Page 14 of 81
2.7 We want to continue to improve the quality of teachers and teaching, and to raise the profession’s status. Part of the solution will be to recruit more of the most talented people to the profession. Top-performing countries consistently recruit their teachers from the top third of graduates24. Some go further: South Korea recruits from the top five per cent and Finland from the top ten per cent of the cohort who graduate from their school system25. Evidence also suggests that prior academic attainment makes the biggest difference when combined with a high level of overall literacy and numeracy, strong interpersonal and communication skills, a willingness to learn, and the motivation to teach26.
2.8 So, there are three key areas where we need teachers to be very well equipped: subject knowledge and academic preparation, overall literacy and numeracy, and the personal and interpersonal skills that are necessary in order to interact successfully in the classroom. We will take steps to raise expectations and make improvements in each of these areas.
2.9 First, for recent graduates, we will raise the bar for entry to PGCE teacher training by ceasing to provide Department for Education funding for applicants who do not hold at least a 2:2 degree or equivalent from September 2012.
2.10 Second, we will review the operation of the current ‘basic skills’ tests of literacy and numeracy which teachers are required to pass before they can practice. We will make sure student teachers take the test at the start rather than the end of the course, reduce the scope for retaking (currently one in seven teachers re-sits one of the tests more than three times), and strengthen the rigour of the tests to ensure they set a high enough standard.
2.11 Third, we know that highly effective models of teacher training (including those of Finland, Singapore, Teach First and Teach for America) systematically use assessments of aptitude, personality and resilience as part of the candidate selection process27. We are trialling such assessments and, subject to evaluation, plan to make them part of the selection process for teacher training.
2.12 As well as raising the minimum standard, we also need to make sure that teaching is sufficiently attractive to the country’s most able young people. So we will develop and extend routes into teaching which have proven to be attractive to this group. Teach First is a very effective third sector organisation backed by business and government which has shown what is possible. It recruits highly able graduates, who would not otherwise have considered teaching28, to work in some of the country’s most challenging schools for at least two years. It trains graduates for six weeks in the summer and then places them in schools as paid trainees, also offering a range of opportunities for them to develop as leaders. In 2010 over 5,000 graduates competed for 560 places on the scheme and Teach First is currently seventh in the Times Top 100 list of graduate employers29. Ofsted, in its first review of Teach First in 2008 said that half of the trainees were ‘outstanding’ while some were ‘amongst the most exceptional trainees produced by any teacher training route’30. Even though they are chosen because they would not otherwise have considered teaching, some 60 per cent do stay in teaching31.
2.13 We will provide funding to more than double the size of Teach First from 560 new teachers to 1,140 each year by the end of this Parliament. This will include extending it across the country, and into primary schools.
2.14 We will also ask Teach First to develop Teach Next, a new employment-based route to attract high-fliers from other professions. The proportion of people who train to teach having changed career has grown very sharply, but we are aware that some of the most able potential career changers are put off by the thought of re-training and ‘starting again at the bottom’. So, Teach Next will seek to draw in talented professionals with similarly strong academic records and interpersonal skills to those on Teach First, and with experience of the world of work. It will provide an accelerated route to leadership, will begin recruiting in 2011, and by September 2013 will have trained and placed around 200 highly talented career changers.
2.15 We will also encourage Armed Forces leavers to become teachers, by developing a ‘Troops to Teachers’ programme which will sponsor service leavers to train as teachers. We will pay tuition fees for PGCEs for eligible graduates leaving the Armed Forces and work with universities to explore the possibility of establishing a bespoke compressed undergraduate route into teaching targeted at Armed Forces leavers who have the relevant experience and skills but may lack degree-level qualifications. We will encourage Teach First to work with the services as they develop Teach Next, so that service leavers are able to take advantage of new opportunities to move into education. Service leavers also have a great deal to offer young people as mentors and we will be looking to increase opportunities for this. The charity Skill Force does fantastic work in this area enabling more former Armed Forces personnel to work alongside the children who benefit most from their support.
2.16 More generally, we wish to provide stronger incentives for the best graduates to come into teaching, especially in shortage subjects. We think that there is scope to provide stronger incentives at the point at which students would start post-graduate initial teacher training, including exploring how we might pay off the student loans of high-performing graduates in shortage subjects who wish to enter teaching. Incentives could be tailored to offer more to graduates with good degrees and to those who would teach shortage subjects.
2.17 We also think that there is scope to provide support for particularly capable students through their undergraduate degrees, as the Armed Forces do with officer cadets. We will examine how to provide scholarships through university for capable students who commit to entering teaching after graduation. Students might be expected to commit themselves to teach for a fixed period of time, and either to train or work with young people during university holidays, in return for financial support as undergraduates.
2.18 The reforms to higher education and to student finance announced by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, following the Browne Review, are likely to mean significant wider change for higher education. We will therefore publish for consultation our detailed proposals for the funding of initial teacher training early in the New Year.
Page 14 of 81