The “very real” impact of the cost-of-living crisis on Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers and trainee teachers has been revealed today (November 29) in new research undertaken by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT).
In her opening address at the NASBTT Annual Conference 2022, Executive Director Emma Hollis said that having battled through the recent ITT market review and reaccreditation process, rising costs and inflation were now directly hitting the sector.
She reported that this year’s trainees are already withdrawing as a result of increased costs, and outlined the key aspects of ITT provision that are in danger of being cut.
The survey, undertaken by NASBTT this month amongst over 80 ITT providers, found that:
- 93% of providers report the cost-of-living crisis, and rising costs, are having an impact on their ITT provision. When asked how their provision is being impacted key themes include the cost of travel for trainees proving to be prohibitive, trainees not applying or withdrawing, as well as staff and operating costs.
- Staff salaries, pay award increase and energy prices are the three rising costs causing providers the greatest concerns in their 2022-23 ITT budget. As a direct result, 48% of providers expect a budget shortfall this year and a further 34% believe this is a possibility. However, looking forward, 82% say it is ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ that their provision will impacted further in 2023-24.
Aspects of ITT provision that are in danger of being cut or affected as a result of rising costs are:
- Staffing (loss of staff or increased workloads due to being unable to recruit for need).
- Teaching/training resources.
- Payments to schools.
- Fewer face-to-face meetings/training.
- Potential closure of provision.
88% of providers report that the cost-of-living crisis, and rising costs, are having an impact on trainees. The three areas that trainees are most affected are fuel/transport; wellbeing and energy prices. Other areas include mortgages/rent, food and clothing. 47% of providers have had trainees already withdraw as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis (ranging from 9 in 2 providers down to 1).
96% of providers are ‘concerned’ or ‘very concerned’ that more trainees may withdraw due to the cost-of-living crisis. When asked what would support them, key ideas and ‘requests’ for help include financial support (bursaries across all subjects and phases, childcare costs, hardship funds, transport costs etc), and funding staff wage increases for providers – most are linked to teacher pay so are facing increased staff costs with no corresponding increase in tuition fees.
Outside of the cost-of-living crisis, 45% of providers state that the ITT market review and reaccreditation process has impacted the financial strength of their organisation. When asked ‘how’, the key themes are:
- Impact on time/capacity and workload with no additional staffing (it is simply unaffordable to recruit help).
- Risk of large national providers undercutting/competing in areas already struggling to recruit.
- Schools unable to meet the additional requirements of mentoring and removing offers of placements/requiring more funding.
- Costs associated with increased staffing to meet new quality requirements effectively – especially requirements around lead mentors and general mentor training – funding available does not cover the actual costs.
- Closure of provision.
“We cannot ignore what we are seeing here,” Emma said. “These are worrying trends, and we have to acknowledge and respond to the very real threats in front of us today before we can really consider the future following the market review.
“Trainee recruitment is already challenging. If we look at secondary, for example, Ministers are likely to miss their trainee teacher target for next year by a third, the ninth time in the past ten years that targets have been missed. Whilst I have repeatedly said that the glimmer on the horizon is this is all happening at a time of economic uncertainty – and history shows that during periods of economic difficulty there is generally a boom in applications for teacher training – clearly financially-hampered ITT providers and financially struggling trainees will not lead to a positive uplift on these gloomy recruitment figures.
“We will be discussing these findings with government, and sharing these with other sector representatives, to draw attention to the issues raised and the workable suggestions being proposed by ITT providers through the survey.”
In a wide-ranging speech, Emma also called on schools to “open their doors to trainee teachers, not just when they are recruiting new teachers but in supporting their training right from the start”, and highlighted the availability of time and capacity for mentoring that is “causing some concern for our sector”.
The NASBTT Annual Conference, which this year is titled ‘Reflect, Connect, Refocus’, runs until 1st December. Speakers include the Department for Education, Ofsted, Chartered College of Teaching, Education Endowment Foundation, National Foundation for Educational Research, National Institute of Teaching, Teaching School Hubs Council and Teacher Development Trust.