ITT Applications: Some surge; some not yet

Applications to subjects such as art and design and business studies have shown some of the largest increases in applications over the period between mid-March and mid-April– note this isn’t the same as an in applicants, because applicants may make a number of applications to different courses.

There have also been increases in subjects such as chemistry; mathematics; music, religious education, many of the European Languages and Computing. On the other hand, applications for design and technology; drama and history have remained at similar levels to last year. There are actually fewer applications for both physical education and geography, continuing the trend seen earlier in the year. Perhaps the most disappointing number, is revealed in the fact that applications for physics courses have also remained flat, at just some twenty or so applications below last April.

In terms of applications to the different sectors, the extra applicants have targeted the secondary sector; where applications are up from 40,560 in April 2019, to 43,270 this April. By way of contrast, applications for the primary sector courses fell from 32,350 in April 2019, to 31,920 this April.

Most of the extra applications are concentrated in and around London, with the East of England; South East and London regions accounting for the 680 of the 710 or so additional applicants. The number of applicants registered in the North East was actually below the April 2019 number; falling from 1,350 to 1,310. Although more applicants were registered in all age groups, the increase in those in the 30-39 age group, from 4,160 to 4,310 stands out as worthy of note. Relatively few new graduates have so far chosen to apply, as might be expected at this point in their courses, even though they may be facing a great degree of uncertainty over their futures.

The School Direct Salaried route and higher education courses seem to have borne the brunt of the decline in applications for primary sector places, with the Apprenticeship and School Direct Fee courses recording increases, and SCITT applications remaining broadly the same as last April.

In the secondary sector, all routes have recorded more applications, with higher education and School Direct fee courses experiencing the greatest increases.

As a result of the increase in applications to the secondary sector, there is little point in discussing the number of offers that have been made in the different subjects, as it is too early to tell anything about the quality of the additional applicants. However, as I hinted in last month’s report, this recruitment round is likely to take on a very different outlook than was being predicted even as recently as February. Indeed, it may well turn out to be the best recruitment round in some subjects since 2013.

My best guess is that with the increased number of those seeking benefits after being made redundant, and the possibility of some graduates having employment offers withdrawn as firms struggle to reduce their costs, we will see further increases in applications over the next couple of months.

Will the DfE consider the need for recruitment controls once again, in order to ensure government expenditure on student loans does not exceed a certain level as part of the need to cap some areas of government spending? Might some bursaries come under threat as part of any package of emergency changes forced upon the government?

 

 

 

 

Should trainee teachers be job hunting?

Laura MCInerney the teacher turned editor turned commentator, and also a successful businesswoman has been discussing the question of whether trainee teachers will want to apply for jobs since their training having been so disturbed?

As a former teacher trainer, and someone that has spent many years studying trends in teacher supply I have two observations on this question. Firstly, by the end of Term 2 of their preparation most graduates fall into one of three categories; those that can be told that providing that they keep up their momentum they will pass the course and can apply for jobs if they haven’t been snapped up by the schools where they have already been working; secondly, the small group where either the selection process failed or some other factor has intervened to ensure the trainee is highly unlikely to successfully complete the course. Clearly, even in normal circumstances this group won’t be expect to be applying for teaching posts, or if they do, then their reference might not be fully supportive and draw attention to the challenges they have faced. Finally there is a small group not yet ready to be told that they ‘not yet ready to be on track to complete the course successfully’. This group might be helped to identify their needs by a supportive final term , whether to develop those classroom skills or hone their planning or assessment abilities. This group might want to defer applying for a job, but then they would in any other year be likely to be advised to do so.

The anxiety is no doubt over whether the third term learning will take place, but I don’t see why the manner in which trainees adapt to the changed , and the work currently being undertaken, should not be regarded as just as valuable as the normal curriculum of teacher preparation.

No doubt of more concern in the minds of trainees is whether the job market for teachers, that is still operating, albeit at a much reduced pace than normal for late April, will be swamped with returners to teaching that have lost their current source of income? Such is the normal pattern of events in a recession, and schools have to weigh up the value of trainees over the experience either former teachers or teachers returning from abroad can offer.

Because of the risk of an avalanche of returning teachers seeking a teaching post, I would suggest trainees don’t delay making applications and that they cast their net as wide as possible, especially if they are training for the primary sector or are history or PE teachers. Such vacancies may be in short supply and competition will be fierce.

As ever, I suggest using TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk where I am Chairman to search for vacancies. It’s free and as far as England is concerned more comprehensive that the DfE site, as TeachVac contains both state and private school vacancies.

Good luck with job hunting whether you are a trainee looking for your first job; a current teacher seeking to change jobs or a returner for whatever reason.

 

Are new graduate entrants to teaching still predominantly young, white and female?

In the Summer of 1996, I contributed an article to a special edition of Education Review – produced by the NUT’s (now the NEU) Education and Equal Opportunities Unit – this special issue was entitled ‘reasserting equal opportunities’ and my contribution was on the issue of equal opportunities in teacher training. I concluded that article by asking the question; “young, white and female, is this the picture of the average new entrant to the profession?” (Howson, 1996)

How much has changed since then? Is that picture of the new entrant still recognisable today? This question is especially interesting, as during the intervening two decades the undergraduate route into teaching has reduced almost to nothing for secondary trainees, and by a considerable margin for those wanting to train as a primary school teacher. At the same time, the various employment-based routes such as FastTrack and the GTP (graduate Teacher Programme) have come and gone, although Teach First has stayed the course and wasn’t in existence in the 1990s. School Direct as well as apprenticeships have appeared on the scene.

My original article used data from the middle of a recruitment cycle. For this comparative piece, I have chosen to look at either end of cycle data, or DfE data about the workforce, where comparable data about trainees no longer exists in the public domain.

The late 1990s were a period similar to 2019 with teacher training providers struggling to fill all the targets for training places set them by the then Teacher Training Agency (TTA) on behalf of the government’s Department for Education and Employment, as the DfE was then known. As I wrote in the 1996 article:

“Teacher Training is entering a period of rapid growth…. The challenge may be just to fill as many places as possible if graduate recruitment in the wider labour market remains buoyant. “ Howson, 1996, 36)

Such a comment could also easily have been made about the 2018/19 recruitment round.

The first criteria considered in the original article was that of the age of applicants. In 1997, as now, UCAS was responsible for managing the application process for graduate trainees into teaching. In those days it was through the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR), part of the UCAS Small Systems Department.  These days, the process is no longer handled by a separate department with its own Board and structure, but is part of the main UCAS system.

Although different age bands are now used for age groupings it is possible to consider three groups of applicants by age; those in their 20s, 30s, and 40 and above.

Table1: Percentage of Applicants to Postgraduate Teacher Training by Gender

1997 2019 Difference 2019 on 1997
Male Female Male Female Male Female
20s 23 52 21 47 -2 -5
30s 7 11 6 12 -1 1
40+ 2 5 5 9 3 4
Total 32 68 32 68 0 0

Source: GTTR Annual Report 1997 and UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A

Interestingly, the profile of applicants is now older than it was in 1997. There has been a reduction in the share of applicants in their 20s, and an increase in the share of older applicants in their 40s or 50s. However, the change in profile might have been expect to have been in the other direction with the loss of many undergraduate training places meaning young would-be teachers might have been expected to seek a training place on graduation..

Nevertheless, because there are more applicants overall in 2019 than in 1997, there were more actual applicants from these younger age groups in 2018/19, but not enough to increase their share of the overall total of applicants.

There were some 9,159 applicants in the 20-22 age bracket out of a total of 33,612 applicants in 1997, but by 2019, the number had increased to 10.960 out of the total of 40,540 applicants.

How likely were applicants of different ages to be offered a place on a course?

In the 1997 group, there was a clear association of offers of a training place with the age group of the applicant

Table 2: Percentage of Age Groupings Offered a Place on a Postgraduate Teaching Course in 1997

Age-grouping Offers Applicants % offers
20-22 5857 9159 64%
23-24 4150 7071 59%
25-26 2599 4499 58%
27-28 1397 2576 54%
29-30 964 1865 52%
31-35 1807 3489 52%
36-40 1352 2598 52%
41-45 766 1480 52%
46-50 308 655 47%
50+ 97 155 63%
Total 19297 33547 58%

Source: GTTR Annual Report 1997

Altogether, around two thirds of the youngest and new graduates were offered a place compared with less than half of graduates in the 46-50 age-grouping. The percentage for the very small number of those over 50 seeking to train as a teacher suggests that many may have sought pre-selection before submitting a formal application to train.

Interestingly, by 2019, the same pattern of a decline in the percentage of applicants made an offer by increasing age group still held good. However   the percentage of applicants being made an offer was much higher, especially among the older age-groupings. For instance, although there was only a 14% increase in the percentage of the youngest group made an offer, the increase for those in their late 20s was around the 20% mark. However, the increase for applicants in their 40s was less at between 8-13%.

Table 3: Percentage of Age Groupings Offered a Place on a Postgraduate Teaching Course in 2019

Age -Grouping Offers total % offers
21 4240 5430 78%
22 4180 5530 76%
23 3320 4370 76%
24 2420 3280 74%
25-29 6600 9150 72%
30-39 4420 6950 64%
40+ 3470 5830 60%
Total 28650 40540 71%

Source: UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A (Based upon total of applicants Placed; Conditionally Placed or Holding an offer – By September only 120 applicants were still holding an offer)

The changes in approaches to the teacher training landscape between 1997 and 2019, including the reduction of undergraduate places in both primary and secondary courses and the shift post-2010 to a more overtly school-led system, does not significantly seem to have altered the attitude to older applicants.

The case can be made that all age-groupings seem to have benefited from the change, but this would be to ignore the increase in demand for teachers in the period leading up to 2019, as the school population increased once again, firstly in the primary sector and more recently in the lower secondary years.

Sadly, it isn’t possible to identify trends in individual subjects at this point in time because UCAS no longer publishes a breakdown of applicants by subject, as was the case in 1997. The statistics are available for ‘applications’, but not for applicants, even at the macro level of the primary and secondary sectors. However, they are available for the regional level; a piece of data not provided in 1997.

Table 4: Percentage of Applicants Offered a Place 2019

Region Offers Total % Offers
North East 1540 2060 75%
Yorkshire & The Humber 3090 4160 74%
East Midlands 2370 3250 73%
West Midlands 3400 4700 72%
South West 2520 3500 72%
East of England 2950 4100 72%
South East 4050 5640 72%
North West 3730 5520 68%
London 4820 7630 63%
Total 28470 40560 70%

Source: UCAS Monthly data for September 2019 Report A (Based upon total of applicants Placed; Conditionally Placed or Holding an offer – By September only 120 applicants were still holding an offer)

This is not a precise measure, because it depends upon a number of different variables, including the pattern of applications across the year and the available number of different places in each secondary subject and in the primary sector there were to be filled in each region. However, since most secondary subjects did not have recruitment controls in places during the 2018/19 recruitment round, the latter concern may be less important as a factor than the former.

It is worth noting that London, the region with the greatest demand for new teachers from both the state and private sector schools, had the lowest offer ratio to applicants of any region in the country. By way of contrast, the North East, where vacancies are probably at much lower levels, had the highest percentage of applicants offered a place. One reason for this may be that the graduate labour market in London is much better developed than in the North East. As a result, applicants to teaching may be of a higher quality in the North East than in London, where there are more opportunities for new graduates to secure work. More applicants in the North East may also apply earlier when courses still have vacancies. However, this has to be just speculation.

The third aspect of the original article dealt with the race of applicants to teacher training. In 1997, UCAS produced excellent data about applicants and their declared ethnic backgrounds. In the 2018/19 monthly data from UCAS there is no information about this aspect of applicants. In some ways this is understandable, since the population is much more complex in nature now than it was even 20 years ago. There are more graduates that have family backgrounds that would lead them to identify as of more than one grouping. However, this lack of regular data does mean that it isn’t easily possible to determine whether all applicants are treated equally.

In the 1996 article, I wrote that:

“It is clear that members of some ethnic groups are less likely to find places on PGCE courses than white applicants.” I added that “These figures are alarming” and that “If graduates with appropriate degrees are being denied places on teacher training courses in such numbers, much more needs to be known about the reasons why.” During the period 2008-2011, I was asked to conduct two, unpublished, studies for the government agency responsible for training teachers (Howson, 2008, 2011). Sadly, the conclusion of both studies was that little had changed in this respect.

Fortunately, it seems as if more graduates form ethnic minority groups are now entering teaching. Data from the government’s annual census of teacher training reveals that between 2014/15 and 2018/19 the percentage of trainees from a minority ethnic group increased from 13% to 19% of the total cohort.

Table 5: Minority Ethnic Groups as a Percentage of Postgraduate Trainees

Postgraduate new entrants Postgraduate percentages
Trainee Cohort Total Minority ethnic group Non-minority ethnic group  Minority ethnic group Non-minority ethnic group
2014/15 24893 3178 21715 13% 87%
2015/16 26957 3873 23084 14% 86%
2016/17 25733 3753 21980 15% 85%
2017/18 26401 4113 22288 16% 84%
2018/19 27742 4917 22825 18% 82%
2019/20p 27675 5168 22507 19% 81%

Source: DfE Initial Teacher Training Censuses

In numeric terms, this mean an increase of some 2,000 trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds during this period.

Although UCAS no longer provides in-year data about ethnicity of applicants, there is some data in their end of year reporting about the level of acceptances for different ethnic groups.

In the 1996 article, there was a Table showing the percentage of unplaced applicants to PGCE courses by ethnic groups in the three recruitment rounds from 1993 to 1995. What is striking about both that table, and the table below for the four years between 2014-2017 that presents the data on the percentages of ethnic groups accepted rather than unplaced, is that in both of the tables, graduates from the Black ethnic group fare less well than do White or Asian applicants. Indeed, the overwhelmingly large White group of applicants had the lowest percentage of unplaced applicants in the 1990s, and the highest rate of placed applicants in the four years from 2014-2017.

In the original article I noted that “39% of the Black Caribbean group [of applicants] accepted were offered places at three of the 85 institutions that received applications form members of this ethnic group. Thirty-nine out of the 85 institutions accepted none of the applicants from this group that applied to them.” Although we no longer have the fine grain detail of sub-groups within this ethnic grouping, nothing seems to have significantly changed during the intervening period.

Table 6: Percentage Rate of Acceptances for Postgraduate trainee Teachers

2014 2015 2016 2017
Asian 39 47 44 48
Black 27 34 30 35
Mixed 49 56 51 55
White 56 64 61 64
Other 31 38 37 39
Unknown 46 53 48 52

Source: UCAS End of Cycle reports.

Using the data from the government performance tables for postgraduate trainees, it seems that a smaller percentage of trainees from ethnic minorities received QTS at the standard time when compared to those from the non-minority community, with the percentages of those trainees both not awarded or not yet completing being greater for the trainees from the minority ethnic groups.

Table 7: Success of Postgraduate Trainee Teachers by Ethnicity

2017/18   Trainees Percentage awarded QTS Percentage yet to complete Percentage not awarded QTS Teaching in a state school Percentage of those awarded QTS teaching in a state school
Ethnicity Minority 4,311 88% 6% 6%  3,014 80%
Non-minority 22,861 92% 3% 4%  17,022 81%
Unknown 706 90% 4% 6%  503 79%

Source: DfE database of trainee teachers and providers and school Workforce Census

However, the percentage reported as working in a state school was similar at 80% for ethnic minority trainees and 81% for non-ethnic minority trainees. As there are no data for trainees working in either the independent sector or further education institutions including most Sixth Form Colleges, it isn’t clear whether the overall percentage in teaching is the same of whether or not there is a greater difference?

Conclusion

So what has changed in the profile of graduates training to be a teacher during the twenty years or so between 1997 and 2019? The percentage of trainees from minority ethnic groups within the cohort has increased. However we know their chances of becoming a teacher are still lower than for applicants from the large group of applicants classified as White as their ethnic group..

The pool of trainees is still overwhelmingly female, although there has been a shift in the age profile towards older trainees. This last change has implications, both good and more challenging, for the profile of the teaching profession. Career changers may be more likely to remain in teaching for the rest of their working lives than some young new graduates with little or no experience of the world of work. However, older trainees may reduce the possible pool of new school leaders unless those making appointments are prepared to offer leadership positions to older candidates.

However, all this may be of little more than academic interest in the present situation of a pandemic. How fast the graduate labour market, recovers, especially in London, will be a key determination of how the teacher labour market performs over the next few years and whether the gender, age and ethnic profile of those applying and accepted to become trainee teachers alters from its current composition.

Nevertheless, there are issues, not least around the ability of those graduates from some ethnic groups to access teaching as a career. There is also the continued under-representation of men seeking to join the teaching profession, but they are then over-represented in the leadership roles within education. How the government addresses the issue of equal opportunities in teaching as a profession also continues to be a matter of concern.

John Howson

Oxford April 2020

Correspondence to: johnohowson@gmail.com

Bibliography

DfE (2018) Database of trainee teachers. Accessed on 7th April 2020 at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2017-to-2018

DfE (2018) School Workforce Census.  Accessed on 7th April 2020 at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2018

Howson, J. (1996). Equal opportunities and initial teacher training. In Education Review Volume 10, Number 1. London: NUT.

GTTR (Graduate Teacher Training Registry). (1997) Annual Report Cheltenham: UCAS.

UCAS (2018). End of cycle data. Author’s private collection.

UCAS (2019). September 2019 Monthly Report A & B of applicants and applications to courses. Author’s private collection

Problem not yet solved

Data from the second monthly report on applications and acceptances for postgraduate teacher preparation courses shows little overall change for last year. The trend is still not good, with 10,270 applicants domiciled in England as at 16th December 2019, compared with 10,820 on the corresponding date in 2018 and 11,430 in 2017. The good news is that there are more applicants this year from London and the surrounding regions, and the fall in numbers is more marked in applicants from the north of England where filling teacher vacancies has been less of an issue.

There are fewer applicants in all of the age groups compared with last year, and those shown as ‘age 22’ numbered just 1,510 this December compared with 1,910 in December two years ago. There are nearly 500 fewer women applicants this December, and 150 fewer male applicants. Male applicants make up less than a third of applicants in December 2019.

Fewer applicants also means fewer applications. Total applications were down in December, from 30,930 in 2018, to 29,330 in 2019. In 2017, the number of applications in December was over 33,000. Although it will concern providers, the fact that the bulk of the reduction in applications is for primary ITT courses; down from 14,720 in 2018 to 13,380 in 2019 will be something of a relief to the DfE, as the falling birth rate means fewer primary teachers are likely to be needed in the next few years that is unless schools receive a large cash injection for more teachers, rather than more pay for existing staff.

Applications for secondary courses at 15,950 were only 150 down on 2018 and very similar to the December 2017 figure of 16,070. Most subjects were at similar levels in terms of offers made by mi-December although art, design & technology, mathematics and Religious Education were slightly ahead of their 2018 position. By contrast, geography was slightly worse than in 2018 and acceptances for modern languages notably so. Is this the first sign of a reaction to Brexit? Certainly overall application levels for languages courses seem well down on last year.

Apprenticeships are the route in primary with more applications in December 2019 than in December 2018. Higher Education seems to be a major loser, with applications down from 6,150 in 2018 to 5,570 in December 2019. In December 2017, Higher Education had recorded 7,870 applications. In the secondary sector, both SCITTs and apprenticeships registered small increases in December 2019 over the previous December figure. All other routes were broadly similar to the previous December.

Hopefully, the government’s recruitment advertising campaign will improve matters in 2020, but compared to the defence forces, I have seen relatively little recruitment advertising for teaching over the festive period. This is despite the massive difference in recruitment needs between teaching and the whole of the armed forces.

If there is not a pickup in early 2020 in the number of applicants into secondary subjects, 2020 will begin to look like another year when training targets are not met and schools will have to make up the shortfall in teachers from other sources. With increasing pupil numbers, the need for more teachers is going to be an on-going challenge for secondary schools.

 

If nurses, why not teachers?

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?

Secondary PG 2013/14 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19 2019/2020
HE 7318 7193 7105 7965 7913
SCITT 1270 1794 1970 2435 2452
SD Fee 2646 3181 3822 4307 3870 4170 4678
SD Salaried 1244 1197 1475 1409 1080 905 677
Teach First 1107 953 895 760 1215
Grad Apprentice 0 0 0 20 43

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.

 

ITT Census 2019: few surprises

The DfE published the ITT Census this morning https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2019-to-2020 I suspect that it escaped the purdah rules as it is an annual publication and the date was announced well in advance.

Regular readers of this column, and especially those that read my post earlier in the autumn predicating the outcome, will find few surprises in the data. Indeed, most of my conclusions for the 2020 labour market for teachers still stand.

The headline news is that only English; PE; Biology; history and geography recruited more trainees across all platforms than the DfE’s Teacher Supply Model suggested would be required at postgraduate level. Design & Technology; Computing; Religious Education and music all had better years than last year, but still failed to pull in enough trainees to meet likely demand from schools in 2020 as measured by the DfE Model.

Mathematics; Modern Foreign Languages; Physics; Chemistry; Art & Design and Business Studies all recruited a lower percentage of those seen as needed than they achieved last year. English and PE were also in that category, but still pulled in more than 100% of identified need. In both cases, this may cause problems in 2020, especially if the DfE number has been pitched too low, as it almost certainly has in English.

Overall, thanks to the 26% increase in history numbers; the 34% increase in geography – where the DfE number was reduced, but a lack of recruitment controls meant a similar number of trainees was recruited to last year – and Religious Education where there was a surge in trainee numbers this year to a level last seen before 2013, overall secondary trainee numbers increased by 2% to 17,098 from 16,327 last year. That’s 85% of target compared with 83% last year.

As predicted by many providers, recruitment to primary postgraduate courses fell below target at 98%, down from 103% last year. The 12,400 recruited is the second lowest number of recruits for primary postgraduate courses in the past five years. .

Undergraduate numbers continued to fall, with 4,777 primary and just 184 secondary students shown as new entrants. Some 75 of the secondary entrants at undergraduate level are on PE degree courses. The only other subject worthy of note is Mathematics, with 59 undergraduates.

So, what else can we glean from the data? Taken together, primary and secondary postgraduate entrants hit a new low in percentage terms this year when compared to the DfE target; only 89% of target. That’s two per cent down on last year, and is due entirely to the fall in the primary percentage against target.

Men accepted onto primary postgraduate courses hit a new six year low, at just 2,153 compared with 2,415 last year and 2,852 in 2014/15. However, there were more men starting secondary courses, up from 6,285 last year to 6,587 this year, the highest number since before 2014/15. However, it still means that men account for only 17% of primary and 39% of secondary trainees this year.

Minority ethic entrants also reached a new high this year at 19% of postgraduate entrants and broke through the 5,000 level for the first time. Numbers were also up at undergraduate level as well.

Under 25s still account for 50% of new postgraduate entrants, but, as predicted earlier this year, numbers for the 25-29 age group were slightly down on last year. This was compensated for by a rise in the number of those over 45 starting ITT postgraduate courses. The 1%increase in those declaring a disability was also a new record.

Non-UK EEA nationals represented 5% of postgraduate recruitment, the same as in recent years. The percentage for ‘other nationals’ increased to three per cent, while UK national fell to 92% of postgraduate trainee numbers.

There is more to mine from this data, but that will form the basis for another post.

 

Gifts may not be the same as presents

As many readers of this blog will know, the DfE is planning a new digital application service for prospective trainee teachers. Apart from being trendy, I am not sure what the word ‘digital’ adds to the title, as surely nobody would create a new paper-based application service these days.

You can read about the service at https://dfedigital.blog.gov.uk/2019/09/05/testing-apply/ The new service will eventually replace the existing service run by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), probably by the start of the application round for 2021 courses, if the trial stages go well.

Now, I have had my differences with UCAS over the present system, introduced when I sat on a Committee representing ITT interests as an independent member. Some of my concerns seems to be being replicated by the DfE in designing their system. However, I have a much more fundamental concern than the design of the system about the DfE’s proposal. UCAS isn’t a government body. Instead, it is owned by its members. The new system will transfer ownership of the postgraduate application process for teaching to the government.

Is that change of ownership a good idea? Certainly, it will directly save both candidates and the providers of courses money as, like the DfE teacher recruitment service, it will be free at the point of delivery. It am sure it will also be well designed.

However, ownership of the process will then be in the hands of politicians and not the providers. Imagine a future government that recognises the need to balance supply and demand for teachers across the country and closes off courses when sufficient applications have been received, but before providers have made their choice of applicants. This could force later applicants to choose from the remaining courses that are short of applicants. Now, in some ways this is similar to the recruitment controls imposed upon the sector a few years ago. Any such regulation might reduce the freedom of providers to select candidates. You could envisage other interventions.

The DfE team running the service will need to know a great deal about the complexities of the teacher preparation market. If it is an in-house set-up at the DfE, what oversight will there be? Is there to be an advisory board or some other form of governance structure or will the system just be run by a changing stream of civil servants, supervised by a senior policy officer and just keeping ‘in contact’ with the providers?

As a government function, the application service will always be subject to Ministerial oversight and direction. Whether that is a ‘good thing’ or not will depend upon your views about services run by government. Certainly, as a public service, there should be more data available than is currently the case with the UCAS service.

It is also worth recalling that the DfE ran the admissions process for School Direct in 2013 and allowed me to comment in May of that year about the state of applications in a post entitled Applications Good: Acceptances better. https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/applications-good-acceptances-better/

As Ed Dorrell of the Tes remarked at the NABTT Conference, during his talk on teacher supply, Ministers don’t like talking about a crisis, and my analysis of the data that year certainly landed me in hot water, as anyone that reads the August 2013 posts on this blog can discover.

Whatever I think, the DfE is presenting the new system to the sector. I just hope it is a gift worth receiving.