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Market research on online applicant selection tools for UK teacher education

September 2020

In July and August Liz Hooper from the Teacher Success carried out a market research project to explore the demand for online tools to measure the ‘soft’ skills (non-academic attributes) of initial teacher education (ITE) candidates. The research explored how the soft skills of applicants were currently measured, and also asked about the pressing issues ITE programmes are facing in the selection process.

 To start, an email was sent to all members of Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET) and the National Association of School-Based Teacher Training (NASBTT) asking them to complete a short on-line survey.  This was then followed up with some one-to-one interviews with a selection of institutions which covered all areas of UK teaching training including:

  • School-based training through SCITT and School Direct programs
  • University-based undergraduate and PGCE courses
  • All stages including early years, primary and secondary

Although most institutions expressed some satisfaction with their current selection processes, almost all institutions stated that they were looking to reduce both the time spent on trainee Teacher Succession and the costs incurred, with about two-thirds interested in learning more about evidence-supported selection methods that could streamline their process.

The follow-up interviews were especially revealing about the impact Covid 19 was having on the selection process. Covid restrictions have had a significant impact on selection activities with on-line interviews replacing face-to-face interview days. A key concern was ensuring that there was a consistency across the process and that quality assurance criteria were met.

Some interviewees were worried about what recruitment would look like for the 2021 intake.  They predicted a ‘recruitment paradox’ where face-to-face interviews would be restricted, but there would be more applicants due to a potential economic downturn. These institutions were actively thinking about ways to streamline their selection process to cope with this increase in demand for teacher training places. 

So is there a demand for on-line, evidence-supported selection tools?  Most of the participants in the interviews expressed an interest in online situational judgment tests, called T-Screen, offered by the Teacher Success because they are research-supported selection tools contextualised for education settings. Participants were interested in using T-Screen to identify the best candidates to invite to face-to-face interviews. Other participants suggested they would be useful in providing consistency across the selection process and would deliver an additional validation measure to support face-to-face interviews. Some interviewees suggested that SJTs had the potential to help applicants begin thinking about the way in which teaching professionals respond to different situations. In sum, online selection tools may play a fundamental role in improving Teacher Succession processes in UK ITE programmes. 

If you would like to contribute your views to this market research or learn more about T- Screen or other tools, please contact us.