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UCL trains as many teachers as the smallest 57 providers

Last year, I wrote two pieces about the potential of the ITT market review. I outlined two ways that the review could be successful in its own terms:

  1. Less effective providers would be removed from the market and replaced by others that are better – either new entrants to the market or existing stronger providers expanding.
  2. All providers make substantial improvements to their programme so that they achieve fidelity to the Core Content Framework and the like.

This week, we found out that 80 out of 212 applicants in the first round were successful. Schools Week described this as ‘savage’. Although a piece in the Tes suggests that many providers missed out due to minor issues or technicalities like exceeding the word limit.

A lot of stories led with the 80 successful providers figure and highlighted that this risks creating a situation where there are not enough providers. The graph below shows the number of teachers each provider trains – each bar is a different provider and the grey line is the cumulative percentage. An obvious take away is that providers vary massively by size.

One way to think about this is to look at the extremes. In 2021, there were 233 providers, and if we split these up into thirds:

  • The largest providers trained 27,000
  • The middle providers trained 5,000
  • The smallest providers trained 2,500

So instead of asking what proportion of providers got through, a more useful question might be what proportion of the capacity got through?

We can look at the same data with a tree map, only this time the shading highlights the type of provider. The universities are shown in light grey, while SCITTs are shown in darker grey. I’ve chosen to highlight this because while the DfE are clear that they are neutral on this matter, if you do consider size, the providers split fairly well into two camps.

So what?

This issue shows that it’s worth looking beyond the average.

I also think this dramatic variation in provider size suggests that maybe we haven’t got the process right. At the extreme end, the largest provider, UCL, trains the same number of teachers as the smallest 57 providers. I suspect that there is dramatic variation within the providers – should we try to factor this into the process?

Are we managing risks and allocating scrutiny rationally with a single approach that does not factor in the size of the organisation? Should we review different things as the scale that organisations work at varies since new risks, opportunities and challenges arise with scale?  

What else?

Averages are alluring, but headteachers will rightly care about what is going on in their area. I’m aware of a lot of anecdotal evidence and more systematic evidence that teachers tend not to move around a lot after their initial teacher training – I think this may be particularly true in the north east.

After the second round, there will be some cold spots. After all, there are already… Thinking through how to address this will be critical.