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Problems with school placements

During discovery, we identified four problem areas:

  1. reporting data
  2. mentor availability
  3. school placements market
  4. scalability and standardisation

1. Problems with reporting data

1.1. School-centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) providers cannot report school placement data to Register teacher trainees (Register).

1.2. Higher education institutions (HEIs) do not report complete school placement data to DfE via the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) because of current limitations with the system.

The data is often incomplete because:

  • HESA collects data periodically, not continually.
  • ITT providers don’t update data in the next submission window if it has changed.
  • data collection isn’t mandatory

1.3. Most school placement data is siloed within ITT providers and is not visible to DfE.

2. Problems with mentor availability

2.1. Reforms in ITT have heavily impacted ITT mentor availability.

The reforms have increased the time requirement for mentors, which includes:

  • 20 hours of initial training
  • 6 hours of refresher training per year

2.2. Changes in ITT provider accreditation mean schools have had to change providers or curricula because the provider has had to partner with another provider and change their curriculum.

2.3. Mandatory school participation in the Early Career Framework (ECF) means fewer mentors are available for ITT.

2.4. Schools prioritise ECF delivery over ITT delivery because:

  • early career teachers (ECTs) are staff members and take priority over trainees
  • they can claim funding for ECF training for time outside the classroom and ECF mentor training time

3. Problems with the school placements market

3.1. Some ITT providers need help placing trainees because of limited school placement capacity in their school network.

When providers have to look beyond their network, finding an appropriate school becomes onerous. Specific subjects (for example, modern foreign languages) and trainee needs (for example, training with a disability) compound this.

If only some schools are participating in ITT in an area, the problems with capacity are exacerbated.

3.2. Some ITT providers need help filling their school placement capacity with suitable trainees in their area.

Some areas aren’t attractive to trainees. For example, the cost of living in an area makes it difficult for trainees to relocate or choose teaching as a viable profession.

4. Problems with scalability and standardisation

4.1. The lack of standardisation in the ITT curriculum and process makes it difficult for schools to:

  • maintain partnerships with multiple ITT providers
  • access a larger pool of trainees

4.2. The lack of standardisation in mentor training and qualifications makes it difficult for:

  • mentors to maintain their ability to mentor when they move schools or their school changes ITT provider
  • schools to maintain partnerships with multiple ITT providers

4.3. Schools struggle to respond quickly to last-minute changes in trainee or placement availability. This is because:

  • there is a long lead time to get agreements signed with providers
  • providers have different curriculums for both trainees and mentors