Labour has reaffirmed its commitment to reviewing initial teacher training – with an eye towards introducing a more regional model based on medical deaneries.
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has previously raised “reservations” about the School Direct programme in the House of Commons.
However, when pushed on the issue further this week, he outlined plans to review the system’s “current limitations in relation to recruitment and shortages” should Labour get in power.
A spokesperson for Mr Hunt said: “There are problems with the recruitment which are the result of the way School Direct has been handled.
“It needs to be looked at to ensure recruitment is more responsive to local need.”
Mr Hunt has said the programme needs more order and should have a regional model similar to medical deaneries, which include regional training boards responsible for training health workers.
A spokesperson would not go further into any more details, but Mr Hunt hinted that higher education institutions could lead regional teaching programmes.
Speaking in the House of Commons in January, he said: “We fear that the important partnership that excellent higher education institutions can play in training teachers is being undermined and nothing I have seen from the international evidence says that that is the route to raising standards.”
However the Conservatives have dismissed the reform. A party spokesperson said: “Tristram Hunt has no plan for raising teaching standards – his only idea was to make teachers pledge a patronising oath.
“School Direct is hugely popular with schools – with a record number of applications from schools for places this year.
“It means teachers are trained in the classroom from day one – so that rather than learning out of date theories in lecture halls, they learn the vital skills of great teaching in a hands on way – from other experienced professionals.”
School Direct is the main school-led training route since its launch in 2012, with 9,232 people starting the route in September last year.
It is delivered by a partnership of a school or schools, and an accredited teacher training provider – a university or a school approved to carry out SCITT.
School Direct exists in two variants – a salaried route, and a route in which tuition fees are payable. While its introduction has been the biggest change to teacher training options in recent years, across the salaried and fee-paying streams almost two in five (39 per cent) of placed allocated to School Direct have went unfilled last year. For the fee-paying stream, this was 43 per cent.