Press Release: Where is the best teacher training: Oxford, Cambridge or Billericay?

Centre for Education and Employment Research

Embargoed until 00:01, Thursday, 11 August 2011 (Wednesday for Thursday)

The Billericay Educational Consortium, one of the two pioneers of school-centred teacher training, is the best for teacher training in England.

Oxford University comes second and Cambridge University third.

Southfields Community College (Wandsworth), one of the first Training Schools, is also in the top ten, where six of the places are taken by school-led schemes.

All 227 university, school-centred (SCITT) and employment-based training providers (EBITT) are compared on entry qualifications, Ofsted grades and take-up of teaching posts.

The annual review of teacher training by the Centre for Education and Employment Research is published as the Good Teacher Training Guide 201. It is written by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson of the University of Buckingham.

This is the first year that it has been possible to compare all three training routes since for the first time teaching take-up figures for EBITTs have been published. Trainees on school-led schemes were much more likely to go into teaching than those trained at universities. Universities tended to have the higher entry qualifications and get the better Ofsted grades.

But as Professor Smithers said: “It is no good having excellent entrants and outstanding inspection grades if the trainees do not go into teaching.”

The training system is currently very wasteful. Overall, even with the school-led schemes included, only 62% of the trainees were teaching in state schools in the January following.

The Government wants more of teacher training to take place in schools, but although school-led schemes grew rapidly in the first part of the century they have stalled for the past six years. Nearly four-fifths of trainees (79%) are still trained in universities and university colleges.

Under the new Ofsted inspection regime it is less easy to tell the providers apart. 33 universities were rated outstanding in the 2011 profiles compared with only two in 2000. It seems unlikely that this explosion could all be real improvement.

Over the fourteen years CEER has reviewed teacher training, there has been a twelve point increase in the percentage of trainees for secondary teaching with firsts or upper-seconds (46% to 58%). But this only follows the rate that these degree classes have been awarded by the universities (50% to 61%). While teaching is holding its own against other graduate occupations, it is not increasing its share of good graduates.

Some subjects continue to struggle to find teacher trainees. Over a third of those in modern languages (37%), a quarter in maths (25%) and physics (24%), and a fifth in chemistry (20%) and combined science (21%) lacked a 2.2 degree which the Government regards as the minimum for public funding. In these subjects also fewer of the trainees became teachers.

Undergraduate courses do little to make up the shortfalls, with only two trainees specialising in modern languages, one in physics and seven in chemistry. Only half of these made it to the classroom.

Dr Robinson said: “It may be necessary to accept that even with large bursaries there will be shortfalls and plan accordingly. The United States, Japan and Korea have science high schools for example.”

The school-centred schemes (SCITT) and the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP), which the Government has been linking together as school-led schemes, have a good record of trainees going into teaching and continuing in the profession.

But the employment of those qualifying on the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme (OTTP) dropped from an initial 92% to 64% three years later, calling into question its value.

The Government has been enthusiastic about Teach First and is expanding this programme, but it should not be forgotten that it was devised as a two-year commitment on the part of good graduates planning careers in business and industry to give something back in challenging schools.

Of the 149 entrants in 2005/6, 63 chose to remain in teaching (which is a plus), but within three years the other 86 (58%) had moved on.

In 2009/10 the Teach First intake had been increased to 480. But that is only 1.2% of the 38,429 teacher trainees, and only half are likely to become teachers.

Prof Smithers said: “Teach First may be the icing on the cake, but it is not the solution to the supply and quality of teachers.”

The report offers a number of policy pointers:

  • The data suggest that in seeking to expand employment-based training the Government will have to find ways of paying for it. It is expensive because the trainees are paid a salary. The lack of recent growth is mainly because extra places have not been funded. This is short-sighted because more of the trainees go into teaching.
  • Government attempts to raise the bar for entry will have to reckon with the long standing shortfalls in some subjects. The Government hopes to combat these with bursaries of up to £20,000. But shortages may be more a matter of personality than short-term financial incentives. Subjects like physics attract people who prefer abstract impersonal patterns to working with children day in and day out. It may be necessary to accept the shortfalls and find ways of getting the most able pupils together with the best teachers. Countries like the United States, Japan, Korea and Singapore, for example, have actual science schools (not like ours which are in name only).
  • The number and quality of the entrants and the take-up of teaching posts must put question marks against the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme, undergraduate ITT courses for the secondary age range, and key stage 2/3 courses.


  1. The Good Teacher Training Guide 2011 is available on the Centre for Education and Employment Research’s websites from 00:01 on 11 August 2011:
  2. The Teacher Training Profiles are published annually by the Training and Development Agency for Schools. Employment data are collected for the January following completion so the 2011 profiles refer to the training year 2009-10. CEER has analysed these national data each year since they were first published in 1998.
  3. The ranking of the training providers is arrived at by giving equal weight to Ofsted inspections, entry qualifications and take-up of teaching posts. This is the first year that a full comparison across the training routes has been possible since it is the first year that teaching take-up by the employment-based trainees has been publicly available.
  4. The teacher training system is complex. Three main routes into teaching are recognised by the TDA: the universities and colleges (which we have abbreviated to UNIs), the school-centred schemes (SCITTs), and the employment-based programmes (EBITTs).

The UNIs and SCITTs offer training towards the Postgraduate Certification in Education (PGCE), and tuition fees are payable. These routes differ in that, in university training, the trainees are found placements in schools by the universities and the funding is given to the universities. SCITTs are consortia of schools taking the lead in training, and funding is channelled through them. Universities validate the PGCEs of SCITTs and may be hired by them to provide some of the teaching.

There are also employment-based routes (EBITTs). There are three sorts of EBITT postgraduate programme: the Graduate Teacher Programme (GTP); the Overseas Trained Teacher Programme (OTTP); and Teach First. There is, in addition, the Registered Teachers Programme (RTP) for non-graduates who study for a degree while training.

The routes differ markedly. The GTP and OTTP lead to qualified teacher status, but not usually to a PGCE, and the trainees are paid a salary while training. Provision is tailored to the previous experience of the trainees.

The Teach First is curiously classified as an EBITT since it is a two-year programme organised by a charity leading to a PGCE and other qualifications. It was designed as a scheme for graduates with good degrees (firsts or upper-seconds) who commit to work in challenging schools for two years, with the incentive that the enrichment programme they undertake is as much a basis for careers in business and industry (with the understanding that they will be looked upon favourably) as to remain in teaching.

In its recent discussion document, Training Our Next Generation of Outstanding Teachers, issued in June 2011, the Government has begun to re-categorise the routes by linking SCITTs and GTP as school-led.


Professor Alan Smithers, Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham, +44 (0)1280 820270 (direct line) +44 (0)7974 765864 (mobile)

Dr Pamela Robinson, Centre for Education and Employment Research, University of Buckingham, +44 (0)1280 820353 (direct line) +44 (0)7974 725006 (mobile)