FAQ’s for School Leaders who would like to know more about School Direct

Why might I want to work with Catalyst?

The secondary schools in, or closely associated with, the Catalyst Teaching School Alliance have a long and successful track record of working with many different Higher Education Providers in the area of post-graduate teacher training.  This success story will continue, but we all need to be aware that the teacher training landscape is changing rapidly in the area of “Schools Direct”.

Schools Direct is the result of the Department for Education’s vision that teachers will secure the best training if they work closely with the schools that will eventually employ them.   For this reason, an increasing proportion of funding is being directed towards places that schools recruit directly.  The significance is that schools rather than HEIs receive and use the PGCE course fees so that they are able to have more control over the training process.

Catalyst has made its first steps into School Direct in the 2013-2014 training year by recruiting and training three primary and two secondary “School Direct Salaried” trainees (the training is very similar to the former GTP scheme, which closed this year).   Furthermore, in the 2016-2017 cycle it is our intention to bid for a number of “School Direct Fee-Paying” places.  The SD Fee-Paying scheme is similar to the PGCE route, but with the candidate applying to join a group of schools rather than a university.  In offering places, it is expected that the training group will select candidates whom they would expect to be able to employ.  However, by joining, trainees are not guaranteed employment, nor are the schools obliged to provide vacancies.  The DfE’s intention is that School Direct places will roughly approximate demand for new recruits in an area, and that schools will generally want to recruit from the pool of NQTs which they have created.

Any school can register on the School Direct database and could be offered places to recruit students.  However, the language used – “we encourage schools to work in partnerships led by outstanding schools” -suggests that they are expecting groups focused around the ITT lead school in a teaching school alliance to be more successful.  This does not mean the trainees will be placed in the lead school, rather that that school will help to co-ordinate recruitment and delivery across the group.

Registering for School Direct will not prevent a school from taking additional university-based PGCE students and for this reason schools will hopefully feel that they would like to register their interest in the programme.  Should you wish to name Catalyst as your teaching school alliance, with Leventhorpe as the nominated lead school, then we will be very happy to support this.

What is School Direct?

School Direct is a new route into teaching which is led by schools (such as Leventhorpe in Catalyst), working in close collaboration with Initial Teacher Training (ITT) providers (such as the University of Hertfordshire).  Many Teaching Schools are part of this new programme, along with other outstanding schools. School Direct has two routes, one of which will replace GTP (Graduate Teacher Programme), which ended in June 2013.

  • The School Direct Training Programme – often referred to as School Direct (Fee-Paying) – which is open to graduates and funded by tuition fees paid by the trainee, who may receive a bursary from the Teaching Agency (TA) – dependent on degree classification and/or subject –  and a student loan. Please click here for the information on bursaries.
  • The School Direct Training Programme (Salaried) – often referred to as School Direct (Salaried) -, which is an employment based route into teaching for high quality graduates with three or more years’ career experience. This version of School Direct replaces the GTP route. The trainee is employed as an unqualified teacher by a school. The Teaching Agency (TA) provides funding, which the school can use to subsidise the trainee’s salary and/or training. There will no longer be a “supernumerary” requirement, as there is with the current GTP.

Both routes must be delivered in partnership with an accredited provider (University of Hertfordshire).

What is the aim of School Direct?

The aim of School Direct is to enable schools, and groups of schools, to play more of a role in the recruitment and selection of the trainees who best meet their needs, with the expectation that those teachers will go on to work in the group of schools where they trained.

Will School Direct be the only teacher training route, in coming years?

No.  School Direct is intended to run alongside existing undergraduate and PGCE courses.

How does School Direct differ from existing provision?

School Direct aims to make effective use of the knowledge and experience of school colleagues in the delivery of ITT programmes, working in partnership with the experience of accredited ITT providers such as The University of Hertfordshire.

Does a school have to be a Teaching School to be involved in School Direct?

No.  The Government is eager for as many schools as possible to be involved in School Direct but schools may request School Direct training places through a lead school/teaching school, or independently; if the latter route is chosen, the school must have negotiated a partnership with an accrediting body (University of Hertfordshire).

Is School Direct available all over the country? I heard it was only for areas that experience difficulties in attracting NQTs?

School Direct is available across the whole of England.

My school has not been involved in teacher training in the past.  Can we take School Direct trainees?

Schools without experience of ITT are encouraged to partner with a school, or teaching school alliance (such as Catalyst), which has experience of working in ITT.

Are Pupil Referral Units or Special Schools able to request School Direct places?

Yes.  PRUs and Special Schools are most welcome to request places either through a lead/teaching school (such as Leventhorpe), or directly from the TA.

My school has always taken PGCE trainees. We wish to continue this practice, but may be interested in taking one or more School Direct trainees, too.  Is it possible to do both?

Yes.  There is no need for schools to stop their current practice. School Direct trainees would sit alongside PGCE trainees in the same way as GTP trainees did, in the past.

My school has always taken GTPs.  Are we able to continue with this?

No. 2012 -13 was the final year of Graduate Teacher Programme for teacher training. School Direct (Salaried) will be the closest route to the current GTP route from 2013-14 onwards.

I have heard that my school would be required to employ a School Direct trainee during training.  Is this true?

There are two versions of School Direct:

  • For School Direct (salaried) places, a school must employ the trainee for the duration of the training. The trainee must be employed as an unqualified teacher and the school is responsible for meeting all employment responsibilities (just as for GTP programmes of study). The Teaching Agency (TA) provides funding for the higher education institution and the school and the school can use its funding to subsidise the trainee’s salary and/or training. There will no longer be a “supernumerary” requirement, as there is with the current GTP.
  • For School Direct (fee-paying) the trainee is deemed to be a student of higher education for the period of training, just like a PGCE student, and is not employed by the school. He/she will have access to the usual student support (e.g. a student loan) and may receive a bursary for the duration of his/her training (dependent upon classification of degree and/or subject).

If I train a School Direct (Salaried) trainee, will my school be required to employ the trainee once he/she qualifies?

The Government’s Training Our Next Generation of Outstanding Teachers: Implementation Plan (November 2011) states that “once the trainee has completed training and gained qualified teacher status, the school will be expected to employ the trainee.” However, the TA has stated that “expectation” does not mean “obligation”.

I am interested in the possibility of School Direct trainee/trainees for 2016-17.  What should I do next?

We recommend that you speak to James Dyke at Catalyst, who will be pleased to discuss this with you. We would also recommend that you register your interest in applying for School Direct places on The Teaching Agency website; this will enable you to receive invaluable updates and newsletters directly from the TA.

I have a Teaching Assistant/employee who has expressed an interest in training to teach.  How should I advise him/her?

We recommend that he/she looks at the ITT section of our website in order to find out more, including entry requirements. The TA website is also a useful source of information.

How can I find out more about the funding of the salaried part of School Direct Salaried?

We recommend that you speak to James Dyke at Catalyst, who will be pleased to discuss this with you.

Useful Links

The UCAS Application System

The University of Hertfordshire

The Student Loan Company

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