Number of trainee teachers falls

Subjects - Chemistry

A drop in the number of trainee teachers has sparked fears that it may soon become even more difficult to recruit teachers.

The most recent figures show a 7 per cent drop in the number of people accepted onto teacher training courses in the last year.

Headteachers have said that the drop in training rates will only worsen the current recruitment crisis.

In response, the Department of Education has said that there are currently more teachers in England than at any other time in history.

They also said that they plan to invest £1.3bn in recruitment over this Parliament, and that they were planning a number of schemes in order to keep teachers in their jobs, particularly in regions that have a poor teacher retention rates.

As a result of the high turnover rates in the profession, 30,000 new recruits are needed each year in order to meet requirements.

Usually, the vast majority of new recruits comes from these trainees.

However, only 26,000 were accepted on to teacher training courses for 2016-2017.

This means then, that the UK faces the fifth consecutive year in which governmental targets have been missed.

Conversely, in Wales there was a 2 per cent rise in applicants placed on to courses over the same period.

Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There are severe teacher shortages in schools across the country, particularly in maths and science.

“Schools have to rely upon supply staff and non-specialists to teach many classes.”

Mr Trobe also urged the government to treat the issue as a matter of urgency, and to act quickly to make teaching more attractive.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said the figures were deeply worrying, but hardly surprising.

She blamed what she perceived as the government’s continued failure to address the issues that had been causing teacher shortages in recent years.

“Excessive teacher workloads continue to drive down retention rates, salaries are falling behind those of other graduate professions and funding cuts are reducing what schools can provide for children,” she said.

“The government must tackle the workload and salary levels for classroom teachers as a key priority, investing in school funding and national pay.”

Professor John Howson, a teacher recruitment expert who runs a free teacher vacancy service for schools, said: “The Ministry of Defence had managed to persuade the Treasury that officers training at Sandhurst could have a salary – it’s about time trainee teachers had a salary too.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh said the recruitment crisis was of the government’s making.

“Half baked schemes to desperately lure people into teaching do not and cannot compensate for the demoralisation of existing staff.

“An unprecedented number of teachers are exiting the profession unable to withstand bureaucratic overload and constant insults to their professionalism from meddling ministers.”