A study led by the Institute for Fiscal Studies has analysed the costs and benefits of different ITT routes and found that the cost to the government of each trainee teacher can vary by more than £30,000.
The main routes into teaching are the government-run School Direct (salaried and unsalaried), school-centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), Teach First, the higher education institution-led PGCE and the Bachelor of Education (BEd), all of which lead to qualified teacher status (QTS).
But while trainees on some undergraduate ITT courses cost the government as little as £10,000, those who take the new School Direct (unsalaried) route and train in high priority subjects like maths and physics can cost around £42,000 each. This is because these trainees are eligible for a bursary award or scholarship funding in addition to student finance.
The study, produced in collaboration with the Institute of Education and the National Foundation for Educational Research, with funding from the Nuffield Foundation, pointed out that teacher training also imposes costs on the schools where teachers are trained.
But after canvassing the views of nearly 500 secondary and primary school staff, researchers concluded that schools believe they benefit more from school-based teacher training than university-based teacher training.
They added that schools expect to hire trainees enrolled on school-based training after they have qualified, thereby lowering the future cost of recruitment.
Schools also reported little difference in the quality of trainees taking different routes and said that the presence of trainee teachers in schools had no significant impact on pupil attainment.
The study found that the most popular route into teaching is still through higher education. Around 30,000 new teachers are trained every year, with 60 per cent of trainees at secondary level and 50 per cent of primary trainees choosing the PGCE route.
The new school-based routes trained around 20 per cent of trainee teachers in 2013/14, although this percentage looks set to expand.
Commenting on the research, Ellen Greaves, senior research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the report’s lead author, said: “There is now a broad range of initial teacher training routes which may help ensure that a wide range of potential trainee teachers consider and train for the career.
“Importantly, our research finds that trainees from different routes are perceived by schools to be of largely similar quality.”