The UK’s public spending watchdog is to investigate whether England’s initial teacher training system is providing “value for money”, it was announced today.
The National Audit Office has also revealed that it will look into whether the Department for Education is overseeing teacher training effectively.
Every year about 35,000 people start training that will lead to qualified teacher status. Under the coalition and conservative governments, the system has shifted dramatically from university-led courses towards those run by schools.
But the move has not gone entirely smoothly. Last year Charlie Taylor, then chief executive of the National College for Teaching and Leadership, warned that the introduction of the School Direct teacher training scheme had created “instability and turbulence”.
Meanwhile, teacher workforce expert Professor John Howson has repeatedly warned that the government’s failure to hit targets for the number of trainees could lead to teacher supply problems. The honorary research fellow at the University of Oxford has described the situation in some subjects as “a disgrace”.
Now the National Audit Office is to mount its own investigation. The watchdog said its research would consider: “If the system for training new teachers produces sufficient numbers of new teachers of the right quality for schools; and if the department has effective oversight of the market for training new teachers.”
The watchdog plans to publish its findings before Christmas.