Cash-strapped teaching schools asked to give away resources for free
Teaching school alliances already struggling to become financially sustainable could be thrown further off track by plans to give away their teaching resources free.
The white paper states it will examine the feasibility of teaching schools publishing their research and training materials on an “open-source” basis.
But David Weston, chief executive of the Teacher Development Trust, said the proposal could be unwelcome at a time when many alliances are still relying on government cash to keep running.
Teaching schools are expected to become self-sustaining, but the government recently announced it would extend funding to run into a fifth year for the first cohort. Only four years of funding had been guaranteed.
A teaching schools evaluation report by the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), published last month, found financial sustainability was a “persistent challenge faced by almost all teaching school alliances”.
Mr Weston said: “Many teaching schools have struggled trying to get an income stream. They have to employ a lot of people and get experts to get the right resources. It’s an issue when you then can’t charge for those.”
He welcomed the “aspiration” that resources should be free but added: “You have to make sure it’s resourced.”
Financial returns of almost 70 per cent of all teaching schools from last year, obtained by Schools Week under freedom of information laws, show most are still reliant on their grant.
A total of 341 of 479 either overspent or used all their grant. The figures appear to support the NCTL’s findings that teaching schools are struggling to make money.
The Teaching Schools Council did not respond to requests for comment.
The white paper also proposed creating another 300 teaching schools, acknowledging that areas with the weakest performance do not have sufficient access to them. A Schools Week investigation revealed that only two of the 563 existing teaching schools were in areas serving the poorest quarter of the population.
The paper adds: “We will also better target school improvement funding to where it’s most needed, funding system leaders to help build capacity and engage with schools most in need of support.”
Teaching schools will also now provide a “brokerage” role to co-ordinate improvement support. An online development portal will be set up to make it easier to match up schools without relying on local or central government.
The government said it will take a “more sophisticated” approach to appointing teaching schools and leaders of education. It will recognise teachers who have turned around schools, instead of “relying heavily” on Ofsted judgments. The new approach will start in spring.