Initial Teacher Training provider numbers in decline
Last year, school leaders called for the government to halt the controversial Initial Teacher Training (ITT) review, warning that ‘it will cause fundamental and irreparable damage to the supply of high-quality teachers to our schools.’ The review puts providers through a rigorous accreditation process in order to ensure that the ITT market is effective and efficient. However, with the second round of reaccreditation currently underway, ministers now fear that there will be a significant drop in the number of providers as a result.
There were 240 providers last year. With just 80 making it through the first round of reaccreditation, the government estimates this figure will drop by a third. Teacher trainers warn this could put up to 10,000 places at risk, at a time when schools face immense pressures in terms of capacity and staffing.
In response, the Department for Education (DfE) has drawn up plans for a new teacher training taskforce to persuade providers to expand and prevent parts of the country becoming ITT “cold spots.” However, James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, explains that existing providers may struggle to expand due to the ‘emphasis on the consistency across partnerships … [and] they might also find it difficult to find suitable partner schools.’ Leaders ask the government to consider these implications before the teacher supply crisis escalates.
The National Tutoring Programme falls under scrutiny
Last March, The National Audit Office (NAO) produced a critical report on the government’s support for education during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, arguing that their response could have been ‘more effective in mitigating the learning pupils lost as a result of the disruption.’
After urging the government to take swift action to ensure that ‘the catch-up learning programme is effective and reaches the children who have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic,’ the NAO will now audit the success of education recovery in schools. In particular, auditors will consider whether the multi-million pound National Tutoring Programme (NTP) is achieving value for money.
Earlier this year, HR firm Randstad’s £32 million contract to run the tutoring scheme was axed after failing to deliver the two million tutoring courses that were originally promised. Following feedback from schools that the programme was bureaucratic, inaccessible and difficult to use, the Department for Education made the decision that catch-up funds will go directly to schools in September, allowing for greater flexibility.
As well as the NTP, auditors will also take into account the universal and targeted financial premiums paid directly to schools, training and continued professional development for teachers, and the summer schools programme.
Findings from the Education Inequalities report
Despite rising education levels, research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) shows that various inequalities persist in education, with ‘virtually no change in the “disadvantage gap” in GCSE attainment over the past twenty years.’
The report shows that sixteen-year-olds eligible for free school meals (FSM) are still twenty-seven percent less likely to achieve good GCSEs than their more privileged peers. Further analysis shows that even within the ‘better-off group, family income is an important predictor of higher levels of attainment.’ Children in the ten percent richest families are more than twice as likely than those in the seventh decile to earn at least one A or A* grade at GCSE.
Researchers also reflect on the gender gap, explaining that girls are around ten percent more likely than boys to reach attainment benchmarks at various stages of the education system. However, ‘women’s outperformance in the education system has not led to outperformance in the labour market – rather, somewhat lower wages early in women’s careers are then held back further relative to men once they have children.’
Educational inequalities by ethnicity are similarly nuanced. Whilst all ethnicity minority groups are more likely than white pupils to have earned A levels or equivalent qualifications by the age of 19, they continue to face disadvantage in apprenticeships and the labour market.
Internationally, England stands out for nearly non-existent improvements in skills when comparing across generations. In almost all OECD countries, literacy and numeracy skills are higher amongst younger people, but England is the exception to the rule. Whilst 55 to 65 year olds perform relatively well, young people have not improved on literacy and numeracy skills at all. England now ranks 25th out of 32 countries in terms of the literacy skills of its young people.
To support a more equal education system, the IFS argues for greater investment, explaining that ‘education spending as a share of national income is no higher than in the early 2000s.’ Authors of the report make several other recommendations to improve education, including an emphasis on soft skills, better vocational options, and the importance of early intervention. Read the full report here.
It is that time of year again as students up and down the country collect their exam results and plan their next steps for the future. Good luck to all our schools and trusts! Although it has been a difficult year, we have seen tremendous amounts of resilience and dedication from the pupils and staff we work with, so we know you can be proud of your achievements.