A shake-up of university training that allows new teachers to swap between higher education and school-based courses would help tackle the looming teacher shortage, universities have said.
The move could see new trainees switching between programmes regardless of which one they applied to in order to increase the chances of filling places, said the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (Ucet).
The call comes as the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) is commissioning new research into why students choose different routes into the profession, in the wake of figures showing a recruitment shortfall in key subjects.
The research will compare student views and experiences of university-led training, the School Direct programme and School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT).
James Noble-Rogers, Ucet executive director, said while the different training schemes offered choice, they could also be confusing. “It is good that there is a choice but it can be misleading when people talk about different routes into teaching, because they all overlap,” he said.
Rather than the existing range of options, there could be a case for grouping training routes into undergraduate, postgraduate and employment-based, allowing greater movement between them, he added.
“It should be possible for providers and schools at a local level to share places, so if one route is full you are not turning people away,” he said. “More flexibility about intake numbers between schools, universities and SCITTs (school-centred initial teacher training) could help maximise recruitment.”
Figures published before Christmas show that only 93 per cent of teacher training places were filled last September, with targets missed in maths, physics, modern languages and design and technology.
It also emerged that School Direct managed to fill just two thirds of its allocated places in 2013/14, while universities filled more than 90 per cent of their allocation.
The NCTL study, due to report its preliminary findings before the end of March, will also look at why only a quarter of those who register on the Get into Teaching website go on to apply for teacher training.