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University ITT places disappearing

Concern is growing over the number of university and college-based initial teacher training (ITT) places that are under threat of closure because of the school-based programmes being introduced by the government.

In the past week a number of organisations have started to carry out surveys into the impact of the policy, which will potentially see higher education having less involvement in the training of teachers.

Only ITT institutions that achieved an “outstanding” Ofsted rating will continue to have a short-term training allocation. Those who failed to meet this level are having their student numbers severely cut, causing fears that many will simply become unviable and close. Some educationalists believe the new system is not sufficiently robust or quality-assured to be an effective trainer of the 40,000 or so teachers needed every year.

Concerns have escalated in recent weeks as the allocation of places has become apparent and it has been revealed that hundreds of university and college-led places have disappeared, and almost a quarter – or 10,000 – of primary and secondary ITT places have been allocated through School Direct.

Dr Simon Gibbons, the chairman of the National Association for the Teaching of English NATE, said the introduction of Schools Direct would mean a huge shift in the way teachers are trained. He explained: “Currently (trainee teachers) get to go into a range of schools, but under School Direct they will be tied to one school potentially picking up the bad, as well as the good, practice in that school.”
The ATL, meanwhile, is concerned that tipping the balance of responsibility and resources towards schools could pose such significant challenges to universities over planning and funding that universities may decide not to run any teacher training courses at all.

This would leave schools with the task of recruiting and training the 30,000 to 40,000 student teachers required every year just to maintain the necessary teacher numbers.

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