Primary schools face staff shortages as government orders School Direct recruitment shut-down

There are growing concerns that primary schools will be left short-staffed as all major training routes for primary teachers have now been closed for this year.

Schools have been told to stop taking on trainees under the salaried School Direct scheme – which was the last remaining training route open. Only those schools and universities that have not yet reached their minimum allocation are still allowed to accept applicants.

Universities were told in January that they could no longer take on primary trainees for September 2016 and the student-funded routes for School Direct and school-centered initial teacher training (Scitt) places were closed in February. Only those in London were allowed to carry on recruiting.

Now, the salaried School Direct route has also been closed, with providers told on Thursday to stop recruiting, unless they had fewer than 75 per cent of the trainees they had in 2015. All providers may continue recruiting until this number is reached.

But closing school-led places because a national limit has been reached has left some schools and Scitts unable to supply the number of trainee teachers that their schools expect.

Martin Thompson, executive director of the National Association of School Based Teacher Trainers said: “In broad terms, it means that providers are now left with what they’ve got. I personally think the Teacher Supply Model for primary is wrong, it has been set too low and the need for primary teachers, according to what we’re hearing from schools, is greater than the Teacher Supply Model is allowing.”

The Teacher Supply Model for recruitment in 2016 predicts that 11,489 postgraduate primary trainees will be needed in 2016.

Last year, there was over-recruitment of primary trainees, with the DfE saying that it met 116 per cent of its target – but Mr Thompson questioned whether this target had been correct.

He said: “If it is established that there weren’t the vacancies for these teachers that have been trained then maybe there were more trainees than we needed. But I don’t think it has been established.

“We are in the dark about what is going on in primaries in terms of overall numbers. But the messages we have from schools is they don’t have the teachers they need.”

There were 1,691 primary trainees taken onto salaried School Direct places last year, compared to 4,366 who trained at schools and paid tuition fees and 6,243 who trained at universities.

The government’s white paper Educational Excellence Everywhere indicated that this year’s system of allowing schools and universities to recruit until a national limit is reached will be abandoned and there will be a return to some form of allocations.

It states: “We will reform our allocation of teacher training places so that ITT is delivered by the best Higher Education Institutions (HEI) and school-led providers where new entrants are most needed, where places are most likely to be filled and where training is most likely to be delivered well.”

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