When the late Frank Dobson managed to secure bursaries for trainee nurses, David Blunkett failed to do the same for trainee teachers. However, postgraduate trainees did have their fees paid, and undergraduate trainees were no worse off than any other undergraduates under the tuition fee regime introduced by the Labour government.
Come the recruitment crisis of the Millennium, and the training grant appeared, backed by additional payments of Golden Hellos to some trainees. These moves, alongside an expansion of the employment-based routes through the Graduate Teacher Training Programme helped expand trainee numbers for a few years. Whether there would have been a new recruitment crisis had the financial firestorm of 2008 not emerged is an interesting issue for debate.
However, as first predicted by the blog in the early part of 2013, a new crisis of recruitment into teaching did finally emerge, even though some Ministers were reluctant to admit its existence at first. At the same time, the revolution in education in England, started under Labour and prosecuted and extended by Michael Gove when he was Secretary of State for Education, saw not only the development of the academy and free school progamme, but also a determined switch away from higher education institutions the main trainer of teachers towards a school-led model.
Indeed, at one point it seemed as if the Coalition government might create a situation where universities, and especially the Russell Group universities involved in teacher education, ceased to have direct responsibility for the preparation of future generations of teachers. The issue of recruitment controls and the fate of the history preparation programme at the University of Cambridge probably marked a watershed moment.
Anyway, Mr Gove moved on, to be succeeded by a succession of relatively short-term holders of the officer of Secretary of State for Education. None seemed to have an abiding passion for the future shape of the school system and its teachers.
So, what has happened to the different routes for preparing graduates to become secondary school teachers?
The move towards a school-led system has continued, but not at any great pace. Indeed, numbers on the School Direct Salaried route, the de facto successor the GTTP programme has fallen away by this year to only around half of the peak level reached in 2015/16. The new Graduate Apprenticeship Route has yet to make any real impact on numbers, and even SCITTs have failed to recruit many more recruits after their growth spurt up to 2018/19. Only the School Direct fee route seems to be in good health, although even on this route the growth has not been spectacular. Indeed, higher education is still the one dominant route.
Does this plethora of routes make it more difficult to attract new entrants to teaching or perhaps offer choices? I debated this in my evidence to the Carter Review, posted elsewhere on this blog. However, it seems more likely that singling out graduate trainee teachers for financial punishment makes teaching seem the least desirable public sector employment opportunity.
This blog has been resolute in calling for the return of a training grant for all graduate trainee teachers: I see no reason for changing that view now, especially since nurses are once again receiving financial help from the government.