cycle Report B Table 10
At this stage it is worth remembering that applicants could, but didn’t have to, make as many as three applications. Some rejected by all three may make additional applications to other providers. At least for 2017, the evidence is mixed. In the primary sector, two of the three schools routes accepted a larger percentage of applications than higher education, whereas in the secondary sector, where applications to different subjects plays a part, higher education placed a higher percentage of applications than the two main School Direct routes. In both the primary and secondary sectors, the SCITT route had the highest percentage of applications accepted.
Now it is possibly that some routes attract more mature and location specific applicants. These might make less than three applications but, overall, there were 41,700 applicants recorded by UCAS with a domicile group shown as England. Providers in England received 122,150 applications. This equates to just over 2.9 applications per applicant if we assume applicants domiciled in England applied to providers also located in England, so may well not be the reason for the disparity. Applicants for primary courses may prefer training in a university rather than a school setting: the data doesn’t allow us to answer that question.
Looking back in time to 2007, where I can easily access the data on applications and acceptances through the then GTTR system from a paper I wrote for Policy Exchange on The Labour Market for Teachers, I see, higher education and the few SCITTS then around, had an impressive track record of accepting 57% of all secondary applicants and 44% of those applying for primary courses. In those days there were lots of would-be primary teachers.
In Design & Technology, always a shortage subject, 77% of applicants were accepted, as were 70% of those wanting to be music teachers and 70% of would-be languages teachers. At the other end of the scale only 32% of would-be drama teachers and 35% of potential PE teachers were accepted.
So, please Mr Gibb, can we have the evidence for your view before it joins other myths about teacher education.