Comment on Initial Teacher Training

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, comments on the Department for Education’s statistical release on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) for 2017/18:

“Government’s failure to be more joined up in its thinking means that it’s not recruiting the teachers we need. Without changes to education policies, government will fail to meet its own targets of raising education standards, or increasing Britain’s productivity; and pupils’ learning will suffer too.

“Today’s ITT census figures make for sobering reading, with only two out of the 18 postgraduate secondary routes reaching their targets, in PE and History.  With the increase of pupil numbers at secondary level, and the resulting need for more teachers there, this is an incredibly worrying, if not surprising, outcome for those in secondary schools. 

“We hope that these figures will make government take a hard look at their policy around the EBacc; the enforced split between EBacc and non-EBacc has made a big mess of teacher supply.  Recruitment for secondary EBacc subjects is only 84% of the government’s target, while non-EBacc subjects are an even more alarming 69%. 

“EBacc dogma and rising pupil numbers mean that far more teachers are needed for EBacc subjects, yet the government have still failed to make the profession more attractive by achieving significant reductions in teachers’ workload or reversing real-term pay cuts.  Meanwhile, policy is marginalising non-EBacc subjects, including some that would underpin its push towards new vocational qualifications, like Design and Technology, and this has led to fewer prospective teachers applying.

“With Brexit looming ever nearer and a growing skills crisis, the continued failure to recruit the required number of teachers to science subjects like Physics and Biology grows ever more glaring.

“The key challenge for the Government has to be making teaching more attractive. This requires a far more serious and joined up approach to tackling workload. It also means addressing the issue of teachers’ pay which has fallen steadily behind other graduate professions. Government needs a serious and coherent plan for teacher recruitment, and it must also review the impact of policies like EBacc, on recruitment and retention.”



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Press release
30 November 2017