Primary schools in disadvantaged areas with vacancies can recruit newly qualified teachers (NQTs) through a number of routes. Each has different costs and benefits associated with it. This study aimed to compare the outcomes for pupils taught by NQTs from different training routes. These were university-based routes such as PGCE, school-routes such as Schools Direct, and the Teach First programme.
Why did we fund it?
There is little research undertaken on whether pupil outcomes vary when their teachers have been trained through different schemes. This quasi-experimental design aimed to provide evidence useful for both schools when making decisions about how to recruit new teachers, and for policy makers and funders.
How did we evaluate it?
Originally the project was planned to be a randomised controlled trial (RCT) of Teach First training for primary school teachers compared with other routes of initial teacher training (ITT), however there were concerns about the feasibility of randomly allocating teachers to schools and classes (thereby taking the decision away from the headteacher). A scoping study confirmed that schools would not comply with an RCT. A quasi-experimental design (QED) was therefore proposed, and NFER were commissioned to conduct an effectiveness study aiming to assess the outcomes in the real-world using a matched design.
NFER planned to recruit 120 primary schools with Teach First teachers in Key Stage 2, and then recruit a matched sample of statistically similar primary schools with NQTs trained through either a university-based route such as PGCE, or a school-route such as Schools Direct. The classes taught by the NQT trainee teachers would have undertaken two maths assessments, at the start and end of the academic year. All schools involved would have met Teach First’s eligibility criteria for schools in disadvantaged areas
NFER planned to also undertake qualitative research with teachers, schools and trainers from the three routes, and an analysis of the costs of each. Additional analyses would have included an examination of outcomes while controlling for teacher characteristics
There were two attempts at recruitment to the QED design. The first attempt took place in spring 2019, however the study did not recruit enough schools to progress. The second attempt at recruitment in 2019/20 was successful for the Teach First arm of the trial, however the covid-19 lockdown and school closures meant that the other arms could not be recruited for
Furthermore, the disruption to the teacher training received by that cohort (those who did Initial Teacher Training in 19/20 and would be an NQT in 20/21) due to the Covid-19 lockdown and school closures resulted in the training being fundamentally different to the planned provision. In light of this, it was decided that the project would not be evaluating teacher training under usual circumstances and therefore the findings would be of extremely limited application
The EEF therefore decided to cancel the study. There are no future plans to resume this particular study, however the EEF remains interested in conducting more research in the area of teacher training
When will the evaluation report be due?
Because the decision was made to discontinue this study due to disruption related to Covid-19, no evaluation report will be published. However, the evaluation team produced a report on lessons learned from the study to inform any future related research into teacher training, which can be found here.