ITT recruitment “improving”, according to NASBTT survey, as providers’ share their wish list ahead of general election

Over a third of ITT providers are experiencing stronger recruitment at this stage of the year compared to last year, according to survey findings published today by the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT).


In her opening address at the NASBTT Annual Conference 2023, Executive Director Emma Hollis highlighted a “positively improving recruitment picture” for ITT providers, and clear direction from NASBTT members on initiatives which will make a difference going forward.


The survey, undertaken by NASBTT in October and November, drew responses from 102 ITT providers on ITT recruitment, the proposed DfE recruitment and retention strategy refresh, and Labour Party education proposals. It found that:


  • 35% of respondents report that ITT recruitment is better at this stage of the year compared to last year. A further 58% of respondents say it is about the same, and only 7% worse.


  • Three quarters of respondents (75%) welcome the proposed refresh of the DfE’s recruitment and retention strategy – and when asked what will make the biggest difference to that strategy, bursaries upon application and tackling public perceptions about teaching account for over half of responses.


  • Bursaries upon application (30)
  • Tackling public perceptions about teaching (23)
  • Student fees/loan forgiveness after 10 years (11)
  • Commitment to flexible working in profession (9)
  • Starting salary (6)       
  • ECF retention payments (3)
  • Nothing, just let all current initiatives play out (0)
  • Other (20)


  • NASBTT members were asked to rate on a scale of 0-5 how supportive they are, in principle, of Labour’s proposals in their education manifesto. The review of bursaries came out on top at an average of 4.75 out of 5.


  • 4.75 / 5: Review bursaries to ensure the £181 million a year the Government spends on incentivising people into teaching is being best used to attract and critically to retrain teaching staff.
  • 4.59 / 5: Work with schools to deliver a ‘Teacher Training Entitlement’, including backfilling roles so that teachers at every stage of their career can be released for training, and ensuring guidance is available on evidence-based, high-quality professional development.
  • 4.51 / 5: Introduce a requirement for all new teachers coming into schools to hold or be working towards QTS, as part of the guarantee that every child will be taught by a qualified professional.
  • 4.48 / 5: Recruit over 6,500 new teachers to fill vacancies and skills gaps across the profession.
  • 4.26 / 5: Introduce a new mentoring framework for new headteachers and school leaders, working with the profession to spread best practice and ensure that new headteachers are supported during their first years on the job.
  • 4.11 / 5: Introduce a new ECF retention payment upon completion of the updated Framework recognising the professional development staff have undertaken.
  • 4.03 / 5: Revise delivery of the ECF, maintaining the grounding in evidence, to ensure the highest standards of professional development for new teachers.
  • 3.81 / 5: Restructure teacher retention payments into one payment scale incorporating different factors such as subject and geography, based on evidence showing incentive payments are an effective means of retaining teachers with knowledge and expertise.


  • Members were also invited to suggest what was missing from those proposals from an ITT perspective. Two overarching themes emerged:


  1. Ensuring that ALL candidates can afford to train as a teacher in the first place.


Specific suggestions include:

  • Reduce tuition fees for all trainees.
  • Explore fee grants during training year.
  • Introduce bursaries for primary trainees.
  • Respond to cost-of-living increases.
  • Plan to increase diversity of applicants.


  1. Demonstrating greater support for the sector (in general), including requiring or incentivising schools to engage in ITT.


Specific suggestions include:

  • Incorporate school engagement in ITT into the Ofsted Inspection Framework.
  • Fund schools to support mentoring and engagement in ITT.
  • Specifically increase support for experienced teachers taking on mentoring roles.
  • Introduce retention payments for mentors.
  • Prioritise workload and work-life balance.


“We all recognise the need, of course, to recruit more teachers but the question is ‘how’ this will be done longer term,” Emma said. “A common view is this must be a part of a vision for increasing the competitiveness of the teaching profession via pay and other financial incentives, and tackling public perceptions about teaching and the work of a teacher. We also need to factor in all-encompassing issues on the funding of the profession, that teachers are having to ‘do more with ‘less’, and schools being required to run at a deficit model all the time. With the recent party conferences it is easy to become distracted by headlines and distant policy pledges which may impact on ITT and the wider education sector and the hard working profession tasked with implementation, but we will be feeding this survey insight and our members’ detailed suggestions into policy discussions.”


In a wide-ranging speech, Emma also called for the introduction of a funded senior leadership team role of Teacher Professional Development Lead in every school, a new ECF retention payment being distributed over Years 3, 4 and 5 on the pay progression scale as part of an annual increase to encourage retention over a longer period, and a specialist ECF across all sciences up to A Level to address subject teacher shortages. She also tabled the idea of government-funded student loan forgiveness for all teachers working in state schools up to a certain number of years, but warned that “there is a need for a long-term vision for the education sector, and a process for getting there, and this is something that we would argue should remain regardless of who is leading the country.”


The NASBTT Annual Conference, which this year is titled Mind the Gap, is running today and tomorrow. Speakers include the DfE, Foundation for Education Development, nasen, National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), Ofsted, Teacher Development Trust and a number of SCITTs, HEIs, and Teaching School Hubs.


Over 150 delegates are hearing viewpoints on the future for the ITT sector following the market review, teacher recruitment and retention policy, Ofsted inspections, Core Content Framework and Early Career Framework review, and partnership working. There is also extensive knowledge share and insight on specific areas such as SEND, Intensive Training and Practice, AI and the impact on ITT, mentoring and flexible working.