Exclusive: Schools warn of more teacher shortages as recruitment to most primary training courses is closed

Recruitment for the majority of primary school-based initial teacher training was shut by the government today, leaving schools warning of looming shortages for 2017

Primary headteachers – who rely on “grow your own” trainees to staff their classrooms – have been told to stop recruiting them. Some warn the results could be “disastrous”, as they have yet to recruit the numbers they need this year .

The news comes just two days after the Department for Education was damned by the National Audit Office for its handling of the teacher recruitment crisis.

From today all primary training providers outside London that have taken on at least 75 per cent of last year’s numbers have had to stop recriotomg trainees on to fee-charging School Direct or SCITT (School Centred Initial Teacher Training) schemes.

Jo Palmer-Tweed, executive director of Essex and Thames Primary SCITT, which covers 128 schools, said: “The closure of primary recruitment to teacher training is potentially disastrous for our region. Our data shows that a large number of our schools will be unable to recruit the staff they need as a result.”

The closures come because of a new goverment approach under which allocations for individual training providers have been scrapped. Instead there has been a free for all this year, with providers allowed to recruit as many trainees as they need until a national limit is reached.

National cap

That national cap has now been met and, from today, only providers in London or those yet to fill their minimum numbers, can continue recruiting. There are still places available on salaried School Direct routes. University PGCE primary courses closed last month.

Some heads are particularly concerned because they say that recruiting through SCITTs is the only way they can guarantee the new teachers they need.

Rupert Snow, head of Hamstel Junior School in Southend which is part of the Essex and Thames primary SCITT, said: “Locally it is getting increasingly difficult to recruit within the Southend area and south-east Essex as a whole.

“Teachers aren’t travelling, when I finished I moved from Sunderland to London to get a job. People aren’t doing that now.

“We have a quite substantial need for NQTs within South-east Essex and to not have them available is quite concerning. We recruit from our SCITT and other SCITTs.”

Ms Palmer-Tweed says her SCITT will have just 69 students in 2016 but her schools need at least 170.

Greater ‘flexibility’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We want all schools to be able to recruit high-quality teachers, and attracting more top graduates into the profession across the country is a key part of this. As part of our nationwide recruitment drive, we have put in place a new system for initial teacher training (ITT) recruitment for the 2016 to 2017 academic year.

“This is in response to feedback from the sector, and will give schools and universities much greater flexibility to recruit the best trainees, while reducing bureaucracy for providers.

“Primary is a popular subject and recruitment has been rapid, which is a very encouraging sign. We have been clear from the outset that we will apply controls, where required, in certain subjects to avoid over-recruitment.”

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