ITT recruitment improving, survey shows

Over a third of ITT providers are experiencing stronger recruitment at this stage of the year compared to last year, according to survey findings published by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT).

In her opening address at the NASBTT Annual Conference 2023, Executive Director Emma Hollis highlighted a “positively improving recruitment picture” for ITT providers, and clear direction from NASBTT members on initiatives which will make a difference going forward.

The survey, undertaken by NASBTT in October and November, drew responses from 102 ITT providers on ITT recruitment, the proposed DfE recruitment and retention strategy refresh, and Labour Party education proposals.

35% of respondents report that ITT recruitment is better at this stage of the year compared to last year. A further 58% of respondents say it is about the same, and only 7% worse.

Three quarters of respondents (75%) welcome the proposed refresh of the DfE’s recruitment and retention strategy – and when asked what will make the biggest difference to that strategy, bursaries upon application and tackling public perceptions about teaching account for over half of responses.

NASBTT members were asked to rate on a scale of 0-5 how supportive they are, in principle, of Labour’s proposals in their education manifesto. The review of bursaries came out on top at an average of 4.75 out of 5.

Members were also invited to suggest what was missing from those proposals from an ITT perspective. Two overarching themes emerged: The first was ensuring that all candidates can afford to train as a teacher in the first place, and the second was to demonstrate greater support for the sector (in general), including requiring or incentivising schools to engage in ITT.

“We all recognise the need, of course, to recruit more teachers but the question is ‘how’ this will be done longer term,” Emma said.

“A common view is this must be a part of a vision for increasing the competitiveness of the teaching profession via pay and other financial incentives, and tackling public perceptions about teaching and the work of a teacher. We also need to factor in all-encompassing issues on the funding of the profession, that teachers are having to ‘do more with ‘less’, and schools being required to run at a deficit model all the time. With the recent party conferences it is easy to become distracted by headlines and distant policy pledges which may impact on ITT and the wider education sector and the hard working profession tasked with implementation, but we will be feeding this survey insight and our members’ detailed suggestions into policy discussions,” Emma said.

In a wide-ranging speech, Emma also called for the introduction of a funded senior leadership team role of Teacher Professional Development Lead in every school, a new ECF retention payment being distributed over Years 3, 4 and 5 on the pay progression scale as part of an annual increase to encourage retention over a longer period, and a specialist ECF across all sciences up to A Level to address subject teacher shortages.

She also tabled the idea of government-funded student loan forgiveness for all teachers working in state schools up to a certain number of years, but warned that “there is a need for a long-term vision for the education sector, and a process for getting there, and this is something that we would argue should remain regardless of who is leading the country.”