Teacher training targets and inequity in subject bursaries

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) report, 21 September, 'The Impact of Covid-19 on Initial Teacher Training', provides an analysis of UCAS data outlining teacher training applications and accepted offers across primary and secondary education in England.

Scrutiny of the Report reveals that most humanities and arts subjects have over recruited this year, the first time in many years, with art & music (combined) exceeding their  recruitment target by 139% this year (p.8). Whilst this figure is not broken down into specific arts subjects, our concerns about this as the justification for the removal of teacher training bursary for art and design, are borne out. After years of under recruitment (2019-20 art & design recruited 69% of its target) we believe this to be very short sighted strategy. Even more concerning is the lack of bursary for D&T which, in terms of their teacher supply model (TSM) were second only to physics – despite this, physics will receive a 24K bursary (2021-22).

There is no parity here, something we firmly believe we must ask for.

We acknowledge that whilst art and design along with many other subjects are reported to have recruited their targets, bursary debt on top of graduate debt will continue to inhibit many outstanding professionals from entering the profession. Furthermore, we believe the withdrawal of art and design bursaries will in the near future result in the same under recruitment (as seen year on year before the pandemic). Furthermore, these inequitable and shortsighted policy decisions will hit graduates from those socio-economic groups, who are already accruing huge debts, and will be the least likely to be able to train. The bursary policies are divisive and not serving or attracting those individuals which our profession desperately needs.

Michele Gregson said:  This year’s removal of bursaries for specific subjects is a hammer blow for equity in teacher recruitment - the removal of bursaries for some subjects over others shows both bias and discrimination. How is it that D&T trainees, will not receive a bursary when, in terms of trainee recruitment targets, D&T is second worse only to Physics. We need the best candidates to enter the profession and we need a broad and balanced curriculum - after years of under recruitment in nearly all subjects, including art and design, the profession needs graduates for a broad and balanced curriculum, this includes D&T, and graduates from all socio-economic backgrounds too. 

This year’s removal of bursaries for some subjects and not others exemplifies subject bias and discrimination. We will continue to call for the Government to reintroduce bursaries to all subjects so that all trainee teachers are treated fairly and equitably.