The government has launched a teacher training “sufficiency steering group” amid fears its ITT market review will slash provider numbers by a third and leave England with a shortage of places.
Schools Week understands the Department for Education is anticipating that only around 80 more providers will make it through in the second round of re-accreditation, which teacher trainers have warned could put up to 10,000 places at risk.
Taken on top of the 80 approved in round one, this would mean a reduction in the number of accredited providers operating in England of about a third. As of last year, there were around 240.
The government hinted earlier this year that there may be future accreditation rounds “if required”, but has so far announced no firm plans to hold one.
James Noble-Rogers, from the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said “if these figures are even close to correct, there will be disastrous implications for teacher supply”.
“[The] DfE appears to have ignored the warnings they received from a wide range of professional organisations and well-informed individuals.”
Emma Hollis, from the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers, warned last year that the ITT review posed a “catastrophic risk” to teacher supply.
“If the figure being quoted today is, in fact, accurate, then I fear that this risk has become a dreadful reality.”
The new sufficiency steering group will reportedly advise on communications and how to encourage expansion and new partnerships between providers, amid fears the review could leave “cold spots” in some parts of the country.
Up to 10,000 teacher training places ‘at risk’
The fear over sufficiency of teacher training follows warnings about falling recruitment.
Despite a shortlived Covid-related boost in numbers signing up in 2020, the government once again missed its secondary recruitment target in 2021, with less than a quarter of the number of physics teachers needed taken on.
The National Foundation for Educational Research also warned earlier this year that there was a “substantial” risk of targets being missed again in 2022.
Hollis warned that with recruitment at an “alarmingly low level” and schools facing “immense pressure” on capacity and staffing, it “seems beyond belief that the government would wilfully and knowingly putting as many as 10,000 trainee places at deliberate risk”.
“We call on the government to think very carefully before proceeding further – or they could very well create a teacher supply crisis of truly epic proportions.”
Noble-Rogers added that the DfE “appears to complacently assume that any gaps in supply will be met through the accreditation of new providers and the expansion of existing suppliers”.
But this ignores “the fact that new providers are untested and that significant barriers will prevent others from growing their provision to any meaningful extent’’.
The DfE was approached for comment.
Ministers want to ‘slim down’ sector
Ministers have made no secret of their desire to slim down the ITT sector. Last year, the DfE said it was “likely that many providers” would “wish or need to create formal partnerships” as a result of the re-accreditation process.
The review predicted “significant market reconfiguration and the development of new capacity will be necessary”.
The DfE announced in May that only 80 of the 216 providers that applied made it through in the first round.
It is not known how many applied in round two, but Schools Week understands most that were unsuccessful in round one applied, along with some that did not apply in the first round.
The re-accreditation process has been bruising for providers.
Schools Week revealed that the first university rated ‘outstanding’ under Ofsted’s new teacher training inspection framework was among those snubbed in the first round.
Other rejected organisations spoke of being treated “disgracefully”, while even successful providers described a “challenging” and “stressful” process.
Several organisations including Teach First were recently handed £75,000 contracts to act as ITT market quality associates.
Part of their role, the DfE said, would be to “support the anticipated closure of a number of providers, ensuring smooth market exit and transfer of trainees to other providers.”