Number of trainee teachers falls short

Provisional recruitment to initial teacher training programmes in England in the academic year 2017 to 2018 figures released indicating shortfall of teachers

The government has released information on recruitment to initial teacher training (ITT) programmes, including a forecast of the number of trainees expected to start training later in the academic year.

According to the government report, teacher-training targets have been missed in all subjects except PE, history and primary teaching.

Overall, the number of people starting teacher training in 2017 has risen; increasing from 26,750 new entrants to postgraduate ITT training last year to 27,895 this year (2017-18).

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said, “Government’s failure to be more joined up in its thinking means that it’s not recruiting the teachers we need. Without changes to education policies, government will fail to meet its own targets of raising education standards, or increasing Britain’s productivity; and pupils’ learning will suffer too.

“Today’s ITT census figures make for sobering reading, with only two out of the 18 postgraduate secondary routes reaching their targets, in PE and History.  With the increase of pupils numbers at secondary level, and the resulting need for more teachers there, this is an incredibly worrying, if not surprising, outcome for those in secondary schools.

“We hope that these figures will make government take a hard look at their policy around the EBacc; the enforced split between EBacc and non-EBacc has made a big mess of teacher supply.  Recruitment for secondary EBacc subjects is only 84% of the government’s target, while non-EBacc subjects are an even more alarming 69%.

“EBacc dogma and rising pupil numbers mean that far more teachers are needed for EBacc subjects, yet the government have still failed to make the profession more attractive by achieving significant reductions in teachers’ workload or reversing real-term pay cuts.  Meanwhile, policy is marginalising non-EBacc subjects, including some that would underpin its push towards new vocational qualifications, like Design and Technology, and this has led to fewer prospective teachers applying.

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“With Brexit looming ever nearer and a growing skills crisis, the continued failure to recruit the required number of teachers to science subjects like Physics and Biology grows ever more glaring.

“The key challenge for the Government has to be make teaching more attractive. This requires a far more serious and joined up approach to tackling workload. It also means addressing the issue of teachers’ pay which has fallen steadily behind other graduate professions. Government needs a serious and coherent plan for teacher recruitment, and it must also review the impact of policies like EBacc, on recruitment and retention.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said, “It is deeply concerning to see that the government target for recruiting secondary school trainee teachers has been significantly missed. It is the fifth successive year that secondary trainee recruitment has failed to match the identified need, and on this occasion only 80% of the target has been achieved – a shortfall of 3,731 new entrants. Out of 15 subjects, only two have enough new recruits.

“We simply cannot go on like this. There are severe teacher shortages in many subjects and in many areas of the country, and this is having a real and detrimental impact on the quality of education that we able to provide to our young people.

“It is imperative that we better incentivise teaching as a career, not least through a cost-of-living pay increase which addresses the significant real-terms decline in teaching salaries and which is fully funded by the government.

“We also need to work together with the government to reduce teacher workload and put the joy back into teaching.”

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