'Flood' of new teachers 'a risk', warns DfE adviser

But recruiting surplus teachers could pay off if aligned with Covid catch-up plans, says member of ITT review group

Amy Gibbons

Teacher training

There is a "risk" of teachers "flooding the market" in the wake of a recruitment boost sparked by the pandemic, a government adviser has warned.

But an influx of extra teachers could turn out to be a "good thing" if the new recruits are deployed to help with the government's Covid catch-up efforts, according to Sam Twiselton, a member of the expert group advising the Department for Education (DfE) on its initial teacher training (ITT) review.

In December, it emerged that the DfE had far exceeded its overall goal for postgraduate teacher recruitment at  primary and secondary level for 2020-21, with the number of new entrants amounting to 115 per cent of the target set by the Teacher Supply Model (TSM)  up from 87 per cent in 2019-20.

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Now, with providers still able to recruit an unlimited number of postgraduate trainees in most subjects, Professor Twiselton has warned that "flooding the market" with new teachers would be a "risk".

However this could pay off if coordinated with the Covid catch-up plans, she said.

Asked if the recent boom in new entrants, coupled with a rise in the teacher trainee acceptance rate, could end in a surplus of teachers, Professor Twiselton, who is director of the Sheffield Institute of Education at Sheffield Hallam University, told Tes that "flooding the market" could be a "good thing" if aligned with the post-pandemic recovery effort.

"From my perspective, if done in a managed way, flooding the market – which I think is a risk – could be a good thing if they were embedded into the Covid recovery plans," she said.

"But I guess that's a big resource question as school budgets won't be able to pick up the additional salaries this implies."

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), told Tes that "additional" teachers will likely be required to facilitate an "effective" recovery plan.

"The demand for teachers moving forward is likely to be dependent on any Covid recovery plans announced by government," she said.

"We don't yet know what the final recommendations will be, but my instinct is that an effective recovery plan is likely to be reliant on suitable numbers of additional teachers to make it work."

She added: "We also don't yet know what the future holds in terms of the turnover of staff. We have seen less 'churn' of staff in this uncertain year but it could be that teachers that might otherwise have left in the past year do so over the next year or so instead.

"Similarly, we have heard anecdotally that many school leaders are considering early retirement after taking their schools through the crisis period. This may not come to fruition but, if it does, it could leave vacancies to be back-filled."

Mark Heaton, recruitment lead at the Sheffield Institute of Education, agreed with Professor Twiselton that "additional numbers, if funded, could play a key role in the Covid recovery plans".

"But that's something Sir Kevan Collins [the government's education recovery commissioner] might want to consider, if he is aware of this potential seam of talent," he added.

The DfE said that it was pleased to see that more people who apply to teacher training courses are being accepted.

It added that the surge in the number of new trainee teachers in 2020 – over 7,000 more than in 2019 – indicates that teaching continues to be an attractive career option.

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Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons

Amy Gibbons is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @tweetsbyames

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