DfE urged to set-up teacher training advisory committee


Calls have been made for a group to be set-up to monitor and oversee the supply and training of teachers, amid claims that changes introduced by the government could lead to a staff shortage.

Teacher recruitment experts are calling for the creation of an advisory committee to work with the Department for Education (DfE) and to introduce coherence to the “recruitment, training and retention of a world-class teaching force”.

The call has been made in a paper written by Professor John Howson, a leading expert in teacher recruitment, and education policy analyst Chris Waterman.

The pair have previously been critical of the direction in which ministers have taken teacher training, which has shifted substantially away from universities and higher education institutions and been placed into the hands of schools through the School Direct programme.

In their report – entitled The Future of Teacher Education in England: Developing a strategy –  Prof Howson and Mr Waterman, write: “What is currently lacking, presumably by the design of the secretary of state, is anything that looks like an overall strategy for the recruitment and retention of the top-quality teaching force that all agree is needed.

“Significantly more teachers will be needed as the baby boom of recent years works its way through the school system. This will place particular pressure on all subjects but especially those that are already struggling to recruit sufficient trainee numbers.

“There is now an increasingly diverse range of routes into teaching and a multiplicity of providers of initial teacher training: this pattern in unlikely to change.

“There is no independent oversight of the supply and training of teachers, other than the very valuable, but necessarily ad-hoc and post-hoc role exercised by the Education Select Committee.”

The report said that an advisory committee would support the DfE in the planning and management of the supply and training of teachers in England, to ensure there was an adequate workforce to meet the needs of maintained schools. 

It would also provide a “wider perspective and feedback on issues of teacher supply and training, including the need for continuing professional development”.

Mr Waterman said: “The teacher training market has been blown wide open. What we are suggesting is that an advisory committee be set-up to help the DfE get it right in the future. Currently, higher education institutions are being expected to keep open teacher training courses on the off-chance that some School Direct schools will buy into their PGCE courses. This is not a sustainable situation.

“I suspect what the government is aiming for is the collapse of education departments in universities and for academy chains to start training their own teachers. It is effectively deprofessionalising teaching.”

Prof Howson added: “No other world-class education system is playing fast and loose with its teacher preparation programmes the way this government is with teacher training in England.”


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