by Tim Lezard Moving teacher training away from universities and into schools, is leading to a shortage of teachers for key science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, says a report released today. The UCU said the report’s findings demonstrat …

teachers classroomby Tim Lezard

Moving teacher training away from universities and into schools, is leading to a shortage of teachers for key science, technology, engineering and maths subjects, says a report released today.

The UCU said the report’s findings demonstrate how dangerous the government’s policy of sidelining university training courses has been.

The report, from Universities UK finds the School Direct programme has been more successful in recruiting trainees into subjects such as English and history but less so in STEM subjects, contributing to a shortfall in teachers in areas such as maths and physics.

UCU general secretary Sally Hunt said: ‘This report’s findings prove how dangerous a path the government is taking as it sidelines university teacher training courses. For the first time next year, School Direct trainees will outnumber university teacher training students yet it isn’t even filling all its places.

‘If politicians persist with this policy, university teacher training departments will be in grave danger, despite being the engine houses for the next generation of maths and physics teachers that our schools and economy so desperately need.’

The School Direct programme, which trains teachers in schools, was set up in 2012 with just 900 places but has been expanded so rapidly that by 2015/16 it will have 17,609 places, meaning for the first time School Direct trainees will outnumber university PGCE students. School Direct failed to recruit its full allocation last year.

ATL senior policy adviser Simon Stokes said: “The government is jeopardising children’s education through its poorly thought-through changes to teacher training.

“By making School Direct the main provider of teacher training the government has exacerbated the shortfall in trainee teachers in maths and physics, subjects in which there are already a shortage of teachers.

“We are keen to hear how the government thinks this is going to improve children’s education or provide the scientists and engineers the UK needs.

“We also have major concerns about how far schools alone can provide trainee teachers with grounding in child development and learning, understanding of pupil behaviour and SEN, and how to use assessment to support learning. These are all things that higher education institutions (HEI) were providing successfully.

“However, we fear that expertise in training teachers will be lost if the government continues pushing School Direct at the expense of teacher training in HEIs. Because of the uncertainty about the number of students who will do any training in a HEI, and thus the amount of funding for courses, many more HEI teacher training courses could become unviable and fold.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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