Published by: TES

Published on: 8th April 2020

Providers call to be allowed to offer jobs to trainees that are conditional on performance with pupils.

Teacher trainers are urging the government to allow them to make offers “conditional on school experience”, as they fear disruption to the application process means they may otherwise struggle to get “the right people in front of our children”.

Providers should be allowed to make a conditional offer “based on seeing [the applicant] with children at the very earliest opportunity”, as they will be unable to carry out normal recruitment processes while social distancing measures are in place, a teacher training leader has said.

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (Nasbtt), said providers can make offers with strings attached in some circumstances, but are prevented from granting a place conditional on school experience.

Nasbtt is therefore asking the Department for Education (DfE) to allow more flexibility with the application process for the 2020-21 recruitment drive.

Ms Hollis told Tes: “Safer recruitment practice would always have you seeing them with children, because you’ll want to see their interactions with children, and also when you’re interviewing people face-to-face there’s a sense – you get the body language, if you’re asking difficult questions you get a real sense of who they are.

“And that is a concern – that we’re not going to be able to do that, in terms of getting the right people in front of our children.

“So we’re pushing quite hard to be allowed to make conditions of offer, so a conditional offer based on seeing you with children are the very earliest opportunity, if that’s possible.

“We’ve not had confirmation that we can definitely do that, but that’s what we’d like to see.”

She added: “We are able to make conditional offers but we are prevented from making an offer conditional on school experience and providers are worried that this would fall into that category.”

Ms Hollis said that headteachers may also struggle with normal recruitment processes – involving both newly qualified teachers and other staff – as “a DBS check only tells you so much”.

She said: “To recruit cold without seeing somebody interacting with children, without having met them face-to-face…it’s so important to get it right.

“You do really need to know that they’re the right fit for your school, the right fit for your children, and so there are anxieties around that.

“And that’s got to be weighed up with the fact that we are going to need teachers more than ever. The teaching workforce is going to be impacted – how much, we don’t know.

“We just don’t know what the teaching workforce is going to look like. So we desperately need more teachers.

“That message really needs to go out there: ‘Please apply; we will find a way; we will train you; we desperately need you; our children need you, now more than ever’.

“But there’s naturally some anxiety around getting that right.”

The DfE has been approached for comment.

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