Summary: Teaching training and supply debate: 22nd October 2013

Summary: Teacher training and supply debate:  22nd October 2013

Hot on the heels of Nick Clegg’s comments at the weekend (that only qualified teachers should be allowed to teach in schools), a Westminster Hall debate on teacher training and supply was led by Bill Esterton MP (Sefton Central) on 22nd October.

The debate covered a range of issues including: unqualified teachers, recruitment onto School Direct, the future of universities in initial teacher training (including concerns around funding and capacity as the school-led route grows and a new OFSTED regime of ITT inspection becomes a key determinate of funding) and the capacity and experience of schools to deliver teacher training.

Some MPs expressed concerns at the pace at which the shift from university-based ITT provision to largely school-based ITT was taking place, creating uncertainty for HEIs (many of whom are delivering outstanding provision) in terms of their allocations and therefore funding, and putting at risk their ability “to deliver courses of the quality and in numbers they have in the past”. Some also expressed concerns that unfilled School Direct allocations were not being transferred to the HEIs.

Concerns were also raised around the geographical spread of school-based ITT.

The shadow minister for schools, Kevin Brennan MP, made the following points:

–          Labour agrees with diversity of routes into teacher training

–          The opposition also agrees that there should be a greater role for school-led ITT

–          It would not “leave the supply of teachers to the vagueness of an imperfect market, generating greater uncertainty and possibly leading outstanding HEIs to closing down courses”

Brennan asked the Minister for Schools to ensure core allocations to good universities are sufficient and “to give enough certainty around this to enable universities to commit to future investment in teacher training”. He also asked the minister to “make it easier to transfer or vire allocations between different routes so good candidates are not turned away unnecessarily”.

The Minister for Schools responded with some key points, including:

–          HEIs currently deliver 86% of ITT places. In absolute terms HEIs will deliver more places in 2013-14 than in 2012-13.

–          Many School Direct places are delivered in partnership with HEIs – and the programme has encouraged schools to have a more constructive dialogue with HEIs rather than simply being recipients of provision.

–          Government is expected to hit 96% of recruitment targets this year, after a period of recruiting above the target. There is currently no evidence of teacher vacancy rates rising. Targets are however likely to be missed in maths and physics this year.

–          Scholarships and bursaries (see strategic round-up 18th October) are being awarded/provided to help recruit most able graduates, including in subjects facing challenges recruiting.

–          Greater role of schools in selection and training of teachers, through School Direct and as accredited ITT providers, will give schools greater choice and influence over quality of both training and trainees. Schools can be highly discriminating about the applicants who they decided to take on, although that is a challenge to ensure they get allocations right.

–          The number of school that are interested in pursuing Schools Direct shows there is appetite for the initiative.

–          For 2013-14 more than 9,000 School Direct places were requested by 850 schools. By May, 22,500 people had applied for 9,000 places available. Schools Direct has recruited 69% of places it was allocated – the subjects that have struggled to recruit have also struggled to recruit to core places in HEIs.

–          Schools Direct is not about reducing the role of universities in ITT. Many potential teachers will want to go through the traditional route and many schools are developing healthy partnerships with universities.

The minister for schools ended by referring MPs to a motion at the Lib Dem conference back in March that proposed that the party wanted qualified teacher training for all schools. The motion passed with support from the DPM.

The full debate can be read in its entirety here:


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