“THERE’S a real shortage of teachers in West Berkshire at the moment. West Berkshire needs about 80 to 90 newly-qualified teachers each year and there are schools which have not got their full quota. There are schools in West Berkshire that are carrying a deficit of teachers.”
That was the warning from executive headteacher Alexandra Butler, who operates the School-Centred Initial Teacher Training programme, designed to tackle the growing recruitment crisis across the district, out of The Willows primary school.
Running as West Berkshire Training Partnership for 15 years, before becoming SCITT in November 2012, the programme administered by UCAS has produced around 30 teachers for the area since its inception, and has five trainees at the school this year.
Miss Butler said: “People with a degree can come to us for one year. We get a lot of career changers and sometimes people who are a little bit younger.
“They spend nearly all of their time in school and it’s quite hands-on. The training is partly through education seminars and partly in the classroom. They are always in school, either being a teacher or shadowing the teacher.
“They learn by experience and mentoring in schools.”
The eligibility requirements to enrol are a 2.1 university degree and there is a quota for certain subjects with numbers changing each year.
According to Miss Butler, the pass rate stands at 98 per cent and 100 per cent of those who have passed are now in employment, with 96 per cent employed within West Berkshire.
“We want people ideally to come from the local area who will then stay working in the local area,” she said. “Fifty per cent of our trainees have already got jobs this year and it’s only March. The recruitment of teachers is, I think, a very big issue in West Berkshire.
“I don’t know if, as a headteacher, we will even have enough teachers to fill the roles next year.”
Asked why someone would choose to do this course over the traditional path of a PGCE she said that the hands-on experience really prepares budding teachers for the demands of the job.
“It’s probably harder than a PGCE. It is hard work but we are offering employment and it is creating the next generation of teachers.”
One trainee is 25-year old Adam Byrne from Newbury, who has just been offered a full-time position at the school to start in September.
Of the merits of the course he said: “If you do a PGCE you are 90 per cent in the lecture hall but here you really get to understand the classroom.”
He said that, although it had been tough and very challenging, it “really prepares you for teaching”.
Fees for the course are £6,500 for the full year with successful trainees gaining Qualified Teacher Status on graduation. Applicants can apply via UCAS online.