40 per cent of trainee teachers not in state schools five years later

40 per cent of teachers who begin initial teacher training are not in a state school job five years later, according to new research from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The research, funding by the Nuffield Foundation, shows that of the 35,000 or so individuals training to become teachers each year, around 14,000 are not working in the state school sector within five years.

The report highlights that teacher training costs on average £23,000 per trainee when costs to government and schools are taken into account. The high drop out rate means that on average more than £38,000 is spent on training every teacher still in post five years after completing training.

The IFS also found that costs for those training via Teach First are around £14,000 more than any other route. Given the high drop out rate for Teach First trainees, this means that the cost per teacher till in post five years after completing training is around £60,000.

The report also questions the large tax free bursaries available for shortage subjects, with some offered as much as £30,000, suggesting that there is little evidence on the effectiveness of these high-cost bursaries in terms of recruiting and retaining high-quality teachers. The report advises that more evidence on this is needed ‘urgently’ and that the long term costs of teacher training routes need to be more carefully considered.

Ellen Greaves, a co-author of the report, said: “The different routes to achieving qualified teacher status in England cost the taxpayer different amounts per trainee. The longer term costs are even more varied, due to differences in retention rates across routes. Dramatic changes to the system of initial teacher training should be based on assessments of the costs of each route in comparison to the benefit it brings, which has evidently not occurred to date. Greater policy attention is also need on how to retain teachers in the long-run.”

Chris Belfield, a co-author of the report, said: “A significant and increasing cost of training teachers is the tax-free bursaries awarded to graduates on certain routes, which are not conditional on ever entering the teaching workforce. The effectiveness of these grants needs to be evaluated, both in terms of the quality of graduates they attract and how long these graduates remain as teachers.”

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