Too few trainee teachers end up in schools, says report
- 11 August 2011
- From the section Education & Family
The system for training teachers in England is wasteful, a report claims.
A study by Buckingham University found 27,976 (71.5%) of the 39,103 trainees who qualified in the summer of 2010 were in teaching posts in January 2011.
It found that 62% of the trainees were teaching in state schools, while 5% were in independent schools and 4% in "other" education.
The Department for Education said not all trainees started work immediately while others worked as supply teachers.
The report found that teacher trainees who entered the profession via "hands-on" courses were more likely to go into the profession than those trained at universities, even though only a relatively small number of teachers come through this route.
In 2009-10, 78% trained at universities, while 4.5% trained on school-based courses and 17% were in employment-based training.
However, by January 2011, 78% (1,369) of the school-centred trainees and 75% (5,125) of the employment-based trainees were in teaching jobs.
This compared with 70% (21,482) of the university-based trainees.
The study said: "The present process is very wasteful, even with the school-led trainees included, since only about three out of five final-year trainees are to be found teaching in maintained schools in the January after qualifying."
Report co-author Prof Alan Smithers added: "It is no good having excellent entrants and outstanding inspection grades if the trainees do not go into teaching."
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: "These figures do not show the whole picture - the fact is some trainee teachers do not want to start straight away and others work in supply teaching first, but many of those do end up as full-time teachers.
"However, we know that we need to improve retention rates - that's why we are reforming initial teacher training so that more time is spent in the classroom with a focus on the core skills a teacher needs and ensuring there's a better link between training and employment."
The report also noted that some subjects, notably languages, maths and the sciences, were still struggling to find teacher trainees and it said fewer of the trainees in these subjects went on to become teachers.
Even with large bursaries, there was likely to be a shortfall of these teachers and the report suggested the government examine ways of "getting the most able pupils together with the best teachers".
"The satisfactions of teaching interacting with lively and energetic young people all day every day are different from the impersonal abstract patterns that are the stuff of mathematics and the physical sciences," it said.
"The sort of person drawn to one may not be comfortable with the other."
The study said the government was "enthusiastic" about the Teach First programme, where top graduates commit to two years of teaching in challenging schools before heading into business or industry.
But it said the impact was relatively small in terms of teacher recruitment.
"Of the 149 entrants in 2005-06, 63 chose to remain in teaching (which is a plus), but within three years the other 86 (58%) had moved on."
Prof Smithers said: "Teach First may be the icing on the cake, but it is not the solution to the supply and quality of teachers."
Teach First's chief operating officer John Colenutt said: "Teach First does not aim to be an overall solution to any problems with the supply and quality of teachers, but is an independent charity working to break the link between low family income and poor educational attainment which is greater in the UK than in almost any other developed country.
"We recruit and train our top graduates and career-changers, many of whom would not otherwise have considered going into teaching, to be inspirational teachers in the schools that need them the most, those in challenging circumstances."
The analysis of figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) for the academic year 2009/10 was carried out by the University of Buckingham's Centre for Education and Employment Research.
The study - called the Good Teacher Training Guide 2011 - concluded that the Billericay Educational Consortium, one of the two pioneers of school-centred teacher training, was the best for teacher training in England, Oxford University was second and Cambridge University third.