QTS numbers: no room for complacency

If you look at tables 6a and 6b of the ITT profiles published by the DfE this week, you can perhaps understand why some Ministers are sometimes dubious about a teacher recruitment crisis. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2016-to-2017

In a whole range of subjects, the percentage of trainees in 2016/17 in employment within six months of gaining QTS was lower than in the previous year. A simple reading of those percentages might make one think that there were more unemployed teachers looking for work than the previous year, so that was alright wasn’t it. Not so. Although the number of secondary phase trainees awarded QTS in 201/17 was the highest since 2011/12, a whisker up on the previous year, there were still a range of subjects where the number of trainees awarded QTS was down on the previous year. However, it is worth acknowledging that 2015/16 and 2016/17 were better years for the award of secondary QTS than the two previous year. Sadly, 2017/18 isn’t like to continue the improvement; 2018/19 also looks like being another challenging year.

The DfE data on those with QTS in employment looks at both employment in state-funded and non-state funded schools, because of how the data has been collected. It is to be hoped that tying in QTS to the School Workforce Census will eventually revel better data about how many of those gaining QTS start teaching in locations other than state-funded schools.

In Physics, where 88% of those with known destinations from the 2016/17 were in teaching by six months from gaining QTS, the percentage a falls to no more than 70% of those that started a teacher preparation course. That’s a lot of bursary cash not producing a teacher in a state-funded school.

On the other hand, 88% of physical education trainees that started a course were teaching somewhere by six months after the end of their course. This is despite not having access to any bursary during their training and accruing fee debts of around £9,000 on top of their undergraduate debts. But, I suspect that the option for these graduates are less than for Physics graduates.

There are still worrying trends in some subjects, when comparing the differences in the percentage of trainees awarded QTS. The difference includes both failures as well as those that left the course after 90 days and those that failed to pass the Skills Tests for teachers.  The percentage of final year secondary trainees awarded QTS fell by a percentage point between 2015/16 and 2016/17 from 92% to 91%. However, the overall figure contains a range from 96% of PE final year trainees at one end of the scale to 83% of those on Physics courses. Even that percentage is better than the 79% of Physics final year trainees awarded QTS in 2012/13. Mathematics seems to have been stuck at just less than 90% for the past few years, whereas art and design and music recorded percentages awarded QTS in the mid-90% range most years. It may be that in these subjects technical subject knowledge is less of an issue with trainees and so more time can be spent on the application of the subject knowledge to classroom practice.

After two relatively good years, when the DfE recognised that there was a potential for a serious crisis in new entrants to teaching and upped the marketing on teaching as a career, the next two years are likely to see fewer new entrants with QTS. This is just at the time when pupil numbers in secondary schools are once again on the increase. Whether that will matter in 2019 will depend upon how many teaching staff schools will be able to afford to employ: it certainly mattered in 2018.

 

 

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