Universities UK and Guild HE are concerned that the changes announced today may be detrimental to overall recruitment in initial teacher training (ITT).
While we understand the decision to remove the recruitment cap as signalling liberalisation, we suggest that the changes as proposed may have a damaging impact on prospective applicants, on higher education institutions and on the supply and quality of teachers.
The biggest risk to prospective applicants is that they fail to realise the implications of the changes and miss the opportunity to apply for programmes. It is also likely that individuals will see their applications rejected part-way through the decision-making process. This is because the application of number controls within the recruitment cycle is likely to result in the early closure of popular programmes. In certain instances this may result in a very short recruitment window.
The application of number controls within the recruitment cycle will encourage some training providers to accept applications quickly, before controls are applied and recruitment is stopped. This will discriminate against later applicants and may lead to high quality candidates being excluded. This is a particular risk with popular programmes.
Within the fixed market that these changes introduce, there will be no guaranteed minimum intake level for university provider-led courses. This instability affects the viability of course delivery, reduces the capacity of universities to plan over the long-term and may impact on the ability of universities to support their partnership schools. The changes could, in certain instances, lead to universities withdrawing from specific subjects or from the ITT market altogether.
The system instability these changes introduce may have wider impact beyond ITT. This is because universities, in addition to the direct training of new teachers, play a key role in supporting the system, both through successful partnerships with Teach First and Schools Direct providers and through the provision of professional education courses and continued professional development. Further, the research undertaken in universities provides evidence of what works and underpins best practice within the classroom.
Universities have been working constructively with government departments and bodies to support a partnership-led system, a system that must meet the challenge, common to any education system, to ensure that its teachers are of sufficient quality and of sufficient number across all required disciplines. Already, this challenge is not being fully met. It is unlikely that the allocation system announced today will remedy this.
For more information on the NCTL announcement today, please visit: https://www.gov.uk/registering-initial-teacher-training-places-2016-to-2017