‘Fire-sale’ at NCTL

In February I wrote about Black Friday for primary recruitment when  providers and schools were induced into a panic as  the ‘school led’ recruitment route hit the 90% mark. Since then providers and schools have been turning applicants away with the double whammy of School Direct not being able replace any applicants  who might have withdrawn.

Fast forward to 6th September when many schools and school-led courses will have started and when NCTL sent out the following  ‘fire sale’ message:


The timing of this couldn’t have been worse  as NCTL were dangling a carrot when the reality is many providers have already restructured their courses due to cuts in allocations, made difficult financial and staffing decisions and have got applicants through a myriad of compliance regulations! Equally once again NCTL seem  to be pursuing a policy of who can fill places as quickly as possible rather than rewarding those who diligently recruit and consistently maintain quality: “we will prioritise requests from ITT providers where potential candidates are readily available”.

We can only guess why this has happened at a time when we are waiting for information on 2017/18 allocations and for details of Centres of Excellence – however it would seem to be admitting that either:

  1. The failure of the School Direct policy of not allowing a ‘top up’ for successful applicants who withdrew was ill conceived.
  2. A greater number of applicants have withdrawn or failed the skills test.
  3. NCTL having thought they had a buffer (which we were told)  miscalculated the total needed.
  4. Brexit (it seems to be the go to excuse these days)!

Hopefully NCTL might enlighten us?

Global challenges in teacher supply

It is still a reality that where you are born and who you are taught by will be a significant factor in determining your future life chances. Equally it is an often repeated (although questionable) adage that “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers” (McKinsey, 2007).

Despite the above, currently there is an estimated 5 million shortfall of teachers in the world. Also according to UNESCO in 32 of 94 countries less than 75% of primary school teachers were reportedly trained according to national standards whilst approximately 59 million children do not have access to primary education.

The scale of the global recruitment crisis, whilst already large, is however set to grow, as there is now a global commitment that by 2030 every child will be entitled to 12 years of education from age 5 to 17. To achieve this means training approximately 26 million teachers to both allow for the growth in teachers required and to address the attrition of teachers leaving the profession. This isn’t however just an issue of supplying teachers as there are fundamental questions about how to ensure you achieve a constant supply of teachers and how to ensure the future teachers are appropriately qualified whilst also considering how this is best achieved.


A further dimension also relates considering teaching as a global profession with increased mobility. As such how do you therefore manage the flow and best educate teachers who are more likely to be globally mobile than previous generations? Organizations such as ‘Teach for All’ and high profile events such as the Varkey foundation $1 Million Global Teacher prize certainly help partly address the supply and raise the profile of teaching. Nevertheless even whilst some global regions such as central Asia may not have the same acute recruitment issues of Sub Sahara-Africa the challenge still remains of how best to develop great teachers in sufficient quantities.

The most obvious solution to addressing the global teacher crisis is to increasingly employ under-qualified adults with little or no training whilst also changing legislation to allow immediate entry into the classroom. Equally importing teachers from other countries is also seen as a solution for particularly wealthy countries who can pay attractive salaries, however this merely exacerbates the problem elsewhere.

Increasingly the use technology may offer solutions as the increased availability of broadband, smartphones (with the cheapest in the world being around $5) and tablets mean that teachers can be trained in different ways. Alternatively teachers can even be bypassed with students taught directly via online platforms or through accessing MOOCs.

Whilst the scale of the problem will vary across the world many countries are reexamining their teacher supply through:

  • Reconsidering legislation about who can teach.
  • Actively recruiting teachers from other countries.
  • Changing the entry requirements and qualifications for entry into the profession.
  • Reconsidering how best to prepare new teachers for the classroom.
  • Increasing the number of fast-track and employment based teacher preparation schemes.
  • Reducing government involvement through encouraging privatization of teacher education.
  • Changing teacher certification and licensing requirements.
  • Encouraging the diversification of routes and alternative providers of teacher education programmes.
  • Reexamining the balance between theory and practice in teacher preparation.


Whilst the diversification of teacher preparation in many countries is driven by necessity there are also new opportunities emerging through considering new ways of preparing teachers for the profession. Increasingly distance learning, hybrid approaches, localized residency programmes, clinical practice, and the rise of employment-based programmes are all competing with traditional University and College preparation programmes.

Ultimately both a global challenge and opportunity now exists, not only to ensure there is a sufficient quantity of teachers to meet the increasing demands but also to develop new ways of preparing teachers of sufficient quality to increase the prospects for all children.

This blog was originally written in preparation for a talk I am giving at EduTech Asia.