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Whither Teacher Education and Training?: new HEPI report calls for fresh thinking and practical action now to avoid a crisis in teacher recruitment and training

  • 27 April 2017

A new HEPI paper on the past, present and future of teacher training written by Dr John Cater, the Vice Chancellor of Edge Hill University, will be launched at a HEPI conference at King’s College London on Thursday, 27 April 2017. Among the various recommendations is a call to consider replacing bursaries for trainee teachers with a new system of forgivable fees.

John Cater, the author of HEPI Report (95) Whither Teacher Education and Training?, said:

There are worrying signs that the profession is failing to attract enough entrants and failing to retain existing teachers in sufficient numbers and with appropriate specialisms to deliver the revised curriculum to a rapidly increasing school-age population.

This is no longer the time for hackneyed debates about the merits of different types of provision of Initial Teacher Training, which should be judged solely on the quality of provision and the success in recruiting and retaining future teachers.

But it is the time for all stakeholders to work together to ensure that an emerging issue does not manifest itself into a crisis which affects the life chances of a generation.’

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said:

Policymakers love to meddle in teacher training. In recent times, they have tried to shift the training out of universities and into schools. But the numbers speak for themselves: in every year between 2013 and 2016, teacher recruitment missed its targets. Large sums have been splurged on bursaries for trainee teachers to stem the flow, but without much effect.

We need to stop ignoring the facts. Trainee teachers typically do not want to be at the same chalkface all of the time. Learning how to teach in a university environment – and not just at a single school – allows the teachers of tomorrow to gain experience in different settings. It also helps them learn from one another as part of a bigger group covering the various stages of education and lots of different disciplines.

After the election, the new Government will need to consider this issue afresh. Otherwise, children being born today will not be guaranteed the schooling they deserve.

Notes for Editors

  • The paper makes ten recommendations aimed at making teaching a more secure, reliable and attractive profession:
  1. Considering the replacement of the current bursary system with new ‘forgivable fees’ for those who remain in teaching for a number of years and perform highly.
  2. Improving links to the teacher supply chain, with an outreach team building relationships with universities, their careers services, academic staff and students.
  3. Treating all routes to qualified or accredited teacher status on an equal and fair basis, with potential trainees choosing the most appropriate route for them.
  4. Granting all teaching trainer providers three to five-year allocations, within a range limited to +/-10 per cent each year, to encourage investment in facilities.
  5. Placing an expectation on all schools that they will play a role in the renewal of the profession by, as a minimum, providing placement opportunities for trainees.
  6. Investing in better physical working conditions in schools, which no longer come close to matching those in other professions.
  7. Refining, clarifying and simplifying a career-progression ladder to recognise outstanding teachers and support retention.
  8. Providing ready access, with funding, to a greater range of personal development opportunities for teachers – possibly as part of a university’s Access and Participation Plan and as an alternative to sponsoring a school.
  9. Agreeing and implementing a school curriculum and assessment structure designed to remain in place for at least a decade to ensure stability.
  10. 10.Launching a new media campaign, including better use of social media, focusing on the way in which teachers change life chances.
  • Dr John Cater is Vice-Chancellor of Edge Hill University and, having led the institution since 1993, he is the longest-serving head of any UK higher education institution. He was a Director of the Teacher Training Agency and its successor body, the Training and Development Agency for Schools, from 1999 to 2006 and he is the Chair of Universities UK’s Teacher Education Advisory Group.
  • HEPI’s mission is to ensure policy-making is informed by evidence and research. We are UK-wide, independent and non-partisan.

1 comment

  1. I Phillips says:

    Interesting that current and past policy at Dr Cater’s institution appears almost as muddled as government policy.
    There was a tendency to jump upon any bandwagon undermining the key strength of the Faculty of Education’s secondary ITE – its PGCE programme.
    More recently there appears to be a lack of conviction about the future of secondary ITE at Edge Hill with a number of PGCE courses closed or significantly reduced in size, leaving staff there uncertain as to what their future is and a noticeable lack of direction at the top of the Faculty of Education.
    This contrasts markedly with a number of other HEIs who are currently expanding their secondary provision.

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