Batten down the hatches

The DfE has finally provided the August data on ITT applications. Flagged for the 22nd August publication, the data are now in the public domain. As expected, they make grim reading for anyone at all interested in teacher supply.

At this stage of the year there are two numbers that matter; the absolute number offered a place on a postgraduate ITT course, and how that number relates to the DfE’s Teacher Supply Model (TSM) and its calculation of how many teachers are needed to be trained each year.

First the good news, there are more offers in design and technology than in August last year; nearly 100 more. However, nowhere near enough to meet the probable TSM number, based upon past levels.

Now the bad news. Several subjects are at their lowest level for offers for any year since before the 2013/14 recruitment round. These include:

Languages

Religious Education

Physics

Music

Mathematics

English

Computing

Biology

None of these subjects will recruit enough trainees to meet the likely TSM number.

Physical Education

History

Drama

Will probably recruit enough trainees to meet targets, as should the primary sector, where there are around 12,000 offers. Much depends upon the numbers made offers that fail to turn up when courses commence.

In total, around 24,000 candidates have been recruited, and have either fulfilled all requirements or have ‘conditions pending’. The 13,850 of the 24,000 in the latter category are a worry. There should not be that many at this stage in the cycle. Perhaps course administrators haven’t updated the records during July and August. But it cannot be because candidates are awaiting degree results, so presumably it is either DBS checks or some other administrative issue.

24,000 is still an impressive number, and it should hammer home to Ministers in the new government how important teaching is as a career. With approaching a decade of under-recruitment to training, parts of the school system are now facing serious issues with staffing.

So, how serious is the present situation? In August 2021 there were 46,830 applicants to courses. This August, the number is 38,062. New graduate numbers have dropped from around 14% of the total to 13%, but the decline is greater in percentage terms than the nine per cent overall decline. Teaching is becoming more reliant upon career changers once again.

There have been 5,000 fewer female applicants this year compared with August 2021, and 2,500 fewer men, although the level of applications from men is still higher than it was 30 years ago when applicant numbers struggled to reach the 10,000 level.

While there has been a slight increase in applications for the PG Teaching apprenticeship route into teaching, some other routes are below last year. HE is down from 55,000 to less than 53,000 but SCITT are only marginally down from 15,000 to just over 14,600. The School Direct Salaried route has attracted less than 6,000 applications, compared with some 9,000 last year. With just 760 offers, this route is no longer of any more than passing interest in supplying new teachers to the profession.

If there is another spark of good news it is that applications to courses in London at 27,460 this August are only marginally below the 27,600 recorded last August. Might this be where a significant number of career changers are seeking to enter teaching. Should more ITT places be allocated to the providers with courses in the capital?

This is the last set of data because courses commence in September, and whoever is Secretary of State in September would be well advised to seek an early briefing from the newly appointed SRO for the ITT Reform Project as to how he will ensure sufficient high-quality teachers for all our state-funded schools. The current recruitment campaign isn’t working, and relying upon a recession to make teaching more attractive as a career is akin to crossing your fingers and hoping.

Then end of this cycle of recruitment marks my 35th year of studying trends in teacher recruitment, ever since I was appointed to the leadership team at Oxford Brookes then newly formed School of Education.

The next number that really matters will be the ITT Census, to be published late in the autumn, when the whole reality of the 2023 recruitment round will become apparent to schools.

My advice to schools, don’t wait until then, start planning now for a challenging recruitment round in 2023, whether for January or September appointments.

Fewer than 400 physics teachers join state schools in 2021

If you train too many teachers in some subjects, then then a higher percentage won’t find jobs. That’s the message for government from the latest ITT completer profiles.  Initial teacher training performance profiles, Academic Year 2020/21 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)

Final year postgraduate trainee outcomes by subject for the 2020/21 academic year

SubjectTotal traineesPercentage awarded QTSPercentage yet to completePercentage not awarded QTSPercentage of those awarded QTS teaching in a state-funded school
Design & Technology66691%6%3%82%
Biology2,12286%8%6%78%
Music47892%3%5%78%
English3,22990%6%4%77%
Mathematics2,81287%7%5%77%
Geography1,20392%4%3%76%
Business Studies38187%7%6%75%
Religious Education65188%7%6%75%
Chemistry89986%8%6%74%
Secondary20,36589%6%5%74%
Physics54383%9%9%73%
Total35,37187%8%5%73%
Modern Foreign Languages1,65091%5%4%72%
Other39891%5%4%71%
Primary15,00685%11%4%71%
History1,67690%6%4%70%
Art & Design91990%7%3%69%
Computing62482%11%7%68%
Drama45592%4%4%67%
Physical Education1,59095%3%2%64%
Classics6990%9%1%52%
Source DfE

Of those awarded QTS, and not shown teaching in a state-funded school, this does not always mean that they have abandoned teaching as a profession, as they may still be in teaching either in a Sixth Form or FE college or in the private sector, either in England or elsewhere in the world.

However, it seems highly unlikely that 576 PE teachers are doing so, while just 108 design and technology teachers took the same route. However, it does seem possible and indeed likely that almost half the 69 Classics teachers trained at the public expense are teaching outside the state-funded sector. Apart from computing and classics, all the subjects in from Primary to the foot of the table are subjects where recruitment into training might have been close to or exceeded the DfE training number presumption from the Teacher Supply Model.  

Training teachers for the private sector may be a cheap price to pay if it relieves the State of the need to fund the education of pupils whose parents are prepared to pay for their education. Although there are other arguments against private education.

However, if the trainees that moved into the private school sector are either used to teach pupils from overseas or even more, now teaching is a global profession, they move to a school overseas to teach that is a net loss to the Exchequer. This is a point Mr Sunak might like to ponder following his reference to selective schools in the debate with Conservative Party members last evening.

Private schools may also account for the reason why physics had only 73% of the 500 or so potential completers working in state-funded schools. That’s less than 400 new teachers of physics for the state-school sector in 2020/21.

Has DfE policy already affected ITT outcomes?

The repercussions of the re-accreditation process for ITT are already reverberating around the teacher preparation world. The DfE may possibly be embarking on the most radical realignment of providers since the cull of institutions in the 1970s. As then, the end of a growth in pupil numbers meant the demand for new teachers will reduce going forward, especially if the traditional assumptions on the scale of demand remain true.

This is not the place to discuss both the effect of mass tutoring and the creation of teaching as a global profession on the demand for teachers by schools in England. Those issues have already been rehearsed previously on this blog.

This post looks at the monthly ITT data on applications published by the DfE yesterday, and containing data up to the 16th May. The headline news is that applications continue to be depressed. In some subjects they are well below the boost that the pandemic provided last year.

Even more alarming is the fact that in many secondary subjects ‘offers’ and recruited trainees for September are at their lowest May levels for more than a decade. For instance, physics has just 337 in the offer categories. However, a further 243 applications are under consideration. In computing the 244 offers is a record low for May, and there are only 219 applications awaiting a decision, and around two thirds of the total applications are shown as unsuccessful.

The ‘offer’ side of the equation seems lower than in past years for this point in the cycle. Have providers reacted to a combination of late targets – not announced until April, rather than at the start of the cycle – the uncertainty surrounding the re-accreditation process, and the return of Ofsted to be much more cautious about offers than in the past?

Take a subject such as music, where one would assume that a music degree and proficiency in at least one instrument were a likely ‘given’ for applicants. However, even here, 478 of the 773 applications are show as unsuccessful. Now, I assume this includes successful applicants that have opted for one provider and are no longer holding offers at other providers, but that would mean a maximum of 295 potential trainees.

Overall candidate numbers are down from 34,490 in May 2021 to 28,977 this May. That’s below the 30,610 of May 2020. As one might expect at this time of year, the decline in career changers has had more impact than the decline in this year’s graduates, although even the numbers of applicants under 23 that are mostly new graduates, are down on last year, although holding up well compared with 2020. How this group reacts once degrees are awarded will be very important for the outcome of this year’s recruitment round. Will they look to teaching as a safe haven in uncertain times or will they be lured by the tight labour market into ignoring teaching as an option?

The regional spread of candidates is worrying, with London seeing fewer than 5,000 candidates across both primary and secondary phases compared with around 5,500 even in 2020, and 6,800 in May last year. Even in the North East, candidate numbers are fewer than 1,100 compared with 1,500 in 2020 and 1,450 last May.  Apart from the teaching apprenticeship route, all other routes into teaching are suffering downturns.

Unless the economy collapses over the next couple of months, this year’s ITT targets will be widely missed, except in history and physical education. Even in these subjects the over-recruitment may well be less than in recent times, meaning an even tighter a labour market for September 2023 and January 2024, unless there is an influx or returners to make up the shortfall.

What remains certain is that without enough teachers the aims of the recent White Paper cannot be met. Perhaps that’s why teachers receive scant mention in the new Schools Bill currently before parliament.

A target is still a target

Last week the DfE published the Postgraduate ITT targets for 2022/23. Postgraduate initial teacher training targets, Academic Year 2022/23 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)  There must have been a collective sigh of relief across the ITT sector following the announcement, because, although some changes in the targets have been announced, including some reductions in overall targets, the outcome is not likely to have more than a marginal effect on providers except in Chemistry.

The full list of changes is shown in the table below

subjectnumber 21/22number 22/23difference
Total31030326001570
Primary1080011655855
Total2023020945715
Modern Languages15052140635
Design & Technology14751825350
Computing8401145305
Others19802240260
Geography745945200
English19802100120
Physics2530261080
History78085070
Classics4030-10
Religious Education470450-20
Physical Education1010980-30
Biology820780-40
Drama330290-40
Art & Design580530-50
Music540470-70
Business Studies725635-90
Chemistry1080885-195
Mathematics28002040-760
Source: DfE

As the DfE noted in their announcement ‘It is also important to note that recruitment to postgraduate ITT in 2022/23 has not been limited for any subject except physical education. Therefore, although targets for certain subjects may have decreased compared to last year, this does not necessarily mean there will be fewer trainees recruited as a consequence – recruitment can exceed targets.’

This statement, of course, raises the question of why have targets? The answer is complicated, and has been a matter for debate for many years. I assume that The Treasury wants some idea of both how the DfE will spent its cash on schemes it operates, and what the drawdown of student loans could be at its maximum. Both are legitimate questions for government to ask. For a number of years, I was part of a group that discussed these targets before they were released, in those days in the autumn as recruitment to the round was about to start. Now, I read them at the same time as everyone else.

The DfE commentary also notes that adjustments have been made for under-recruitment in certain subjects.

A key driver of whether the 2022/23 targets have increased/fallen for specific secondary subjects is the extent to which those targets have been adjusted to build in the impact of recruitment being below target in the two previous ITT rounds before 2022/23. 

An example of a subject where such an adjustment has been made is modern languages. In the previous two ITT rounds, recruitment for modern languages was below target, so we have increased the 2022/23 target for modern languages to account for this previous under-recruitment. This is the first time we have made such an adjustment for the subject, leading to modern languages having the largest percentage increase in targets this year.

For some subjects, the impact of previous under-recruitment against targets can be offset by other factors. A good example of this is mathematics, where we have seen a decrease in the 2022/23 target compared to last year’s target. Whilst the 2020/21 and 2021/22 PGITT targets for mathematics were not met, the impact of this under-recruitment was more than offset by increases in the numbers of PGITT trainees, returners, and teachers that are new to the state-funded sector being recruited. Furthermore, there was an increase in the proportion of mathematics trainees entering the workforce immediately after ITT.’

This comment from the DfE suggests that retraining courses for serving teachers in subjects such as mathematics might now be considered when calculating targets. It would have been interesting to have seen the worked example for mathematics in order to see which of factors was important in reducing the total to a number close to that for English. Certainly, TeachVac has recorded lower demand for mathematics this year than might have been expected.

Interestingly, in the list of factors affecting the calculation of the targets, the DfE focus on factors affecting inflows. It is not clear the extent to which the changing global marketplace for teachers affects ‘outflows’ and whether any pause due to the effects of covid may have only been a temporary reduction in the number of teachers departing these shores?

The issue of including the effects of under-recruitment in the current targets is an interesting one. Schools start each September fully staffed, so there is a risk that by including the shortfall from previous years in the new target the supply is inflated to a point where a proportion of trainees won’t find a teaching post. It would be interesting to see if these are mostly likely to be trainees with student loans not training through an employer managed route. The DfE will have that data. Inflated targets can also lead to places being provided in parts of the country where there are not jobs. This was a consequence of using this methodology in the 1990s.

At the present time, this consideration of whether to include a previous shortfall in the current target is merely an academic discussion in most subjects, since 2022 will most likely again see courses fail to hit even these revised targets where they have been lowered, except perhaps in Chemistry and possibly mathematics, both subjects where over-recruitment is permitted.

However, the methodology used in calculating targets via the Teacher Supply model (TSM) process may become more important for providers in coming years as pupil numbers stabilise and funding comes under pressure, especially if large salary increases to cop with high inflation are not fully funded by government.

There will be tough times ahead in the ITT world. Will schools want to stay involved and what will be the collective views of Vice Chancellors towards the DfE and ITT?

Bad News?

At the recent NfER webinar on the labour market for teachers some scarry numbers were banded around for this year’s applications for ITT postgraduate courses. On 30th March the DfE released the latest data on applications up to 21st March 2022. Initial teacher training application statistics for courses starting in the 2022 to 2023 academic year – Apply for teacher training – GOV.UK (apply-for-teacher-training.service.gov.uk) For comparison purposes, in 2021, the similar UCAS data was up to the 15th March, so this year’s data contains numbers from an extra week.

Despite the extra week compared with last year, overall candidate numbers at 23,264 are below the 27,170 cited as being domiciled in England in the March 2021 UCAS data. In reality, the DfE’s 23,264 includes around 3,000 domiciled outsides of England, including 514 from Northern Ireland and 2,000 from the EEA plus ‘rest of the world’. So, the domiciled in England number is perhaps no more than 23,500 at best. This would be more than 3,000 below the March 2021 number. Not good news.

Equally disturbing is that the decline in candidates from across the age ranges, with a notable decline in the 25 to 29 age group from 5,900 in 2021 to 4,684 this March. These are often career switchers dissatisfied with their initial career choice after graduation, and choosing teaching as a second career. One of the smaller reductions is in the youngest age group of those age 21 and under, where this year’s number is 4,227 compared with 4,490 in March 2021.

This year, there 6,525 men have applied to become a teacher, compared with 7,620 in March 2021. Female applicants are down from 18,930 to 16,525 for the same comparative period. Last year, by March 2021, 680 men had been ‘placed’ or what is now termed ‘recruited’. This year, 234 have been recruited by March. Fortunately, only 1,515 men has been unsuccessful so far with their applications, along with 2,619 of the 16,525 women.

Applications, as opposed to candidates, are down from 79,790 in March 2021 to 61,755 this year. Higher Education has had 29,566 applications this year compared with 37,050 in March 2021. Not surprisingly, apprenticeship applications are up from 1,680 last year to 2,397 this year. However, the School Direct salaried route only has 3,618 applications compared with 6,460 in 2021. Only 14 have been recruited to this route compared with 40 placed by March 2021. SCITT numbers at 8,458 compared with 9,490 seem more buoyant than the other school-based routes.

Providers across England are reporting lower regional numbers for applications, with London applications down from 16,740 to 14,277 and in the South East from 10,540 to 7,605. Only in the Yorkshire and The Humber Region does the fall seem smaller, at 7,052 compared with 7,980 in March 2021.

These number make for grim reading in a month where TeachVac recorded record numbers of vacancies for teachers posted by schools across England. The aims of the White Paper published earlier this week cannot be met if there are not enough teachers. I still think the NfER prediction for physics that less than 20% of the target number would be reached is alarming, but it is almost certain that the target will be missed for another year, and not only in physics, but also in a range of other subjects.

After 12 years in power at Westminster, a solution to the teacher supply problem must be found by the present government.

Teacher Supply Model more important than ever

Those readers that have browsed my recent posts will know that teacher education is facing one of those turning points in its history. Regardless of the policy approaches towards how teachers are prepared there are going to be implications on the sector from the downturn in pupil numbers.

The decline in the birth rate is already being felt in primary schools, with many admitting fewer pupils this September than for some years. Lucky the schools with a new housing estate being built in the catchment area. The DfE has estimated that by 2026 the overall population in the primary sector is projected to be 4,345,000. This is 302,000 lower than the actual figure in 2020 (4,647,000). Such a rapid reduction has serious implications for those that prepare new teachers for the profession.

Taking a teacher to pupil ratio of 1:30 that would mean there would be a need for 10,000 fewer teachers. Now real pupil teacher ratios are much better than that figure, so perhaps the drop might be 4,000 over the period 2020 to 2026. Assuming teacher departure rates don’t alter significantly, and that newly trained teacher are preferred over returners to the classroom, then a drop of 1,000 in training numbers might be an interesting starting point for any discussion.

Of course, the Teacher Supply Model can much more accurately process these changes and identify what the actual requirement for new teachers is likely to be. However, it seems that there will be a reduction in primary training numbers.

The decision must be where and what type of training; school-based or higher education? Course based or salaried? Across all providers or supporting either large or small providers? These are the policy questions that must rapidly be answered. For the longer the delay in reducing training targets, the worse the cut will be if the Teacher Supply Model has really abandoned any idea of smoothing reductions over a number of years and takes any change in the year that they occur.

The latest three year postgraduate numbers for Primary ITT places from the Teacher Supply Model were 12,975 in 2018/19; 13,003 in 2019/2020 and 11,467 in 20201/21. Now, the TSM only covers postgraduate teacher supply. Some providers with both undergraduate and postgraduate provision have, in the past, when there have been reductions in places, kept their undergraduate numbers and reduced postgraduate numbers. The rational for such a move is less based on relative quality of applicants than the fact that undergraduate courses generate more fee revenue than postgraduate courses and are relatively less expensive to deliver. This will be especially true with the latest set of proposals discussed in previous blogs.

Whether the current government will be willing to tolerate any change in quality of applicants due to how providers react to a fall in places available is an interesting policy question that merits some discussion. From the point of view of The Treasury, one-year courses cost the government less in student loans than undergraduate courses, but if those students displaced from undergraduate teacher training courses take other degrees and then a postgraduate teacher qualification, the overall cost can be higher.

By the middle of the decade, the secondary sector will be facing the dilemmas associated with falling pupil numbers, but since recruitment even in regulated subjects such as physical education has been at record levels, enforcing changes there might be even trickier than in the public sector. That is if the present market review hasn’t fundamentally altered the shape of teacher preparation provision in England.

Does the teacher preparation system work?

Fewer than 350 of the 2019/20 cohort of physics trainees were teaching in state schools according to the latest DfE ITT Performance data https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2019-to-2020 Apparently of the 533 physics trainees in that cohort only 83% were granted QTS and of that 83% or around 450 trainees only some 73%, or less than three-quarters, or some 350 new teachers were teaching physics in a state school. Such a number means that many secondary schools seeking to appoint a new teacher of physics would have been disappointed.

QTS levels were generally higher in 2020 in subjects where there were many more applicants than places on offer on preparation courses. Thus, 96% of PE trainees were granted QTS. However, so large was the over-supply of such trainees than only 64% found a teaching post in a state school. This disparity reveals the waste of money that training too many teachers can cause. The situation was little better in history, where only 70% of successful trainees were working in state schools.

Some of the successful trainees not shown as working in state schools will be employed in private schools, in the further education sector, including Sixth Form Colleges, or in international schools around the globe. Others will be undertaking further training or staying in higher education to conduct research. Some may qualify to obtain QTS but decide that teaching really isn’t for them.

However, the labour market for teachers in 2020 was affected by Covid and some may have been caught by the drop in recorded vacancies in the spring of 2020, especially in London, and thus been unable to find a teaching post.

Trainees in the Black ethnic group were least likely to obtain QTS, at 86% compared to 92% of the White group. Women were more likely to be awarded QTS than men. Asian teachers awarded QTS were the least likely to be working in a state school. The highest proportion of trainees working in state schools were to be found in London and the Home Counties, despite the drop in demand in this part of the country in 2020.

Training to be a teacher in the North East or North West meant a greater chance of not finding a teaching post in a state school. This is not a new phenomenon, but wastes public money if such teachers are unable to use the skills learnt on their teacher preparation courses. It seems that trainees from higher education establishments were least likely to be teaching in state schools. This could mean either that they failed to secure a teaching post or that that greater numbers from that route were working in the private sector in the international schools.

It is, perhaps, not surprising that teachers trained in school-based settings are more likely to find a teaching post, sometimes in the same school. Indeed, it is somewhat surprising that only 89% of those on apprenticeships and 87% of School Direct salaried trainees were measured as working in state schools. However, the percentage was substantially higher than for higher education where the bulk of trainees in subjects with the lowest rates of employment in state schools are located,   and where trainees have no prior loyalty to a particular school or indeed to state schools compared to independent schools.

The present system is not effective at placing trainees where needed using the least amount of public funds.

ITT applications looking good for September

Compared with January 2020, applications for postgraduate teaching courses through UCAS have increased by almost a quarter based on my analysis of the published January 2021 data.

 Interestingly, the lowest growth rate has been in applications from those potential new graduates aged 21 or less, where the percentage increase has been just 14%. However, this age group still comprises a significant proportion of the overall total. The biggest increase has been in the group aged 24, where the increase on 2020 is some 32%. It was almost as high, at 29%, in the 30-39 age group. This suggest that new graduates are not yet seeing teaching as a safe haven in a stormy sea, whereas older graduates, perhaps either furloughed or even made redundant, are considering teaching as a career choice in greater numbers than in recent years.

There are regional differences in the increase in applications, with the North East, where teaching jobs are always in short supply, witnessing an increase of only nine percent in applicants. London, with the most active graduate labour market, has seen an increase on 2020 of 39%, from 2,320 in January 2020 to 3,220 in January 2021.

 Compared with previous upturns in applications to train to teach, this year has seen a different trend to that in the past, with a 27% increase in the number of applications for secondary courses compared with just a 24% increase in applications for primary courses. In the past, the growth in the number of applications for primary courses has often exceeded that for secondary courses.

There remains far more interest in postgraduate apprenticeships in the primary sector than in the secondary sector, although even here numbers are low, and have not offset the decline in applications for School Direct Salaried places in the primary sector.

The higher education sector has seen a smaller increase in applications in the primary sector than either SCITT or School Direct fee courses, although overall there are still more applications for higher education based primary courses than for any other route.

In the secondary sector, there is less of a gap between the increases seen by the different routes, with higher education applications up by a quarter; SCITT applications increasing by 30% and School Direct Salaried courses increasing by 47% on January 2020, albeit from a very low base. School Direct fee courses experienced the smallest increase in applications, at only 24%. To some extent, these changes in applications in the secondary sector are driven by the mix of subjects applicants are seeking to teach and the availability of courses with place still available.

Among the main secondary subjects the number of applications shown as ‘placed’, ‘conditional placed’ or ‘holding offer’ is up on last January in most subjects. Exceptions are biology and geography, where for both subjects the total is down on the January 2020 number. For geography, this may be due to very high levels of offers in recent years leading to over-supply. In biology, with more applications for chemistry and physics, providers may not see the need to be as generous as in past years with offers to biology courses in order to ensure a sufficient supply of science teachers.

In physics, mathematics, design and technology, chemistry and business studies, the offers are at high levels than for any January since before January 2014. However, in design and technology, it is doubtful, even at this level, whether the required number of trainees will be recruited to satisfy the labour market in 2022. There must also be a doubt about the final outcome for physics numbers

Next month marks the point in the annual cycle where predications about the outcome can be made, based upon past trends, can normally be made with some degree of accuracy. Whether that will be the case this year, I am not sure, but check back in a month’s time to see what I say.

My guest blog for Oriel Square Publishing

By John Howson, chair of TeachVac and County Councillor in Oxfordshire. *This blog was written before the DfE’s announcement on 2nd January 2021 of a new Institute of Teaching.

2020 didn’t prove to be a happy 150th anniversary for state education in England. Hopefully, we will be able to look back on 2021 with better memories. One clear outcome from 2020 was the need to review methods of teaching and learning as pupils were forced to interact with their teachers remotely.

Teacher preparation

The oversight of the school system might have been better managed had there been a strong middle-tier between schools and policymakers.

For many years, too much of the preparation and professional development of teachers has been focused on looking backwards at the past rather than at understanding the possibilities offered by a very different future. The Covid-19 pandemic changed that approach overnight. Parents discovered the reality of teaching and school leaders had to invent new patterns of dialogue between their staff and pupils; often with little help from the government.

Indeed, the planning and oversight of the school system, fractured as it is between local authorities, stand-alone academies and Multi Academy Trusts, might have been better managed had there been a strong middle-tier in operation between schools and policymakers at Westminster.

The role of schools in teaching training

In the course of the past fifty years, the labour market for teachers has oscillated between periods of shortage and times of oversupply.

For many years, I have been an observer of the workings of the labour market for teachers. In the course of the past 50 years that I have been involved with schools in England, the labour market for teachers has oscillated between periods of shortage – occasionally of severe shortages of teachers – and other times where there has been an oversupply.

Under the coalition government, and especially under the stewardship of Michael Gove as Secretary of State for Education, schools were encouraged to be at the forefront of teacher supply. Traditional higher education routes of teacher preparation were out of favour, and narrowly missed disappearing altogether when faced with recruitment controls.

At its zenith, the ambitious School Direct salaried route into teaching accounted for 12% of postgraduate entrants into teacher training.

The ambitious School Direct salaried route into teaching reached its zenith in 2016/17 when such trainees accounted for 12% of postgraduate entrants into teacher training. By the government’s 202/21 training year census the same route only accounted for five per cent of trainees, despite a larger number of trainee places being available. …

To read the rest of the blog go to https://www.orielsquare.co.uk/blog/index.php/2021/01/05/teacher-training-putting-the-past-behind-us/

Employment based routes hit new lows

In a year when recruitment to teacher preparation courses was on the increase, any aim the government might have had to increase the share of school-based preparation courses has stalled. The government issued the annual census of trainees on teacher preparation courses today.https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2020-to-2021

I am not a great fan of the new way of presenting statistics, and especially of the challenges it present when trying to create specific tables. However that aside, the key points are that as expected: trainee numbers are up, but that not all subjects met the Teacher Supply Model number for the year. Regular readers of this blog will not be surprised by that fact as I had predicted that would be the case, despite the increase in applications in the March to September period.

Higher Education, no doubt helped by the offer of both undergraduate and postgraduate places, increased its share of the market from 38% to 41%. Still way off its former levels, but no longer on a downward trend. School Direct Salaried route, the classic employment based route, was the big faller; down from 7% to 5% this year. Teach First took 4% against 5% last year. SCITTs held steady at 12% as did the Fee-based School Direct route at 23% of the total.

Some tables produced today by the DfE may include the small number of trainees forecast to join courses after the census date, but the differences are small.

Future blogs will explore the data in more details, but arts and humanities, and some subjects that have recruited poorly in recent years, have done well, even if in the case of Design and Technology and Physics and Chemistry, mathematics and Modern Languages they still did not meet the Teacher Supply Model number for the year.

The increase in Physics from 42% to 45% of the TSM number was especially disappointing, but not surprising.

Of more concern to those on courses and HM Treasury must be the over-recruitment in history –up from 115% to 175% of target and Physical Education, up from 105% to 135%. In these subjects, all trainees will struggle to find teaching posts in England in 2021 and it would be ironic if the government is funding teacher preparation for teachers forced to work overseas to practice their professional skills due to a lack of teaching posts in England.

Primary courses also over-recruited to target, and some may struggle in some parts of the country to find teaching posts for September or at the end of undergraduate courses if the decline in school rolls continues.