New teacher training recruitment caps explained

New initial teacher training recruitment caps will be based on three subject categories and providers will get a grace period before being forced to close courses, the government has announced.

Following problems in the past year which saw some university courses in popular subjects such as history and PE close at short-notice, the National College for Teaching and Leadership has introduced three categories upon which it will base its approach to allocations to courses.

As well as PE and history courses, last year, the government was also forced to introduce caps for university providers in primary and English. It meant universities were not allowed to recruit more than 75 per cent of the number of trainees recruited in the previous year.

The caps were introduced to try to prompt growth in the number of trainees going through the less popular School Direct routes, but sparked confusion among applicants and fears that they may result in an overall shortage of teachers in some subjects.

The government is hoping its new system for caps will give providers more freedom and certainty.

For drama, history, PE and primary courses, all in ‘category 1’, places will be allocated at an individual provider level and no providers of any kind will be allowed to recruit above that allocation.

The same rule will apply to universities and school centred initial teacher training (SCITT) for category 2 subjects – art and design, biology, chemistry, English and music – but School Direct routes will be allowed to recruit “as many trainees as they need” in those subjects, based on an overall cap in each subject, not an individual allocation.

The NCTL will also introduce a system whereby it will stop recruitment in category 2 subjects “if and when overall caps are reached in each School Direct route and subject”, but has also said it will give providers notice of five working days from 5pm on the day the stop notice is issued.

It said the notice period had been introduced following feedback from the sector, and that it would allow School Direct lead schools to process all applications received within the five days in the usual way, and said all offers resulting from this would be honoured, “even if interviews and offers are made after closure”.

Remaining subjects, including business studies, computing, design and technology, geography, maths, modern foreign languages and classics, physics and RE, will be in category 3 and uncapped, meaning all providers can recruit up to and beyond their allocation.

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