Gazing into the teacher supply crystal ball: a response to Educational Excellence Everywhere

Last month’s White Paper  provides much for teacher educators to think about. Chapter Two lays out how the class of 2020 might train to teach. The pen portrait of Chris on page 34 has been painted to show a perhaps predictable picture involving school based  training at a SCITT as part of a multi-academy trust. The involvement of HEI ‘Centres of Excellence’, as envisioned in the White Paper, is not that prominent. So, in the spirit of imagining ‘another future’ I’ve looked into the SIoE crystal ball and pulled out  two potential alternatives…

It’s 2021 and Sonia and Waqas are in the final year of their 3 year degree level apprenticeships. They are both based in a coastal ‘cold spot’ school, Waqass in primary and Sonia in a secondary mathematics department. The school is part of a MAT with an established partnership with the Yorkshire and Humberside Centre of Excellence (based at, yes you guessed it, the SIoE…). Sonia and Waqas chose the new apprenticeship route as they are committed to work in the region.   The apprenticeship ensures they stay in the region for five years – bursaries are now long gone and replaced by a guaranteed CPD package in return for working on the coast. Sonia and Waqas started their apprenticeship straight from college, and the modules in their degree credit their development as teachers. They also are part of a regional online community of subject experts led by the university. They rub shoulders with Teach First participants, PGCE student teachers and overseas teachers working in international schools. Local employers, alongside local government, have funded the apprenticeship/ golden handcuffs scheme as they agree that teacher recruitment and retention is a cornerstone of regional social and economic development.

2021 also sees Jack and Chloe register for their Education Doctorate in music and drama education. They’ve just finished their two year PGCE working at Masters level. The award is open to all  QTS teachers and recruits nationally and internationally. The course is a partnership between a long established SCITT, two HEIs and a Conservatoire who together aim to  develop subject specialists who will lead primary and secondary arts education at a national level.  The teachers have the opportunity to work in the schools served by the SCITT and also develop as researchers in residence in posts jointly funded by the SCITT and the HEI consortium. They provide a sustainable solution to shortage subject teacher supply and are future leaders for their specialists, superseding the previous SLE and part-time HEI tutor stop-gap solution in the old School Direct era.

You may consider these vignettes to be the fanciful musings of a Marty McFly character or as unlikely as Isaac Asimov’s mechanical teacher ( But ‘there is another way’ and just as Back to the Future was hit as well as miss in terms of predictions, the alternative futures imagined above give us the opportunity to plan ahead. These plans would benefit individuals and communities everywhere, supporting excellence developed in conjunction with local partners in schools, colleges and HEIs.

David Owen is the Head of the Department of Teacher Education






2 responses to “Gazing into the teacher supply crystal ball: a response to Educational Excellence Everywhere”

  1. Jo Tomalin Avatar
    Jo Tomalin

    This paints an interesting picture. I’m interested in how the online community of subject experts will work. Will these be experts in mathematics, or in mathematics pedagogy, or both? Will Sonia be doing mathematics as part of her degree, or only education units linked to mathematics? Will she have opportunities to work with other mathematics students face to face? Will she be based in the school from the beginning of her apprenticeship? At what age will someone be able to start these apprenticeships? What will the issues be in the schools with eighteen year olds (or younger?) working there? How will their pastoral needs be supported?

    1. David Owen Avatar
      David Owen

      Interesting questions Jo.. I think the White Paper provides the space for undergraduate teacher education to flourish – especially focusing on STEM subjects. I think there will be a demand from potential students for primary UG also. So my answer would be that any degree level apprenticeships would run alongside undergraduate provision and use the same expertise with a definite subject focus (both subject knowledge and pedagogy).
      Thanks for the comment – glad you find it interesting!

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