'Wasteful' training system slammed

19th August 2011 at 01:00
Only 62% of trainees are teaching in state schools the January after their courses end

The teacher training system in England has been condemned as "very wasteful" by an academic who has revealed that only 62 per cent of trainees are teaching in state schools the January after their courses finish.

Professor Alan Smithers blamed a combination of drop-outs who decided against teaching, those who were unsuitable for the job and a mismatch between university recruitment and the needs of schools.

The Buckingham University expert commented: "The training system doesn't mesh with schools in the way it should do."

He believes, like the Westminster Government, that schools should be given more influence over the recruitment and selection of trainees and the content of their training.

The 62 per cent of trainees who started the final year of their courses does not take into account around 10 per cent who got jobs in independent schools or other non-state-school institutions such as FE colleges.

But even when they were included, Professor Smithers said: "We are training 39,000 people a year to provide just 28,000 teachers."

The Department for Education said: "These figures do not show the whole picture - the fact is some trainee teachers do not want to start straight away and others work in supply teaching first, but many of those do end up as full-time teachers. However, we know that we need to improve retention rates."

Professor Smithers backs ministers' plan to shift the balance of training provision away from universities towards school-based courses.

But he also notes that "although school-led schemes grew rapidly in the first part of the century, they have stalled for the past six years." Nearly four-fifths of trainees are still trained in universities and university colleges.

He said teaching had not increased its share of good graduates over the past 14 years. The rise in the proportion of secondary trainees with first-class or 2.1 degrees from 46 to 58 per cent was broadly in line with the number of such good degrees awarded.

Some subjects are still struggling to find trainees with the 2.2 degrees the Government now sees as the minimum for public funding, he said. More than a third of language trainees (37 per cent), a quarter of those in maths and 24 per cent in physics do not possess one.

A spokesman for the Training and Development Agency for Schools said: "The 62 per cent figure cannot be taken in isolation.

"Some 87 per cent of NQTs will successfully complete their NQT year and will therefore have been employed in a teaching role for at least a year."


A scheme run by a consortium of Essex schools has beaten Oxbridge universities to the top of a league of the "best" teacher training providers.

Buckingham University compared providers on their entry qualifications, Ofsted grades and the proportion of trainees that obtained teaching jobs.

Billericay Educational Consortium was first, with Oxford and Cambridge coming second and third respectively. School-led schemes took up six of the top ten places.

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