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In academic year 2022/23 around 29,000 individuals entered ITT in England through several different routes. Although they vary in other ways, key distinctions between the different ITT routes are whether they are school-centred or higher education led, and whether the trainee pays tuition fees or receives a salary. All ITT courses include time spent teaching in at least two schools and lead to an award of qualified teacher status (QTS).

All teacher trainees, regardless of route, are required to meet a number of minimum standards. They must, for example, hold GCSEs in English and Maths (and science for enrolment on primary ITT) at grade C / grade 4 or higher.

The system of financial support for teacher trainees is complex. Broadly, eligible undergraduate and postgraduate trainees on non-salaried routes can apply for funding under the standard undergraduate student support system. In addition, a range of bursaries and scholarships are available for postgraduates, depending on the subject they are training in and the class of their first degree. Since 2018/19, the Department for Education (DfE) has also been using early career payments as a means of encouraging teacher retention. Payments are available to certain teachers starting their ITT in the 2018/19, 2019/20 or 2020/21 academic years.

In January 2021, the Department for Education appointed an expert group to conduct a review of the Initial Teacher Training market. The ITT market review report was published in July 2021. Its key recommendation was for revised standards and accreditation for ITT. The subsequent reaccreditation of providers has proved controversial, with a significant number of providers to no longer be accredited as of September 2024.

A separate Library Briefing, Teacher recruitment and retention in England, provides information on teacher supply and retention more generally.

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