29 July 2013

million+ warns MPs of threat to future teacher supply

In evidence to the Education Select Committee the university think-tank million+ warns that the system of planning teacher training in England has broken down, risking a teacher shortage in the future. Under the Department for Education’s School Direct programme, 9000 teacher training places were transferred from universities to schools in 2012-13 with an expectation that schools would recruit trainee teachers who would commence training in September 2013. At the end of the summer term, it is estimated that just under half of these places (45%) were unfilled with many specialist shortage subject trainee places vacant.

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of the university think-tank million+, said: ‘School Direct was introduced without any robust assessment of its impact on teacher supply’.

‘Ministers say that schools should lead the commissioning of teacher training but it is clear that this will not guarantee the number of trained teachers that will be needed by schools across the country in the future. 

‘By the end of next year, 3000 fewer teachers are likely to have been trained risking a crisis in teacher recruitment at the very time that the school population is rising ’.

‘Universities that have run very successful programmes to enhance the expertise of prospective teachers in key specialist shortage subjects are not being allocated numbers.

‘The combined impact of the new Ofsted regime under which fewer schools are being classed as outstanding, new rules which debar universities rated as good  teacher training providers from having any guarantee of training numbers and the transfer of places to schools which are clearly finding it difficult to recruit suitable applicants has created a triple whammy.

‘As a result the national system for planning and delivering an adequate number of qualified and trained teachers has broken down.

‘Universities which have been at the heart of high quality teacher training are being side-lined and expected to take all the risks with no guarantee of training numbers. This is clearly untenable.

‘MPs should be very concerned that well-regarded higher education providers will pull the plug on teacher training altogether because of the uncertainty that has been created.

‘Rather than expand the programme, School Direct numbers should be reduced in 2014-15 and a national strategy agreed to bring some stability and common-sense back into the system'.


Notes to Editors
1. For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Pam Tatlow on 020 7717 1655 or 07795645241
2. million+ is a leading university think-tank. More information about million+ can be found at www.millionplus.ac.uk
3. The Education Select Committee of the House of Commons will hold an evidence session on the impact of School Direct in September. The million+ evidence to the Select Committee’s Inquiry can be found here