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Recording trainee placement data

We understood from research that Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers have found it more difficult to secure all the school placements their trainees need.

We created a new field and guidance for ITT providers to add placement information about each of their trainees in the Register service. Providers can search and select a placement school by its unique reference number (URN), name or postcode.

A screenshot of placement fields in the Register service
Placement details in the Register service

What are ‘placements’

As part of becoming a teacher, trainees are expected to spend time at a minimum of 2 contrasting school placements as part of practical training. Trainees also have a mentor to give them support during school placements and learning. They can also provide feedback and guidance.

A screenshot of the placement guidance webpage in Register

Why we did this

DfE has a need to understand more about what is happening with school placements and ITT mentors. DfE does not hold this information in the Becoming a Teacher (BAT) service line, even though providers and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) do.

By understanding what is happening in the placements space, we can then better meet the needs of providers and trainees by understanding potential impact of school placement/ITT mentor issues.

The Register service is the best place to hold this information because trainees must complete a minimum of 2 placements prior to being awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

How we did this

In November 2023, we asked providers to submit at least 2 placements for each registered trainee.

We tied this into the annual performance profile sign off period.

A policy change meant providers were required to include placement data for all registered trainees with a course outcome in the 2022 to 2023 academic year by a deadline of 31 January 2024.

We asked providers to give us school location details for each school placement


Aligning placements with performance profile sign off

The Teacher Analytics Division (TAD) do not use placement data in their analysis and publication of performance profile outcomes, so they were less invested in making sure the placement data is collected by the deadline of 31 January each year.

We want to encourage timely, ‘in-year’ updates of school placement data after the performance profile deadline.

Understanding the extra work load we asked of ITT providers

We recognised different pain points between School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) and higher education institution (HEI) providers when giving us placement information.

SCITTs have a smaller number of registered trainees to account for during the performance profile period compared to HEIs.

We made a mistake in assuming HEIs would be able to import trainee data through HESA into Register during the 15 to 31 January 2024 update period. This was not the case, so we imported the URN for all HEI trainee placements from the student collection into Register for them.

HEI providers cannot retrospectively update their data for previous academic years due to the way HESA stores and shares the data with us.

The intention is to alleviate the burden on HEIs and to guide them to use the bulk upload tool to fill in any gaps in their placement data.


Streamlining the performance profile sign off form

We removed the need for a senior officer from the provider organisation to sign off. User research observations informed us providers check the validity and quality of their work with other team members or leads when preparing for performance profile sign off. The need for a formal check by a senior officer is made redundant by getting the person submitting the form to declare the data is accurate to the best of their knowledge. It saves the provider time trying to access a senior officer.

We asked for feedback regarding placement data. Most responses said the process was straightforward which validates the tools and guidance are working. We’ll use any negative feedback to iterate and improve the service.

Next steps

We plan to hold a retro after the performance profile deadline of 31 January 2024.