In a bid to beat the shortage of teachers in England’s classrooms, the government is being accused by teacher training providers of ‘lowering the bar’.
They say that they are being put under pressure to justify their decisions for rejecting candidates.
Now, the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) says that the answer to recruiting more teachers is not to make it easier for applicants to enter the profession.
However, the government says that its recruitment requirements have not changed.
They also point out that for those who gain qualified teacher status, then they must have met the relevant standards laid down by the provider.
Teacher recruitment targets
England’s teacher recruitment targets have not been met for six years and headteachers say it’s becoming more difficult to recruit staff, particularly teachers in specialist subjects.
Now ministers are trying to get more applicants to consider teaching and have drawn up a strategy to meet teacher retention and recruitment targets.
In doing so, they are also increasing the chances applicants have for passing various skills tests and for shortage subjects they’ve implemented limitless initial teacher training places.
But providers are now saying that they are coming under pressure to take the sort of candidate for recruitment that they had rejected previously.
The organisations have been to various meetings with the Department for Education and also with Schools Minister Nick Gibb.
The meetings have taken place over the last six months with officials quizzing them over the candidates that have been rejected and the reasons for doing so.
‘Experience tells us they might not be right’
The NASBTT’s head, Emma Hollis, said: “There’s pressure on trainers for dealing with the problem we’re faced with and to accept a higher proportion of applicants, even when experience tells us they might not be right.
“Teacher training providers are aware of the recruitment issues facing schools and it’s right that they act as gatekeepers to the teaching profession.”
Ms Hollis added: “A lowering of the bar is not a solution to the recruitment problems as providers need to maintain a quality when they select candidates.
“I think the rejection rate is a positive and do not think that anyone who would disagree. Our bar is high for teaching as we need to ensure workforce quality.”
She added that the message from the DfE was that so long as applicants meet the entry requirements, that is to have English and maths GCSE passes, as well as a degree, then they should be accepted onto a teacher training course.
But she says there are other skills that are just as important, such as liking children and the ability to make relationships with others.
Right to reject candidates who were unsuitable
The schools minister Nick Gibb wrote to teacher trainers a year ago saying they were right to reject those candidates who they believed were unsuitable.
In his letter, Mr Gibb added: “It is also important to develop and support those with a talent and desire to teach.”
He pointed out that when assessing applicants, trainers should focus on suitability for training to become a teacher.
A spokesman for the DfE said: “We want more teachers and it’s why we published last week the first ever retention and recruitment strategy to ensure that teaching is an attractive as a profession so we can retain a train the next generation.”