School Direct causing shortage of maths and science teachers, report claims

The TES is reporting warnings that an overhaul of teacher training is fuelling a shortage of new maths and science teachers…

In a new report, Universities UK raises concerns about the impact of the government’s decision to give schools more say in the recruiting and training of staff. It says that if the pace of change continues, it could create problems in training enough teachers.

Since 2012/13, initial teacher training has undergone a radical shake-up, with an increasing number of training places going to the new School Direct programme, rather than universities.

Under School Direct, schools take the lead in taking on trainees. But this has led to “instability” for many universities, with the numbers of training places allocated directly to institutions falling by 23 per cent in three years, says Universities UK.

While School Direct has been more successful in recruiting trainee English and history teachers, it has been less successful for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, the report says.

“This has contributed to a shortfall in the number of trainee teachers recruited into several subject areas, such as mathematics and physics,” it says.

“There are concerns, therefore, that, as the government pursues its ambition for a school-led system, the pace of change could create teacher supply issues in the future if university-delivered training becomes unsustainable.”

Official figures show that School Direct managed to fill just two thirds of its allocated places in 2013/14, while universities filled over 90 per cent, the study found…

More at: School Direct causing shortage of maths and science teachers, report claims


Universities UK are hardly an independent observer here, but are they none-the-less making valid points? Is School Direct fuelling a shortage of new maths and science teachers? And, if so, why are they struggling in these STEM subjects? Please give us your insights in the comments or via Twitter…


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  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Not sure Schools Direct can be blamed exclusively; STEM teachers are few & far between because rewards are greater elsewhere

  2. andylutwyche

    SLT_Kat SchoolsImprove Agreed! Pool of talent small in first place due to UK attitudes towards STEM & other careers offer greater reward

  3. Janet2

    @andylutwyche SchoolsImprove This problem isn’t just confined to STEM subjects but to recruitment across the board.  If unis offering teacher training close their ITT departments, and many of them are doing so, then school-based training will have to train more teachers.  But schools are unlikely to want to take on trainees every year as unis do or recruit trainees in subjects which are already well covered in the school.

  4. trehan_rachna

    SchoolsImprove #very true, many schools hvng one teacher 4 both maths and science, time to take action against school authorities

  5. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove Inevitable outcome of system where no-one takes responsibility for having an overview. Also Ma/Sci grads earn more elsewhere

  6. acet2001

    andylutwyche SchoolsImprove I don’t see that there is actually any structure in place at all. Random allocation of places. QTS not needed?

  7. andylutwyche

    acet2001 SchoolsImprove There is the problem with Schools Direct I think, but not sure that anything would make a difference with STEM

  8. sjwilk

    paulsnorman exeprattler This is not because #STEM applicants are choosing university ITT. #SchoolDirect is not recruiting.

  9. paulsnorman

    sjwilk exeprattler do the places still exist within PGCE, though? Is SD not recruiting at all or are places not being filled?

  10. paulsnorman

    sjwilk exeprattler interesting. I wonder if economic recovery is playing a role or media image of teaching too offputting? Thoughts?

  11. sjwilk

    paulsnorman exeprattler Unis have expertise recruiting STEM to ITT, and takes risks to meet targets. #SchoolDirect does not.

  12. sjwilk

    paulsnorman exeprattler The too-few #STEM graduates have many options. Teaching remains a less attractive option for many.

  13. paulsnorman

    sjwilk exeprattler that’s what I thought. I was certainly in a minority moving from Engineering to education even 22-23 years ago!

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