Teacher training reforms could turn away high-quality trainees

The changes came into effect this year and aim to allow growth in school led initial teacher training (ITT). The reforms mean that school led routes now have a national minimum level of recruitment, while university led PGCE courses are allowed to recruit as many applicants as they want until a national limit is reached.

Last week university led PE courses were ordered to stop recruiting as the limit had been reached. It is now thought that history courses will close their doors in the next few days, as they are already 90 per cent full.

The government allocated 238 places to university led courses out of a potential 816. As of the 25 of November, universities have offered twice as many places as school led providers.

The University of Cambridge has warned that these national limits mean that Universities may have to turn away potential high quality trainees, and the Cambridge History PGCE course may end up being scrapped altogether.

Christine Counsell, a senior lecturer at Cambridge, said: “We have no shortage of brilliant applicants for the coming year. But we refuse to rush the process. We have selected 21 terrific applicants and the plan is to put them through our usual tough selection process.

“But if the cap on numbers comes down tomorrow that won’t happen and the Cambridge history PGCE will disappear.”

Due to fears of the limit being reached, interviews at the UCL Institute of Education (IoE) in London have been brought forward to ensure as many offers could be made as possible. Once the limit is reached providers are unable to offer anymore places regardless of the quality of the applicant.

The Department of Education has responded to the concerns by saying that there are still spaces available on school led courses.

Katharine Vincent, programme leader for secondary PGCE at the IoE, said that UCL will direct applicants to its partner schools when recruitment closes, but added: “The system is not working. No one thinks it is working. It hasn’t been properly thought through.”

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