Think Tank Says UK’s Teacher Training is in Trouble

Million+, a think tank that also represents newer universities, said that England’s system of planning teacher training has broken down and the country risks a future shortage of teachers, according to Hannah Richardson of BBC News.

Million+ has criticized the Department for Education’s School Direct program under which it has moved about 9,000 teacher training places from universities to schools.  Million+ predicts that “with only 45% of places on it filled, there will be 3,000 fewer teachers trained by 2014.”

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education said that the program was becoming very popular and, by May some 22,500 people had applied for half as many places.

The Commons Education Select Committee is conducting an inquiry into teacher training amid questions from several sectors over the long-term future of the profession.

Million+ Chief Executive Pam Tatlow, in her evidence to the committee, said that the School Direct program focused around on-the-job, school-based training had been 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. Universities that have run very successful programmes to enhance the expertise of prospective teachers in key specialist shortage subjects are not being allocated numbers.”

She added: “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.”

Kevin Brennan, Labour’s shadow school’s minister, said the government’s “failure and incompetence means there is now a crisis in teacher recruitment”.

“We have already seen 6,000 teachers quit the profession on [Prime Minister David Cameron's] watch, now it looks like there will be a shortfall of 3,000 teacher trainees on top of that. This is a real risk to standards, and parents will be worried. David Cameron is damaging standards by allowing unqualified teachers into our classrooms.

To protest pay, pension and working conditions, the NUT and NASUWT unions have planned a one-day walkout this fall. The strikes are scheduled to take place in the first and third weeks of October and will affect schools in all districts in England and Wales.

Union officials announced this summer that the rolling strikes would be scheduled for the week of September 30th and October 14th.