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Scouting for teachers: DfE’s latest recruitment plan

Scouts will develop “teaching skills” as part of attaining their badges under a new government scheme to boost flagging recruitment by “inspiring the next generation of teachers”.

The Scout Association has won a contract worth up to £129,000 over three years to provide 40,000 ‘explorers’ – those aged 14 to 18-years-old – with the “skills and knowledge they need to consider pursuing a career in teaching”. 

The Department for Education will work with the Scouts to “create age-appropriate activities that inspire young people to consider a career in teaching by linking to relevant badges and awards”.

The department clarified there are currently no plans for a teaching badge.

The contact will also include engaging with the organisation’s 120,000 adult volunteers to “raise awareness of teaching as a potential career choice”.

‘Elevate teaching status’

The policy is part of the department’s Get into Teaching “candidate pipeline strategy” which aims to “elevate the status” of the profession and “drive motivation and relevancy for new audiences who have not yet considered it as a career”.

Secondary school teacher recruitment targets have been missed for ten of the past 11 years. Just 50 per cent of the required secondary teachers were recruited last year.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said it “seems rather bizarre to invest public funds in niche projects like this, which are unlikely to have any real impact”.

While at the same time, DfE has cut funding for “tried and tested” schemes such as subject knowledge enhancement and international relocation grants, he added.

But a DfE spokesperson said the Scouts scheme will “raise awareness of teaching as a potential career choice for young people, helping to build a pipeline of future candidates for Initial Teacher Training.”

“Values such as leadership, teamwork and citizenship, which are key to nurturing high-quality teachers, directly tie into the Scout’s mission to support young people in their personal development and help them make a positive contribution to society.”

Badges ‘linked’ to recruitment aims

Launching in September, the scheme pledges the “creation of hands-on, fun, and engaging activities based around developing teaching skills, whilst contributing to the existing Scouting programme”. 

The Scouts will create four branded activities aimed at Explorers for each year. This will link “badges and higher awards to the ambitions of the Get into Teaching Service”.

Key skills developed through scouting include leadership, confidence, teamwork and resilience, which are all “attributes that make a good teacher”, the contract states. 

The plan is to reach 40,000 youngsters.

Meanwhile, “potential careers changers” will also be reached through “weekly face-to-face activities” focused on issues such as citizenship and employability. 

This will also include “specific messaging” from the DfE to be shared in monthly emails to the Scouts’ 126,000 adult volunteers.

The Scouts will also create support and guidance materials for those running the programme and “aim to improve the consideration and understanding of teaching careers and transferable skills within their networks through audience surveys and tracking”.

It will also share social media posts about the partnership and a blog which DfE said could include a “case study of a young leader who is also a teacher”.

The initial one-year contract is worth a maximum of £43,000, but can be extended for up to a further two years subject to “budget availability”.

A Scouts spokesperson said is “thrilled” to be involved, adding: “We will help Scouts recognise how the skills acquired in Scouts can serve as pathways to a teaching career.”

Push to boost teacher ‘pipeline’

As well as boosting applicants, the Get into Teaching “pipeline strategy” aims to raise awareness of how to apply to become a teacher and “engagement” with its teacher adviser service.

The “current priority is to promote teaching through partnerships to a younger audience, with a focus on new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and modern foreign languages (MFL) partners to drive interest where recruitment is most challenging”.

Latest estimates suggest just a quarter of the required physics teachers will be recruited this year. For MFL, around half of the teachers needed are expected to be recruited.

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