House of Commons Library

Initial teacher training in England

Published Monday, December 16, 2019

This House of Commons Library Briefing provides information on initial teacher training (ITT) in England, including the different ITT routes, the sources of financial support for trainees, and recent policy developments. A separate Library Briefing, Teacher recruitment and retention in England, provides information on teacher supply and retention more generally.

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Over 30,000 individuals enter ITT in England each year through several routes. Although they vary in other ways, key distinctions between the different ITT routes are whether they are school-centred or higher education led, and whether the trainee pays tuition fees or receives a salary. All ITT courses include time spent teaching in at least two schools and lead to an award of qualified teacher status (QTS).

All teacher trainees, regardless of route, are required to meet a number of minimum standards. They must, for example, hold GCSEs in English and Maths (and science for enrolment on primary ITT) at grade C / grade 4 or higher. Up to April 2020 individuals entering training are also required to pass professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy before beginning their course. The skills tests will be abolished from April 2020 and replaced with a new system whereby providers assure the fundamental English and maths skills of trainees before the end of their ITT.

The system of financial support for teacher trainees is complex. Broadly, eligible undergraduate and postgraduate trainees on non-salaried routes can apply for funding under the standard undergraduate student support system. In addition, a range of bursaries and scholarships are available for postgraduates, depending on the subject they are training in and the class of their first degree. Since 2018-19, the Department for Education (DfE) has also been piloting the use of early career-payments as a means of encouraging teacher retention. Payments are available to certain teachers starting their ITT in the 2018-19, 2019-20 or 2020‑21 academic years.

In addition, in October 2017 the Government announced that it would pilot a student loan reimbursement scheme for science and language teachers in the early years of their careers. To be eligible teachers must, among other things, have completed their ITT between 2013-14 and 2020-21 and be employed in one of 25 specified local authorities.

The briefing’s final section provides brief information on policy developments in ITT since 2010, including:

Commons Briefing papers SN06710

Authors: Nerys Roberts; David Foster

Topics: Higher education, Schools, Training

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