trainee teachers to plug the shortfall in schools
Schools are in crisis. With plummeting teacher training applications and difficulties in recruiting enough staff to fill vacancies, tuition fees, unacceptable workloads and budget cuts have all been blamed for the current shortage.Teacher training for early years or nursery education
“The number of trainees is falling and it raises serious questions for the government,” says teaching recruitment expert Prof John Howson of Oxford Brookes University. “Teachers may well be asking themselves why they’re doing the job for the money they get, when it costs an extra year in training and possibly an extra loan.”
The Department for Education (DfE) has been trying to stem the problem by offering tax-free bursaries and scholarships of up to £28,000 for training towards a PGCE (postgraduate certificate in education) in many of the core subjects.
All teachers in England and Wales must have QTS (qualified teacher status), which can be acquired while training for the one-year PGCE – long established as the classic and favoured route into teaching. While the PGCE is typically considered university based, in reality trainees spend up to 24 weeks in at least two schools. Participants then have to complete a further year’s teaching as a newly qualified teacher.
“From an academic perspective, the PGCE provides students with the opportunity to think beyond day to day classroom practice and find connections between their own practice and the work of experts,” says Alison Griffiths, head of initial teacher education at Goldsmiths. “The PGCE, along with the QTS means that the student is also able to teach outside of England and Wales.”
The PGCE is not restricted to universities – school-centred initial teacher training courses also lead to a PGCE. Normally completed in one year it can include lectures and tutorials, but is centred around on-the-job training provided by teachers in a participating school.
Another popular route is pioneered by the education charity, Teach First. High achieving graduates are paid a wage from the outset and after initial intensive training go directly into the classroom. From last year it replaced the PGCE training with an upgraded postgraduate diploma in education) which also provided trainees with two thirds of a master’s degree.
Teach First recruit Grace Wickings, now teaching in a south London school, turned her back on investment banking to pursue teaching. “I’d just set up a charity in Kenya and realised money wasn’t everything, being happy in your job meant so much more,” she says. “I’d just seen the series Tough Young Teachers and the challenge really excited me.
“I wanted to teach kids in schools similar to the one I’d been to. I’m not interested in teaching in private or grammar schools.”
Even with these training options running concurrently, teacher recruitment and retention remains a problem and the DfE is under intense scrutiny to explain how it intends to support, retain and develop teachers, especially in light of rising pupil numbers. It has been asked to report back to the government’s Public Accounts Committee before the summer.
However, Victoria Pang, a PGCE student with Yorkshire Teaching School Alliance remains optimistic and can’t wait to get started.
“I feel this route has been supportive and nurturing during the very early stages of my career change. Although it is very hard work trying to balance the needs of a PGCE with life outside of school, I am confident I made the right decision, and am very much looking forward to my teaching career.