ITPs to take £27m hit from DfE funding change to FE teacher training

Only providers providers with an HE partnership will have access to student finance, DfE says

Only providers providers with an HE partnership will have access to student finance, DfE says

Private providers of FE teacher training will no longer have access to student finance unless they have a partnership with a higher education provider, the government has confirmed.

Following a consultation into further education initial teacher (ITT) training, from September this year onwards, pre-service FE ITT courses delivered by HE providers or their validated partners (including FE colleges) will only be eligible to receive student support funding.

This feared proposal means 13 ITPs are expected to lose around £27 million in fee income from the removal of its student finance access and could affect nearly 4,500 students, according to 2022/23 student loans company data.

DfE’s calculations assume each student pays an average of £6,000 in fees per course. 

In the consultation response, published today, the Department for Education slammed private sector providers, saying there was “no evidence” provided to “prove the existence of high-quality provision” or that they supply “significant” numbers of FE teachers to the sector.

It is worth noting that no private organisations or representative bodies responded to the consultation.

DfE added that Ofsted’s 2023 annual report highlighted their concerns about the state of FE ITT delivery in the private sector.

“Individual inspection reports conclude that there is little or no evidence that providers are adequately preparing their trainees to secure teaching employment in the FE sector,” DfE said.

The consultation was launched last September, and closed in November, and asked the FE and HE sectors as well as unions and awarding bodies if they agreed to limit student funding for pre-service further education initial teacher training (ITT) courses from 2024/25 to HE providers.

Overall, 71 per cent agreed with the government’s proposals – the college sector overwhelmingly (88 per cent) voted in favour of the move. A total of 16 FE colleges responded to the consultation.

The Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers said the move will “help safeguard quality and in doing so make for a better trained workforce and therefore improving employment opportunities for new teachers in the sector.”

Ben Rowland, AELP CEO, said: “The true impact of these proposals is hard to quantify at present and would only be seen in time. AELP certainly welcomes moves to improve the teacher training ecosystem, however it is important to emphasise that we already see ITPs delivering quality provision without the oversight of a higher education provider.”  

There was outcry from private providers when the proposals came out last year. One provider, the London School of Academics, which teaches 150 FE teacher trainees, said it would be forced to close if the government pushes through the policy.

“That’s not fair at all. We solely teach for FE staff and so would need to close down [if it got approved],” the organisation’s director Sheila Singh told FE Week at the time.

FE Week has reached out to the London School of Academics for comment.

Meanwhile, Dr Sarah Marquez, dean of higher education at University Centre Leeds – the part of Luminate Education Group that delivers ITT, said: “While measures to ensure higher quality within ITT are certainly welcome, encouraging and enabling high-quality ITT providers to train more teachers is equally important. Encouraging more potential teachers toward ITT through pay incentives forms a part of this, but investment must also be made to grow the overall capacity of high-quality FE ITT providers.”

Skills minister Robert Halfon said: “To ensure that the FE teachers of the future are equipped for success, we expect all teacher training providers to be setting and achieving the highest quality standard for their courses, and these decisive actions will enhance existing good practice in the sector, enabling further education to deliver exceptional teaching, achieve positive results for students and extend the ladder of opportunity to people from all walks of life.”

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