Skip to main content

Initial Teacher Training Providers

Volume 826: debated on Monday 5 December 2022


Asked by

To ask His Majesty’s Government, further to the Initial teacher training (ITT) market review, published on 29 September, what percentage of initial teacher training providers have not received accreditation to enable them to continue offering training courses from 2024; and what assessment they have made of the effect this will have on ensuring all regions of the country are able to offer such courses.

My Lords, adopting the recommendations from the Initial Teacher Training Market Review and subsequently undertaking the accreditation process to ensure that only the high-quality providers remain in the ITT market is key to achieving this Government’s aim of an excellent teacher for every child. One hundred and seventy-nine providers have been accredited to deliver ITT from 2024, covering every region in the country. We are supporting the sector to develop partnerships and expand provision to meet trainee demand in all areas.

My Lords, despite the fact that there was no evidence that the quality of initial teacher education had a connection to the failure to reach recruitment targets, two years ago the Government introduced the review to which the Minister referred for a complete overhaul of the system. Every existing provider was forced to apply for reaccreditation, and many were unsuccessful. Despite what the Minister has just said, in Cumbria, for instance, there is no ITT provider remaining, and in other areas such as Yorkshire and the Tees Valley, there are very few—so much for levelling up. Last week, the DfE announced that it had again failed to reach its targets for primary and secondary school teacher trainee applicants—by 40% in secondary. Can the Minister say how, in those circumstances, the Government can justify cutting the number of ITT providers?

The Government are focused on ensuring that there is the right capacity in the market. The noble Lord is right that not all existing providers have been successful, but the Government are working with them to make sure that they can work in partnership with accredited providers to make sure that we have capacity all across the country.

My Lords, on top of the serious concerns that the noble Lord, Lord Watson, has raised, we now have a shortage of teachers in many subjects. Does the Minister agree that we should introduce bursaries for all subjects not reaching their recruitment targets? We need the teachers as well as the courses.

The Government take bursaries very seriously and we review bursaries each year. Amounts granted in 2021-22 took account of the extraordinary circumstances of Covid, but we are increasing bursaries in 2022-23 and in 2023-24 similar to the levels offered pre-pandemic.

My Lords, if we have a problem with training people for initial teacher training then the review of special educational needs will put extra pressure on them, because they will have to be able to deal with problems that historically they are regarded as being underprepared for. What will be the result of the review?

I cannot prejudge, but it is only a few weeks away that we will be able to discuss the results of the review. Clearly the Government initiated the review because they take seriously issues for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

To what do the Government attribute their inability to meet teacher training targets? Could school-based training play a larger role?

My noble friend asks an important question. There is no single reason why the recruitment market is so challenging, but clearly there is a very competitive labour market. Historically, teaching has not offered the same flexibility that is now offered post-pandemic for many graduate jobs. School-based teacher training will play an extremely important part and we continue to promote the role of a teacher, with its incredibly important contribution to our children and our economy, as hard as we can.

My Lords, data released by the DfE just last week showed that in the 2022-23 academic year there were just 444 trainee physics teachers across the whole of England. Some 400 schools in England do not have a teacher for physics A-level. The next generation of English scientists is being failed and it is catastrophic for our international competitiveness. Specifically on physics, how will the Government address this?

The noble Baroness is right that physics is the most challenging subject for recruitment, but I know that she would also acknowledge that mathematics, chemistry and other important STEM subjects see much more encouraging results. We are implementing specific measures for physics, including the cunningly named Engineers Teach Physics programme, which has now been extended to all ITT providers from this academic year following the pilot scheme.

The Minister will know that I have always felt that the reaccreditation exercise was wasteful and badly timed. I cannot help thinking that a 40% shortage in secondary school ITT places is as near a crisis as we are going to get without the Government acknowledging it. New national providers are untested and there is no guarantee that they will be able to recruit. What does the Minister think will happen if some of those that appealed against being turned down for accreditation are accepted? Will the Government bear in mind the areas that are not yet covered, which my noble friend Lord Watson mentioned?

I obviously cannot comment on those providers that are currently appealing if they did not receive reaccreditation. There are some very strong providers among the new ones—the National Institute of Teaching and the Ambition Institute, among others—but as I mentioned in reply to an earlier question, we are focusing very much on building partnerships with those that have received accreditation and those that were unsuccessful.

My Lords, I declare my interest as chancellor of the University of Greenwich. Does the Minister recognise that there are very many real concerns among universities that have been teaching and training teachers for many years about this whole process and its inadequacies? When the appeal process is completed, will she meet with a delegation of vice-chancellors and chancellors to discuss the learnings from this exercise?

I hear the noble Lord’s concerns. We believe that the accreditation process was thorough and fair, but I would be delighted to meet the group, as he suggests.

Can my noble friend clarify whether accreditation is still taking place, or just on appeal? If it is just on appeal, what help is her department giving to those organisations to make sure they come up to standard? Presumably, they have been working for years in this subject area.

If I understood my noble friend’s question correctly, I can tell him that there has been a reaccreditation of all providers in the field. Some providers chose not to apply to be reaccredited, some new providers applied, and the majority of both university and school-based providers were successful—80% of universities and 83% of school-based providers. We have been looking at supporting those successful organisations to work, where appropriate, with those that were not successful, to make sure that we can build those partnerships and ensure we have the capacity we need.

With those accreditors that lost their accreditation, we are obviously going to lose their skills and subject knowledge. How can we use that effectively? Can the Minister assure us that, in certain shortage subjects—we mentioned physics—accreditors that have been the pipe stream providing those teachers are not ones that have lost their accreditation?

I really am sympathetic to the issues that the noble Lord raises, but our principal focus is on the quality of initial teacher training, and then of course on the whole early career framework, to support teachers in the golden thread of support and training that the noble Lord has heard me talk about many times. That is our number one focus, and we will of course make sure that there is sufficient capacity and that those skills are used in the partnerships that I have already outlined.

My Lords, does the Minister agree that, although there may be a place for school-based training, the fact is that all schools are under tremendous pressure of resources, and that training teachers should strictly be the role of university schools of education rather than our schools?

I am afraid I cannot agree with the noble Baroness, try as I might. The evidence is clear, from listening to teachers, that practical experience in the classroom is extremely valuable and that the school-based route is extremely popular and effective.