The government has this afternoon published three reports analysing recruitment and retention issues.
The National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) released the documents, looking at the “customer experience” of initial teacher training (ITT), returning teachers, and an analysis of ITT routes by teacher retention.
The reports highlight issues within the application process for ITT courses, calling the plethora of routes “confusing” and “overwhelming”. Another also points to huge variation in the retention rates of new teachers depending on what route they took into teaching, and their background.
A final report looked at returner teachers – a key policy in boosting teacher numbers from the government – but found there was little data to see if the policy was effective.
Below are the main points from each of the reports.
1. Drop out rates of new teachers vary by route – Teach First has the highest rate three years after qualification
This report by Education Datalab has linked teachers’ unique reference numbers from when they are trainees through to when they start working in schools, using the workforce census.
The analysis was first revealed by the NCTL in a public accounts committee earlier this year. Sinead O’Sullivan, from the NCTL, said it would give them “better quality data over time” about what was going on in the workforce.
It is the first time such analysis has been carried out.
Datalab has published a brief summary online of its main findings, which are:
– Three regions (north east, north west and south west) appear to have large numbers of new qualified teachers who do not join a state school immediately after achieving QTS
– Those studying on undergraduate with QTS courses have low initial retention rates in the profession. Datalab said it was not known if this was due to choices “made by the individual” or recruitment decisions made by the school. The report suggests some of these undergraduate trainees could be taking gap years.
– Teach First has very high retention rates for the year after QTS (about 80 per cent), but thereafter their retention is poorer than other graduate routes (dropping to about 55 per cent in the second year after QTS and down to 43 per cent in year three). But School Direct is not yet comparable because the programme has not been around long enough
– Ethnic minority teacher trainees have very low retention rates
– Individuals who train part-time or who are older have much poorer retention rates. Datalab said this could “reflect other family commitments that interfere with continuous employment records”.
Schools Week reported last week that one in ten teachers are leaving the profession – the highest rate in a decade.
2. ITT routes are ‘confusing, contradictory and overwhelming’
This research attempted to find out what the experience of would-be teachers in the ITT process, and why some people withdraw from the process, and when.
It analysed the responses of 1,378 people who had either used the Get Into Teaching website, registered with UCAS, or applied for early years ITT.
The authors of the 200-page report found some people were only “vaguely aware that training can take place in schools or in university and are unaware of the differences between the school-led options”, and most people tended to want to stay in their local area for training.
The report found the large number of routes and information about ITT was “confusing, contradictory and overwhelming”. This backs up findings from the National Audit Office earlier this year.
There are “pressure points” as to when people drop out of the process: initial fact-finding and decision-making, gathering experience and evidence; the application process; and securing a place. The report suggested support at each point to aid would-be teachers.
The report said people dropping out was not necessarily negative “nor final” as they could consider ITT in the future.
But, the report said it was “rare” for people to face “no issues” and “the majority… faced a number of difficulties”, which increased the further along in their journey.
School Direct, the government’s preferred training route, was suggested to be more suitable for people who wanted a “hands on” experience in training and was “thus more approporiate for career changers”.
But, it found there was a “considerable” drop off on the salaried route and that only one in five of those considering the route actually went on to apply to the route, and two in five did not apply to any ITT route
To combat problems in the process, the authors suggested:
– Broadening the information to draw in a more diverse pool of candidates (BME, career changers, older people or those with disabilities)
– Use social media to boost ITT support
– Make more School Direct salaried places available
– Reducing the “complexity and rigidity of the application process”, including opening up the application process earlier in the year
– Simplifying the routes available, and explanations of the routes
– Make the Skills Tests easier to book and having more practice papers available
3. The impact of returner teachers is inconclusive
The Department for Education has launched a drive to lure returner teachers back to school. This year, about 17,000 teachers returned to the classroom – although this is slightly fewer than the number in the last two years.
As the survey for this report was only completed by 107 schools, the authors said its findings could not be conclusive or representative of the sector.
But it did make some general points:
– Some of the 107 schools had employed returner teachers – but were not doing so to “solve any workforce issues”
– Returner teachers were perceived to have a “lack of relevant experience, lack of awareness of changing standards and expectations” and raised questions about why they left the profession initially
– Those that did have returner teachers offered them support by allowing them to observe lessons or do “some form of work” in schools
– But, the majority of the respondents did not “actively” market for returners