The Perfect Storm – running out of teachers

First the supply side. The number of training places is being cut sharply and there is also a simultaneous attempt to transfer capacity to a new school based model. The schools may be keen and able to train teachers but at the current time of shrinking budgets and with major threats to the system headteachers have their minds on other things.

The Teaching School solution seems to be running out of steam with around 120 interested in this round (compared to the 1000 or so from round 1), many of these no doubt unsuccessful from the earlier application round. It is not clear how many of the Teaching Schools have either the capacity, experience or inclination to train teachers for schools other than their own. Wth some University Departments and EBITTs (GTP providers) falling below optimum numbers we could also see a domino effect of closures.

Add to this mix the inevitable regional variations – typically the more challenging parts of the country where it is much harder to attract and to train teachers. These areas will be the hardest hit. It is frustrating that there is no co-ordinated or longer term thinking by either local, regional or national bodies – if schools don’t have a full compliment of staff, standards are bound to fall and with them the economic and social prospects of the whole area.

It looks as if we are going to need a new model for staffing schools.


A new deal for Initial Teacher Training

we need some radical new thinking on the subject……..

The reason for this need is clear. For schools to take a more central role in ITT, more resources will be required. If this doesn’t happen (and the current School Direct proposal to channel all the funds initiially through ITT Providers and the modest funding of Teaching Schools, are not encouraging portents in this respect), we are in danger of seeing the dismantling of the HEI led ITT system without securing a proper replacement.

In addition to addressing the funding/resources issues, we also need to make it easier for departments to support trainees (particularly in Maths and Science). But first a few thoughts about the funding question.

The economics of ITT have always been shrouded in a little mystery. We are not sure of the true cost to schools of training and we are not sure about the real impact and advantage of an activity that most of us regard as of universal benefit. The contribution of ITT to standards, recruitment and retention elude accurate quantification.Without such a clear cost benefit, Head teachers  may continue to steer clear of ITT developments.

Some schools are experimenting with ideas as to how trainees might make a greater contribution. Perhaps the future model needs to run something like this: trainees are appointed in March and during April, May and June they could be expected to spend some time supporting, in school, after school and electronically, groups of pupils in Years 6, 11 or 13. Between March and September completion of on line Subject Knowledge Enhancement would be required. Training then runs from  September until July with a substantial teaching/covering commitment in the Summer Term. High quality trainees can make a substantial contribution to the performance of a school. A group of schools would need to collaborate to achieve economies of scale with placements, mentoring and tutoring. PGCE could be accredited at a reasonable cost and at the choice and expense of the trainee. The bulk of ITT funding has then to follow the trainee into the school. We need to be able to demonstrate that having trainees is a clear advantage to schools.

Any innovations would need to be properly externally evaluated for impact, but this type of arrangement might just attract the attention of Headeatchers.  The current situation provides a unique opportunity for leading ITT schools to shift the paradigm.


An ITT Quality Mark

This is an interesting time for Initial Teacher Training as we await the response to the Green paper, which proposed a greater,central role for schools. Now is the time to look at how you manage your school’s ITT and check the quality of your work. The likelihood is that ITT will become concentrated in fewer partnerships of schools and providers and that any body wishing to be involved must be able to provide evidence of high quality work and outcomes as trainers.

I have worked with colleagues at ICLICITT to develop a countrywide service to support ITT. A copyright quality mark, based on the standards of practice of over 200 leading ITT schools, together with OFSTED and TDA requirements is now available to provide an important target for schools. Please visit: