December 2015


  • Influential focus
    Six months after the General Election, we have a much clearer understanding of how the political land lies. Whatever the challenges may be, there are numerous opportunities for us to influence policy makers both in government and in opposition, says Brian Lightman. More
  • Making maths add up
    When specialists are scarce, leaders need to understand the fundamentals of mathematics in order to ensure it is well taught throughout their schools, says Julia Upton. More
  • Central lines
    John Banbrook looks at the advantages of centralising services for schools in a multi-academy trust (MAT) and the issues for leaders to consider in terms of governance, staff and costs. More
  • Off the chart
    The obsession with tracking and recording data threatens to annihilate joyful learning and teaching, says Dame Alison Peacock. To make assessment truly meaningful, we need greater expertise throughout the system. More
  • No barriers
    Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson brushed aside society’s low expectations of disabled people to achieve multiple golds on the athletics track and a seat in the House of Lords, yet still faces prejudice in everyday life. She talks to Julie Nightingale. More
  • Recruitment drive
    The number of graduates entering teaching is falling and the confusing plethora of routes into the profession isn’t helping. Dorothy Lepkowska looks at how schools are tackling the problem themselves. More
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The number of graduates entering teaching is falling and the confusing plethora of routes into the profession isn’t helping. Dorothy Lepkowska looks at how schools are tackling the problem themselves.

Recruitment drive

It’s no exaggeration to say that teacher supply is in crisis. Pupil numbers may be rising but the number of early 20-somethings entering the labour market is falling. Applicants to teacher training courses for 2015 were down 12 per cent on the previous year, according to University and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) figures.

The government’s recent announcement on English Baccalaureate (EBacc) also begs the question as to where all the extra teachers required to teach a full EBacc curriculum will come from. Add to that a chaotic, unwieldy system of routes into teacher training, regular ministerial attacks on standards and an education system in constant flux, and it is not hard to see why teaching may not be the most attractive of graduate professions.

Mindful of the effects of all of these factors, ASCL has set up an advisory group to help understand the issues facing schools and to put in place a strategy to support those finding it hard to recruit and fill vacancies.

The Initial Teacher Education (ITE) advisory group will also help to shape and influence policy with ASCL to influence the DfE through a ten-point plan ( uk/10point), developed with the expertise and knowledge of heads all over the country of what works and where the system can be improved. Its ‘routes into teaching’ map aimed to clarify some of the confusion around how to enter the profession.

Carol Jones, ASCL’s Specialist for Leadership and Teacher Professionalism, says, “For the next five years we are unlikely to see many changes in routes into teaching. We know there are problems and some schools are starting to experience severe problems. But they are also beginning to address these by working in partnership and thinking creatively about how to ensure that school-led Initial Teacher Training programmes are securely in place.”

Here, we look at how three teaching schools and/or alliances are finding ways to recruit the teachers they need and hold on to them.

Bromley Collegiate

Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, a collaboration of 28 schools in Bromley and Kent, used to recruit trainees directly to its school-centred initial teacher training programme (SCITT). But the plethora of routes into the profession now has muddied the waters, resulting in confusion and training places being left unfilled.

“The system now is bureaucratic and cumbersome,” says Karen Raven, Head of Chislehurst School for Girls, the lead school in the collegiate. “Applicants have to go through UCAS, so we have an employment-based system but are using a university-based process. It is incongruous.

“We also have the skills test which has to be taken by everyone, even if they have a Master’s or PhD. At a time we should be encouraging people into teaching, we have barriers being put up by people who know nothing about teaching.”

At Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, all trainees have a mentor, and their pedagogy and effectiveness is constantly under evaluation. The programme is regularly refined to ensure it is fit for purpose and meeting the needs of schools locally. There is also a fast-track system of promoting career-changers with expertise in certain areas, such as management. Among its trainers are a large number of Specialist Leaders of Education (SLEs) and a number of heads within the collegiate are themselves National Leaders of Education (NLEs), who teach and deliver sessions on the programmes.

At a time of teacher shortages nationally, the partnership is constantly looking at creative ways of recruiting, including careers fairs, and revamping the website to make it more appealing. “We spend a lot of time trying to outwit the system the government has created,” Karen says.

For the future, the collegiate wants to see recruitment uncoupled from UCAS and a review of the need for the skills test. There also needs to be more structure with one organisation coordinating training and matching demand with supply, Karen adds.

Top tip: Make your Initial Teacher Training the first step in a continuum of support and development of a teacher that continues throughout their career.

Hornsey Schools for Girls

Hornsey School for Girls is a maintained school in the London borough of Haringey with a tradition of running early-stage teaching programmes.

Angela Rooke, the Deputy Headteacher, says, “We are planning our CPD [continuing professional development] knowing teacher shortages are looming. Our relationship with Teach First has helped us to plug some gaps, but it is clear that there are shortages not just in maths and sciences but in languages.

“We have moved our recruitment window to earlier in the year – February rather than March – which requires planning ahead. We have done this in response to our curriculum planning, which now takes place in November.”

Hornsey runs a number of CPD programmes for different levels of entry and newly qualified teachers (NQTs) have a bespoke programme providing them with coaching and mentoring and with professional review meetings every half-term.

“We look at the standard they’re working at and what support they need,” Angela says. “Our CPD has progression routes structured into it because we know there is also a national shortage of leaders and we have a creative challenge programme for expanding teachers who are good and outstanding, which takes them out of their comfort zone and moves them on in their practice and thinking.”

The school would like to see “more joined-up thinking” between national policy and recruitment to ensure that there is a supply of teachers to meet government demands on schools. The recruitment process also needs to be simplified for applicants, Angela adds.

Top tip: Be flexible in your programme so it responds to the needs of the school and locality, and ensure it has a strong mentoring and coaching element.

Hackney Teaching School Alliance

The alliance of 13 primary, one special and two secondary schools offers high-quality training, mentoring and tutoring to trainees. Staff use their extensive knowledge of recruitment routes to attract entrants, yet have still struggled to fill the number of training places they have.

Rae Potter, Associate Head of Clapton Girls’ Academy, the lead school, says, “This is an outstanding school and we normally recruit easily, but it has been a challenge to recruit into science – specifically physics – because of national shortages.”

In fact, they employed eight NQTs to fill vacancies in science and the excellent mentoring and programme of inductions offered meant that those teachers have remained and the department is now thriving. The primary schools, meanwhile, have had 20 trainees and all except one have found jobs, 14 of them within the alliance.

The training offers progression routes from the start. “People going into teaching used to have different motivations but now they want to know where the career progression is and what opportunities are open to them,” says Rae. “You have to invest in high-quality training, mentoring and tutoring.”

The alliance would like to be given the allocation of training places it needs, she adds.

“We wanted to recruit 24 teachers but because of capping we only got 17 for the primary programme. There is a mismatch between the government’s rhetoric about the autonomy of schools and what happens with allocations. It would be nice if schools were trusted to make those decisions.”

Top tip: Offer high-quality training firmly rooted in pedagogy and practice, delivered in a rigorous, motivational and practical way.

Dorothy Lepkowska is a Freelance Education Journalist.


ASCL recently met with Professor Becky Francis, standing adviser to the Education Select Committee and recommended that the Committee conduct an inquiry into the recruitment and retention of teachers. At the time of writing, ASCL has been invited to submit evidence to the Education Select Committee ahead of a one-off session to examine the issue of teacher recruitment. We will update you on this in our usual communications to you.


ASCL produced a simple guide to the current routes into teaching – see www. The DfE’s Get into Teaching website – https://getintoteaching. – has more detail on each route.


Teacher Supply and Initial Teacher Education

This paper looks at the current teacher supply and ITE system and makes recommendations to the government and to the teaching profession in order to take this forward – see

Fast track

Staff from Hackney School Alliance use their extensive knowledge of recruitment routes to attract entrants.

Science fact

Hackney’s science department is now thriving following the recruitment of eight NQTs.