Plans for 1,000 teacher apprentices to start working in classrooms this September are being disrupted by “frustrating” bureaucratic hurdles that have blocked accredited teacher trainers from offering the course.
The government has said that the teacher apprenticeship, which launches in September 2018, will “provide another pathway for talented graduates” into teaching.
In order to train apprentices, providers must be listed on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers – a process that school-based teacher trainers say is complicated, bureaucratic and unclear and has led to rejections they do not understand. Many are not even attempting to apply.
The National Association of School-based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) has revealed that 60 per cent of the 107 Scitts (school-based initial teacher training providers) it surveyed had not tried to register. Of those that did apply, only four were expecting to attract more than 10 teacher apprentices, 23 were expecting less than 10 and 15 were not expecting any in September 2018.
NASBTT chief executive Emma Hollis, said: “Many of our members felt that the postgraduate teaching apprenticeship is unlikely to be financially attractive for their partner schools and therefore chose not to apply in this round.
"Those providers that did apply and were rejected are, naturally, very frustrated and NASBTT is working closely with the DfE to find ways forward for those that are keen to offer this route."
The director of one school-based initial teacher training (Scitt) provider in the south east had little feedback on why their application had been rejected – pointing out they had been offering government-approved teacher training and Ofsted-inspected training for many years.
“Filling in the application was a rigmarole,” said the director, who wished to remain anonymous. “I tried for five hours to talk to someone but I couldn’t. We were told we didn’t pass on quality because we didn’t give sufficient detail. I was bewildered. We have been offering training all this time to teachers and now we were being turned down?
“It feels like all you’re doing is jumping through hoops, when all you want to do is train good teachers.”
Jane Adamson, programme director for North Essex Teacher Training Scitt in Clacton-on-Sea, had a similar experience. “We spent a long time working on our bid, having been led to believe that if we delivered school-based teacher training there was no difference between that and an apprenticeship, apart from an extra term for apprentices. We were told two answers on the form didn’t pass and we don’t know the rationale for that. We were told we can’t appeal. It is very frustrating.”
She said that while there was little demand from schools at the moment for apprentices, the Scitt wanted to be able to offer them. Offering an apprenticeship will allow schools which pay the apprenticeship levy to access some of that money towards the training costs of their apprentice.
The apprenticeship is similar to the current postgraduate school-based route in teaching School Direct Salaried. Trainees on both routes work in schools and are paid as an unqualified teacher while training. They both gain QTS at the end of the year. But apprentices must also complete a fourth term and then be assessed against apprenticeship standards.
The latest UCAS figures revealed that applications to start teacher training in 2018 have fallen by 29 per cent since the same time last year.
Ms Hollis said: “What the latest figures on teacher recruitment are telling us is that providers need as much support as possible, not unnecessary blockages which could reduce the uptake of the apprenticeship route.
“We can see no reason why an accredited ITE provider should not be entered into the Register of Apprenticeship Providers. Where there have perhaps been technical issues with an application, we would urge the Institute for Apprenticeships to work with us, the DfE and affected organisations to find ways solve these issues quickly and simply so that providers can get on with the business of training great teachers.”
The DfE has been contacted for comment.