Government sets out plans to attract the best graduates into teaching

Published on Monday, 27 June 2011 15:01
Posted by Scott Buckler

Top graduates will be attracted into the teaching profession to help drive up standards in schools, under new plans published today (June 27th)

Despite having many excellent teachers, trained in some of the best institutions in the world, other nations are racing ahead in school improvement.

The Government is committed to raising the status of the profession, in the bid to make it a highly attractive career for top graduates.

There has also been a longstanding problem recruiting the high quality maths and science teachers we need.

We know that:

  • South Korea recruits teachers from the top five per cent of graduates and Finland from the top 10 per cent.
  • Only two per cent of the highest achieving graduates from our top universities train to become teachers on graduating.
  • Independent research shows the difference high quality teachers make. An eight year old taught by a top performing teacher can make as much as two year’s additional progress by the time they reach 11, compared to a pupil with a low performing teacher.
  • Last year we recruited around 260 fewer trainees to physics initial teacher training courses and 80 fewer chemistry trainees than we needed.
  • The Institute of Physics have also said we need to recruit around 1,000 new specialist physics teachers each year for 15 years to plug the gap.

The Initial Teacher Training Strategy sets out plans to build on the strengths of the existing system, as well as addressing some important weaknesses.

The proposals cover:

  • Offering high quality graduates including science and maths specialists significantly better financial incentives to train as teachers – up to £20,000 for graduates with first class honours degree. Trainees will receive the bursary in monthly instalments in their training year, as currently happens. They currently only receive bursaries of up to £9,000.
  • Offering financial incentives to all trainees with at least a 2.2 so that teacher training continues to be attractive, whilst having graduates with excellent subject knowledge. Graduates with a third class degree will not be barred from teaching but will not receive government funding for their training.
  • Requiring all trainees to have high standards of mathematics and English by requiring trainees to pass a tougher literacy and numeracy tests before they start training. Candidates who fail one or both of the skills tests at the first attempt will be limited to two re-sits for each test. Currently they only take the tests after starting their training course and they are allowed unlimited re-sits. New figures show that one in five trainees fail either of the basic tests first time round.
  • Allowing and encouraging schools, often working as groups or chains, to lead their own high quality initial teacher training in partnership with a university. Around 100 outstanding schools are expected to become ‘Teaching Schools’ this September. They, together with their partners will lead the training and professional development of teachers and headteachers.
  • Giving schools, as prospective employers, a stronger influence over the content of ITT training as well as the recruitment and selection of trainees. Teachers consistently identify two specific weaknesses in the initial training they have received: being able to confidently teach reading effectively, including using systematic synthetic phonics, and how to manage pupil behaviour.
  • Continuing to subject ITT provision to quality controls that focus on the quality of placements and selection.

Michael Gove, Secretary of State, said:

If we want to have an education system that ranks with the best in the world, then we need to attract the best people to train to teach, and we need to give them outstanding training.

We have some excellent teachers in this country, but many who could make a huge difference in the lives of children choose other professions. Our teachers are trained in some of the best institutions in the world, but the schools which employ these teachers do not get enough of a say in how they are trained. Nor does the training focus sharply on the techniques teachers most need, such as behaviour management and the effective teaching of reading.

We value our teachers highly, but the current system of funding does not incentivise the best. The system needs to change.

Stephen Hillier, Chief Executive of the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) said:

The TDA welcomes the Government’s ambitious plans for improving teacher recruitment and training.

The proposals will greatly enhance our ability to recruit the very best graduates into teaching, especially in subjects where demand is high. They will create a significant shift towards schools taking more responsibility for recruiting and training the next generation of teachers, within strong university/school partnerships, ensuring that the quality of training offered by universities and schools is as high as possible.

Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, said:

The quality of teacher education is one of the major determinants of the effectiveness of an education system. Across the world, high performing education systems have paid attention to their teacher education systems.  We know a great deal about how to design and deliver outstanding teacher education: it involves schools and universities working as co-equal partners, defining together the way they will shape the teaching profession.

We look forward to further developing our work with our partners in schools to ensure the children get the best prepared teachers.

The strategy is now for public discussion and the final strategy being published later this summer. The new system is planned to come into effect from September 2011, with most changes affecting new trainee teachers starting in September 2012.


Source: DFE

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