The government-imposed shift to school-based teacher training “simply does not work”, according to the head of a leading teacher training institution.
Professor Chris Husbands (pictured), director of the University of London's Institute of Education (IoE), has claimed that new government figures on teacher recruitment make for “grim reading”.
The statistics revealed that there has been an overall fall in the number of people starting teacher training courses this September with 93 per cent of places being filled, down from 95 per cent last year.
Less than half (44 per cent) of design and technology places were filled, while targets in maths (88 per cent), languages (79 per cent) and physics (67 per cent) were also missed. The statistics also revealed that just 61 per cent of School Direct places were filled this year, compared to 90 per cent of university places.
In response, the Department for Education pointed out that the statistics also show that record levels of graduates with a first-class degree were training to teach (17 per cent) and that its new teacher recruitment campaign, Your Future Their Future, was attracting different candidates.
But in a blog for the IoE, Professor Husbands accused the Department for Education of putting the “glossiest of positive spins” on the figures.
“It’s true that 93 per cent of targets had been met, but only by counting the over-recruitment in history, art and English against the overall national target for all subjects. There were serious shortfalls in biology, physics, design technology and languages. A surfeit of history graduates is of little use in teaching A-level physics.”
The figures suggest “the lowest level of teacher recruitment since 2008”, he added, and raise “doubts about the ability of School Direct to attract the highest qualified candidates".
"As a whole, School Direct recruited only 61 per cent of its allocation; conventional university-led teacher education met 89 per cent of its targets," wrote Professor Husbands. "No progress has been made in improving the ethnic diversity of the profession.”
The current system of deregulation, Professor Husbands adds, “simply does not work. A state of nature cannot sustain a high quality profession.”
Professor Husbands also says that the changes to training are part of a wider de-regulation of the teaching profession.
"Academy schools are no longer required to appoint individuals who have qualified teacher status (QTS)," he writes. "Schools themselves, singly or in groups, are being encouraged to establish themselves as providers of teacher education.
"There have even been suggestions that responsibility for the award of QTS might be given to schools. A teacher, henceforth, would be anyone whom a head teacher designates as a teacher. It’s worth noting that no other country in the world manages its teaching profession in this way."