September 2013

The know zone

  • Checks and balances
    Inadequacies have emerged in the procedure for issuing enhanced criminal records certificates. It should give schools pause for thought, says Richard Bird. More
  • ‘Fair’ but not ‘fit’
    In a complex world, schools should be funded according to their present and future needs, not by the requirement to appear ‘simple and transparent’, says Sam Ellis. More
  • Inspectors under scrutiny
    Amid criticism of inconsistency in Ofsted judgements, Jan Webber examines the claims that some inspectors are not fit for purpose and suggests what could be done to restore confidence in the system. More
  • Fighting for better pay and conditions
    ASCL exists to reflect and promote the views of its members, which is why ASCL Council is so important. ASCL Council is made up of 148 elected representatives and is the association’s policymaking body, meeting four times a year. Council members represent ASCL at meetings with government officials and other organisations. It is from Council that national officers, including the president, are elected. In each edition of Leader this year, we will spotlight the work of a particular committee of Council. This month, it is the turn of the Pay and Conditions Committee. More
  • How is ASCL policy made?
    Council, ASCL’s policy-making body, meets four times a year and each of the 148 elected Council members serves on one of its main committees: Education, Pay and Conditions, Funding, Professional, and Public and Parliamentary, where future policy is discussed in detail. More
  • Could you be an ASCL Council member?
    Council membership is often described as the best in-service training that members can have. More
  • ASCL PD events
    "Curriculum Planning: Balancing the Vision Against the Funding" and "Conversion to a Multi-Academy Trust – the Options" More
  • Are you new to SLT?
    If so, then you will doubtless have richly earned your promotion and hardly be new to the concept of effective leadership. More
  • Presenting with impact
    What makes a great presentation? We all know when we have heard one. More
  • Stimulating physics
    The Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) is managed by the Institute of Physics (IOP), in partnership with the national network of Science Learning Centres. More
  • Adding value
    Understanding performance More
  • Direct action?
    ASCL members in some areas of the country are raising issues with recruitment on to the School Direct programme for teacher training, although in other areas it seems to be successful. Here members share their experience of how School Direct is working in their schools. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    The antidote to common leadership conundrums... More
  • Best supporting ‘actor’
    There is bound to be uncertainty when a school leader moves on... not least for the replacement who is given the strange title of ‘acting head’. But what does the job actually entail? More
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ASCL members in some areas of the country are raising issues with recruitment on to the School Direct programme for teacher training, although in other areas it seems to be successful. Here members share their experience of how School Direct is working in their schools.

Direct action?

A success

Working in partnership with 12 schools and the University of Chichester, we have successfully recruited 21 graduates to our PGCE [postgraduate certificate in education] programme, which we are delivering as a training hub for the university. School Direct has given us the means to set about recruiting locally to meet our own needs and this has been a positive step towards becoming self-sustaining in terms of excellent new teachers joining our schools. Initially we have focused on shortage subjects but our audit of need for the following year has identified a number of different subjects for which we intend to recruit. Our university partners have indicated that the quality of trainee recruited exceeds that of previous cohorts and we are excited about the future of the project.

Mark Sharman
Deputy headteacher and teaching school lead, i2i Partnership and Weydon School, Farnham, Surrey


The evolution of teacher training through School Direct has, for our partnership, been an exciting one. Starting small, we have recruited four primary and six secondary trainees across six schools. We have used the opportunity to develop training packages using expertise in schools and university providers to best meet the needs of trainees to develop towards outstanding within the contexts in which we work. Things to consider before embarkation are: how to successfully manage recruitment (including administration and placing successful applicants), negotiating the right training by all partners involved and ensuring that school staff are clear about School Direct. The two School Direct routes give an attractive opportunity to appoint to meet the needs of the school and individual. We have increased our partnership and doubled trainee numbers for next year, during which I expect there to be further development on the training package provided and initial teacher training (ITT) provider involvement.

Tania Fehrenbach
School Direct and School-centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT) Co-ordinator, Park Community School, Havant, Hampshire

Issues remain

We have been impressed by the quality of the applications in general, although some we’ve received have been surprisingly ill thought through given that we’re dealing with graduates. We’ve appointed both primary and secondary candidates and are extremely impressed by the calibre of those recruits. A number of issues remain both with the often bureaucratic demands of the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and the Department for Education [DfE], and the reluctance of the initial teacher training (ITT) providers to engage in a meaningful partnership. Then there are the obvious longer-term implications for teacher recruitment, particularly for niche subjects. However, for us, with someone strong leading the process, so far so good.

David Boyle
Principal, Dunraven School, London


The Schools Direct model has presented a number of challenges to us as a lead school in respect of recruitment, funding and finding placement schools for the trainees. We have decided to undertake the School Direct (salaried) route, which has helped to meet the needs of both primary and secondary schools in shortage subjects. As the lead school we have had to work very quickly to adopt a model that is completely different to the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP) and to convince schools of the potential it has for recruitment in the future for these shortage subjects. This has meant that the costs of recruitment are expensive and we need to be mindful that if this programme is to be sustained that schools are supported. Fortunately, we are now in a position of having recruited 23 high-calibre trainees who have all been placed in schools and who are ready to begin their year of training.

Ravinder Ghei
Assistant principal, Upton Court Grammar School, Slough, Berkshire

Reconsider funding model

School Direct is in principle an excellent idea because it allows schools the opportunity to train exceptional candidates in their shortage subjects and tailor a package that suits their individual need. The ‘expectation to employ’ is feasible if schools work together and encouraging more collaboration should improve outcomes for all.

However, as a model, it will only suit some candidates and the traditional routes should remain an option. The funding model needs to be reconsidered to allow schools the chance to attract candidates in a broader range of subjects such as design and technology and to ensure that quality, not economics, remains the key driver for the training offered to candidates.

Sarah McHugh
Assistant headteacher, Gillotts School, Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire