Teacher training

3,000 don’t complete courses as Covid disrupts teacher training

Impact of decision to allow trainees affected by Covid to extend their courses begins to show

Impact of decision to allow trainees affected by Covid to extend their courses begins to show

The number of final-year trainees not completing their courses soared in 2020-21, as Covid disruption forced the government to allow extensions to teacher training.

The Department for Education has published new data on initial teacher training performance, which show the proportion of final year trainees that completed their courses, gained qualified teacher status and found jobs.

Here’s what we learned.

1. Almost 3,000 trainees didn’t finish courses…

Every year, a proportion of final-year trainees do not complete their training, meaning they either go on to get qualified teacher status in a future year, leave the course before it’s complete or finish training without being awarded QTS.

At the end of the 2020-21 academic year, 2,909 final year postgraduate trainees, or 8 per cent of the cohort, were yet to complete their training, and 1,597, or 5 per cent were not awarded QTS.

This is up from 1,391, or 5 per cent who did not complete and 1,172, or 4 per cent who did not receive QTS in 2019-20.

The proportion of trainees not completing their course was almost double in primary (11 per cent) than the rate in secondary (6 per cent).

2. …but numbers likely affected by Covid disruption

During the pandemic, the DfE allowed providers to offer course extensions into future years for trainees whose courses were disrupted.

These extensions are “likely to have contributed to the increase in the proportion of trainees yet to complete their course”.

The final outcomes of trainees whose courses were extended will be included in a future year’s dataset.

3. Covid prompts big spike in trainee numbers…

As indicated in previous datasets, Covid and the ensuing financial crisis prompted a large, if temporary hike in the number of people training to become teachers.

Today’s data shows there were 35,371 final year postgraduate trainee teachers in the 2020-21 academic year, up 21 per cent compared to 29,314 in 2019-20.

This “unprecedented increase was likely to be a direct result of the impact of Covid-19”, the DfE said.

There were also 4,737 final year undergraduate trainee teachers in the 2020-21 academic year, an increase of 4 per cent from 4,550 trainees in 2019-20. 

4. …but lower proportion awarded QTS

The proportion of trainees awarded qualified teacher status decreased last year.

Of the 35,371 trainees, 30,865, or 87 per cent, were awarded QTS, down from 91 per cent the year before.

Among primary trainees, 85 per cent were awarded QTS, while 89 per cent of secondary trainees reached the milestone.

QTS award rates also varied by secondary subject, ranging from 82 per cent for computing to 95 per cent for physical education.

The DfE said the drop in the proportion of trainees awarded QTS was “largely due to an increase in the proportion of final year postgraduate trainees ‘yet to complete’”.

5. DfE estimates 73% will work in state schools

The DfE said it estimated that within 16 months of qualification, 22,380 postgraduate trainees awarded QTS, or 73 per cent of the cohort, will be employed as a teacher on a state school in England.

Because of the increase in trainees overall last year, this would be a 14 per cent increase in the number of trainees teaching in state schools, but only around a 1 per cent rise in the proportion of those with QTS teaching in state schools.

In 2019-20, the estimate was 73 per cent and in 2018-19 it was 78 per cent.

6. School-led teacher training more likely to lead to employment

The dataset also includes provisional employment rates for trainees on different routes into the profession.

Employment rates were 79 per cent for those on school-led routes, compared to 65 per cent for those coming through higher education.

The highest rates of employment were for high-potential ITT, provided by Teach First (91 per cent), school direct salaried (87 per cent) and postgraduate teaching apprenticeship (85 per cent) routes.

7. Black and disabled trainees less likely to get QTS

The DfE also publishes data broken down by the characteristics of trainees.

Black trainees were less likely to be awarded QTS (78 per cent) than their Asian (81 per cent), mixed (86 per cent) and white (89 per cent) counterparts.

Women were more likely to get QTS than men, at 89 per cent to 84 per cent, and those with a declared disability were more likely to reach the milestone than those without (81 per cent vs 88 per cent).

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