House of Commons Library

Initial teacher training in England

Published Wednesday, October 17, 2018

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.

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This briefing provides information on initial teacher training (ITT) in England, focusing on 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.

Around 30,000 individuals enter ITT in England each year through several routes. Although they vary in other ways, the main distinctions between the different ITT routes are whether they are school-centred (for example, School Direct) or higher education led, and whether the trainee pays tuition fees or receives a salary. A school-led postgraduate teaching apprenticeship has also been available since September 2018. 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. In addition, since September 2012 trainees have had to sit and pass professional skills tests in literacy and numeracy before beginning their course. Prior to 2012, the passing of the tests was an exit requirement of training.

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 to some trainees, depending on the subject they are training in and, for postgraduates, the class of their first degree. For 2018-19 the Government is also piloting early-career retention payments for maths teachers. Under the scheme, eligible individuals will receive early-career payments of £5,000 each (£7,500 in some areas) in their third and fifth year of teaching in addition to a £20,000 bursary during their training.

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 been awarded QTS between 2013-14 and 2018-19 and be employed in one of 25 participating local authorities.

Section two of the briefing provides more information on the different ITT routes and the entry requirements, with section three providing further detail on the sources of financial support. 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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