The government is spending at least £312 million a year on training teachers who drop out of the profession within five years, according to an in-depth study looking at the wide variations in the costs and retention rates of different training routes.
The average cost for each trainee who is still teaching in state schools after five years is between £25,000 and £44,000 for most routes, the analysis – the most comprehensive to date – finds.
But the figure is as much as £70,000 for Teach First, which also has the highest dropout rate for trainees – 60 per cent after five years – the study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) says.
The findings led researchers to stress the importance of the government focusing on retention and the cost-benefit ratio of different routes.
"School-led training has been introduced without clear knowledge of the costs and benefits of school-led and higher education-led training," Ellen Greaves, co-author of the IFS report told TES. "If the retention rates improved, the government would have to train fewer new teachers, which would reduce the cost."
Teach First has disputed the figures in the IFS report, arguing that the authors do not make a fair comparison between routes. The charity said that the calculations for Teach First covered three years of costs, compared with one year for all other routes.
"Teach First plays a unique role in recruiting those with leadership potential, who may otherwise not have taught, to work in our most challenging schools," said executive director of programmes Sam Freedman.
A second report by Education Datalab for the charity shows that the Teach First trainees who joined between 2008 and 2012, who stayed in teaching, were seven times more likely than similar PGCE students to be in a leadership post by 2014.
The Department for Education pointed out that the IFS analysis looked at all people who had begun teacher training and included those who had dropped out before qualifying. The figures also did not take into account teachers who had stayed in the profession but were in independent schools, working as supply teachers or on maternity leave, it said.
This is an edited article from the 15 July edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here