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School Direct: guidance for lead schools
How to request and manage school-led initial teacher training (ITT) places for School Direct lead schools.
School Direct is a school-led initial teacher training (ITT) scheme. It is run by a partnership between a lead school, other schools and an accredited teacher training provider.
Training places are allocated to the lead school on behalf of the partnership, usually for 1 year. The lead school has overall responsibility for requesting places from the National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) and for ensuring that the criteria for School Direct are met.
This information is for lead schools.
Types of training places and funding
There are 2 types of School Direct training places available.
School Direct (tuition fee) places
These places are open to all graduates and are funded by tuition fees paid by the trainee. Trainees may be eligible for a training bursary or scholarship.
School Direct (salaried) places
These places are aimed mainly at graduates with 3 or more years’ work experience. However, schools can decide to accept applications from people with less work experience to attract high quality candidates in hard to fill subjects. Prospective candidates are expected to be career changers who can bring valuable skills and experience to the teaching profession. This experience does not have to be from an educational setting. For example, experience could have been gained in the financial, engineering or manufacturing sectors.
Trainees are employed as an unqualified teacher. NCTL provides funding to lead schools to cover training costs and subsidise the trainee salaries.
Both routes carry the award of qualified teacher status (QTS).
When you are deciding on the number and type of places to request, you should consider:
- any previous School Direct recruitment you have undertaken and future employment needs for your school partnership
- what training you want to provide for your future teachers, including whether you offer a postgraduate certificate in education (PGCE) or Master’s-level credits in addition to QTS
- how much you want your school partnership to deliver and which accredited provider or providers can best deliver the training you require
You should also take a look at the School Direct: plan your programme. This publication contains a set of questions for your school partnership to consider as well as questions to ask training providers.
Requesting and receiving places
For 2015 to 2016 there was a single bidding window for all ITT allocation requests (this includes provider and School Direct places). This closed on Thursday 3 July 2014. If you are interested in being involved in initial teacher training in 2015 to 2016, please contact an existing School Direct lead school or an ITT provider.
Find out about initial teacher training places for 2016 to 2017.
Formal partnership agreement
You need to set up a formal partnership agreement with your partner schools and ITT provider. The partnership agreement should specify:
- the roles and responsibilities of each partner
- whether you will award PGCE as well as QTS
- how funding will be distributed between the lead school, partner schools and ITT provider and how it would be recovered by NCTL if trainees withdraw or complete early
- the tuition fee to be charged for School Direct (tuition) places, what this includes, and how and when fees will be shared between the lead school and ITT provider
- whether the training fees for School Direct (salaried) places will just cover the cost of training to achieve QTS and whether trainees will be expected to pay for any further academic qualifications, such as PGCE
- how administration costs are covered
- how recruitment and selection decisions will be made and who is responsible for communicating with applicants
- which parts of the training schools will provide and which parts the ITT provider should cover
- the schools in which training will take place
- who is responsible for fulfilling NCTL data requirements (see the next section on recruiting trainees for more on this)
All initial teacher training places – including for School Direct – are advertised through a single application system, operated by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). You will manage your training places through this system and you must agree who will handle the process for applications.
Before applications open on UCAS Teacher Training, you should agree your overall approach with your partner schools and ITT provider so that your recruitment process is open and fair and you have a clear and effective marketing strategy. You should consider:
- what type of candidates you wish to target and the minimum entry requirements – for example, if you are accepting applications from candidates with less than 3 years’ work experience for School Direct (salaried places) in hard to fill subjects
- how you will attract high-quality candidates – for example, using your own website, working with your ITT provider, making the most of any local marketing opportunities or by offering the School Experience Programme
- how you will fulfill the expectation of employment after trainees have qualified
- what national marketing opportunities you can take advantage of – for example NCTL-run Train to Teach and Premier Plus events
- what salary levels you will offer for any School Direct (salaried) places – for maintained schools, this should be at least point 1 of the unqualified teacher pay scale and for academies and free schools, whatever you agree to set (which must be advertised)
- whether to offer subject knowledge enhancement courses to trainees – these can be made available (with funding from us) in hard to fill subjects such as maths, physics and computing to help potential trainees gain the depth of subject knowledge required prior to starting training
- what career opportunities and post-ITT training your partnership can offer to attract the best candidates
You should also take a look at our marketing resource bank. This contains lots of useful information and practical resources to help you run a successful recruitment campaign.
Candidates must meet the ITT eligibility criteria as well as the requirements for the relevant School Direct place.
When considering making an offer, please refer to the UCAS Teacher Training guidance.
School Direct (tuition fee) places
These places are funded by the trainee, either directly or with a student loan from the Student Loan Company. ITT providers will receive the tuition fee from the Student Loan Company on your behalf. Any training bursary or scholarship that the candidate is eligible for is funded by NCTL and received by the provider.
School Direct (salaried) places
These trainees are employed as an unqualified teacher. Training and salary grants are paid by NCTL to the lead school in monthly instalments when training commences at the beginning of the autumn term.
A £2,000 incentive payment is also available for schools recruiting and employing eligible graduate service leavers. This payment is funded directly by NCTL as part of the Troops to Teachers programme. Lead schools must inform us of any eligible trainees to receive payment.
School Direct funding for academic year 2015 to 2016
On 25 September 2014 the Department for Education announced the 2015 to 2016 financial incentives for postgraduate teacher training. The overall principle of the bursary incentives have not changed, however there have been some changes to the detail of those incentives. These include:
- increases to bursaries for trainees with a first in physics, maths, chemistry, computing and languages – from £20k to £25k. Trainees with a 2:1 in physics also receive the same increased bursary
- increases to bursaries for biology, geography, design and technology, music
- new bursary introduced for trainees in RE – £9k for a first, £4k for a 2:1
- bursaries for trainees on primary maths specialist courses extended to trainees on primary maths specialism courses, with minor changes
- removal of uplift to bursaries for trainees who spend more than 50% of their time in a school with more than 35% free school meals (FSM)
- removal of the discretionary uplift, which gave teacher training providers and School Direct lead schools discretion to increase the bursary for trainees
Changes to School Direct (salaried):
- additional grant funding of £6k available to schools to support salaries of £21k nationally and £25k in inner London on School Direct (salaried) for trainees in maths, physics or computing
- to reflect bursary changes, the primary maths specialist and specialism grant has increased from £16k to £19k nationally, and grant funding of £14k nationally has been introduced for RE
- the removal of the 10% grant uplift for trainees who spend more 50% of their time in a school with more than 35% FSM has been removed
More information and guidance on bursaries and grants for the 2015 to 2016 academic year can be found in the School Direct funding manual: academic year 2015 to 2016.
Funding information for academic year 2014 to 2015 can be found on the Funding: initial teacher training (ITT), academic year 2014 to 2015 and in the School Direct: operations manual – academic year 2014 to 2015.
School Direct enables you to develop a tailored training programme, customised to suit the needs of your school and your trainees. With trainees in school from day one, working alongside your existing team, it’s a great opportunity for them to gain insight into life as a teacher and to be supported by those already doing the job.
As part of the partnership agreement with your ITT provider you should decide which elements of the training are going to be provided by the lead school, partner schools and your chosen provider. This should include any fixed locations or days, for example, trainees are always in school on a Monday. You should also think about the best use of expertise available across the school partners and from your ITT provider. For example, you may choose to involve outstanding teachers to provide subject knowledge training and your provider for assessment and quality assurance. You will need to ensure you have the capacity to deliver the aspects of training that you will take on.
There is an expectation that trainees will be employed as newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in your school partnership once they are qualified. In determining how many School Direct places to request, you should bear this in mind.
Trainees can be employed within an individual school or group of schools in which they have been trained.
Trainees do not need to be employed in addition to your regular teaching staff numbers; they can be employed in an established post provided there are no risks to the quality of their training.
Audit and evaluation
Lead schools and ITT providers are responsible for ensuring that the funding being received is spent for the purposes intended and providing independently audited accounts each year.
Take a look at previous online seminars to help you run your School Direct programme.
Find out more
Our School Direct hub is open to anyone involved in School Direct. It’s a place to share experiences, resources and tips. You will need to register to access the community through the Knowledge Hub.
Information for schools participating in training which started in September 2014
Published: 14 March 2014
Updated: 9 July 2015
- Added online seminar School Direct (salaried): is your provision up to scratch?
- Added link to UCAS Teacher Training guidance. Added further clarification in Employment section.
- First published.