There has been some very worrying news recently about the number of applications for Secondary training places. On the back of a reduction of around 20% for this year’s training cohort, we receive news that applications for 2018-19 are around 45% down year-on-year. To put that in context, our local SCITT provider received 249 applications in 2010; last year that was down to 69 and we await what the final figure will be this time around. There has been one application for Maths training whilst one of our fellow providers tells a similar story.
The Government’s Industrial Strategy published last month dedicated four of its pages to the study of Maths. It is welcome news that Maths is high on the agenda with Sir Adrian Smith’s recommendations being listened to and acted upon. However, if we cannot attract the brightest and the best into our classrooms what chance have we got of delivering this ambitious agenda?
The question is: what is deterring our graduates from entering our profession? Whilst we are all still feeling the pinch in terms of austerity, unemployment is at historically low levels and we know this has an impact on the number of high-calibre entrants to the profession. Other factors to consider are negative press and social media coverage denigrating the profession, lower levels of pay (UPS has all but been eradicated since 2010), workload and accountability issues. As graduates are leaving university now with several tens of thousand of pounds of debt, is it any wonder that our brightest and best are turning their back on the profession?
There is some good news: the recognition that marking has in many schools spiralled out of control and that there needs to be strategies put in place to ensure that whilst feedback supports each student to make progress, that is does not over-burden already busy teachers. I’m sure there needs to be a sensible shift in policy which will hopefully be supported by both the DfE and Ofsted.
Here in Poole we are excited about launching our new SKE course for pre-ITT trainees. Everything is now in place to deliver high quality training – we just need the trainees! Additionally, we are very interested in getting involved in the Internship programme for undergraduates. We will update on the progress of these programmes in due course.
On the topic of training for new teachers, the idea of strengthening QTS from the Secretary of State is a good one in principle. However, this needs to be thought through very carefully as it will take time to implement properly and will need appropriate levels of funding. There’s not much of that around at present so let’s see how the consultation pans out. It shouldn’t really be a quality versus quantity debate but in the short term we simply need more teachers above anything else.