suggests that we are meeting targets, views on the ground do not support this conclusion. It is possible that government has been swayed

by news of an upsurge in teacher training applications. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report, The Impact of Covid-19 on Initial Teacher Training: Implications for Teacher Supply in England, showed the overall number of teacher training applicants is 16 per cent higher than the same time in 2019. The number of accepted offers to primary and secondary courses is 14 and 20 per cent higher, respectively, in 2020 compared to 2019. The report also predicts that increased

recruitment, coupled with higher retention rates, could close gaps in shortage subjects such as mathematics, modern foreign languages and chemistry, which will have all seen a “substantial increase” in offers by September 2021. When the boost to retention rates is taken into account, NFER estimates that recruitment in some subjects could be as much as 240 per cent of what is needed. However, we would argue that perceived ‘sufficiency’ does not necessarily equate to quality. Our position is that the immediate increase we

have seen in teacher recruitment does not solve the longer term recruitment crisis, it only disguises it, and failing to take a long-term view as seems to be the case in the latest funding round will only store up issues for the future. Whilst the pandemic and ensuing recession appear to have made others more likely to consider a teaching career (there was a 35 per cent increase in applications between mid-March and mid-August 2020), we do not yet know whether this initial ‘bounce’ in people looking to enter the classroom will continue. Additionally, retention payments will

not be available to trainees starting their courses in 2021-22. Government introduced the early-career payments in 2018-19 to encourage teachers in shortage subjects to stay in the profession after qualifying. They were initially available only to new maths teachers, who were entitled to £5,000 – or £7,500 in high-needs areas – each in their third and fifth years in the job. The scheme was then adapted, with lower payments, to include maths, physics, chemistry and languages teachers starting postgraduate teacher training in 2020-21. These teachers were entitled to payments of £2,000 each in their second, third and fourth years of teaching – with each payment boosted to £3,000 for those in high-needs areas. But the DfE has now said it will be scrapping the scheme from 2021-22.

We have been at pains to point out that the

teacher retention crisis is perhaps more acute even than the recruitment crisis. There is nothing which currently suggests that teacher retention will drastically improve beyond the initial pattern which has been seen during the pandemic unless concerted efforts continue to be made to make the profession an attractive one in the long term. Whilst early-career payments were only one small part of the picture in achieving this, it seems premature to be removing them with no clear evidence of how retention might play out for the current cohorts of teachers. Again, we fear this could have long-term implications. Our most recent survey of NASBTT members,

published in October, found that as well as funding being at the “top of everyone’s mind”, providers were also keen for more to be done around praising trainees’ and schools’ support and response to the current, and ongoing, circumstances. This is especially relevant as cuts in funding will do little to raise the perceived status of the profession at a time when more is being asked of it than ever before. Trainees are an important and effective part of

post-Covid recovery in schools. We are delivering a campaign on ‘hero trainees’, which underlines the contribution that trainees have made, and continue to make in schools this academic year,

given the likelihood of ongoing Covid disruption. We are also supporting the DfE with their desire to shine a spotlight on trainees and positive placements. Within all this there is an important differentiation to be made between trainees being seen as a trusted and valuable resource, who need nurture and support, rather than as a cheap ‘extra pair of hands’. In September the Education Support charity

published a new report on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the mental health and wellbeing of education staff which revealed “a profession feeling unsupported and unappreciated”. The report, Covid-19 and the classroom: working in education during the coronavirus pandemic, found that half of the UK’s school teachers (52%) say their mental health declined during the first stage of the pandemic. Whilst the majority (58%) accessed the support of family and friends to help them cope, a quarter (24%) said they had not gained any support. We subsequently drilled down into the

responses provided by NQTs/trainee teachers. Whilst there were only 61 responses from this group, we wanted to better understand what those undertaking ITT and NQTs were reporting in order to inform our own efforts. We found that the majority of NQTs/trainees did not feel appreciated by the general media (71 per cent), UK government (62 per cent) and general public (61 per cent). Internally, whilst 12 per cent of NQTs/trainees did not feel appreciated by senior management teams this rose to 22 per cent for school teachers; and externally, whilst 32 per cent of NQTs/trainees did not feel appreciated by the DfE this increased to 47 per cent for school teachers. This highlights a perceived gap in the

appreciation of the job done by NQTs/trainees, as well as school teachers, during the pandemic and is in part why we are currently undertaking some work to gather the stories of ‘hero trainees’. Our objective is also to bring schools who are not engaged in ITT with us and, whilst the funding changes are not helpful in encouraging non-ITT schools to consider ‘growing their own’, this will not prevent us working across the sector to support the expansion of school-based ITT. 28 November 2020

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