Schools could lose out on high-quality NQTs next year, universities are warning.
They say changes to the teacher training system – which mean a free-for-all among providers until national limits on places are reached – mean they are forced to turn away potential teachers as popular subjects fill up.
Applications for PE on university teacher training courses have already been closed. And today universities were scrambling to sign up history candidates.
There are concerns that the subject – now 90 per cent full – will be closed in the next day or so.
The University of Cambridge has warned that it may not be able to run a PGCE history course next year, because it is not interviewing until Friday. Interviews at the UCL Institute of Education (IoE) in London have been brought forward to this week.
Christine Counsell, a senior lecturer at Cambridge, said the situation was “dire”. “We have no shortage of brilliant applicants for the coming year,” she said. “But we refuse to rush the process. We have selected 21 terrific applicants and the plan is to put them through our usual tough selection process.
“But if the cap on numbers comes down tomorrow that won’t happen and the Cambridge history PGCE will disappear.”
Katharine Vincent, programme leader for secondary PGCE at the IoE, said she had one candidate who, at short notice, had booked a flight from Saudi Arabia for an interview tomorrow.
“People are coming from all over the country who want to come here to do the PGCE,” she said. “But [if recruitment is stopped] we have to say that it doesn’t matter how good you might be as a teacher, it doesn’t matter how far you have travelled, we can’t give you a place.”
She added that in order to ensure as many offers could be made as possible, interviewers were putting them into the Ucas system immediately after the interview. The university has already recruited 13 trainees.
“We have 15 partner schools which have School Direct places for history and [when recruitment closes] we will direct applicants to those schools. But not all of them will want that. The system is not working. No one thinks it is working. It hasn’t been properly thought through,” said Ms Vincent.
A Department for Education spokesman said that there were still places on all subjects on school-led routes.
He added: “Teaching is a hugely popular profession and the level of interest in PE and history demonstrates that this remains the case. Wherever possible we will keep providers up to date with progress on recruitment in particular areas.”