Following on from yesterday’s post about current levels of recruitment into teacher training among graduates, I have been delving further into the data. One interesting aspect is the data provided about the age of applicants. Overall, the number of applicants increased from some 23,000 to almost 44,000; an increase of around 80% between January and mid-August. However, the increase among younger candidates has been somewhat smaller at just 42% for the youngest group of new graduates; up from around four and a half thousand in January to some six and a half thousand in mid-August. By contrast, the increase in applications from potential trainees in their thirties has been from just over three thousand to more than six and a half thousand; an increase of more than 100%. While it is good to have a mix of ages entering the profession, those that join as teachers in their 30s, and especially their late 30s, have traditionally struggled to have their previous work experience recognised and to progress in their new career, although there have been some notable exceptions to this rule.
So why has this lack of young recruits come about? Could it be that the new fee levels are something of a deterrent? After all, older entrants may have paid off their previous student debts, and be prepared to take on one year of new debt as the cost of changing careers whereas new graduates are looking forward to a fourth year of debt that may seem less attractive than a salary. As a result, the School Direct Salaried route looks a bit like a perverse incentive, aimed as it is at the career changer with at least three years of work experience. However since there have been only 2,700 of these recruited among the potential 29,000 graduate entrants they clearly aren’t making a huge difference to the total.
At present, we don’t know whether older applicants are being discriminated against in terms of the numbers being made offers. However, they are more likely to have a stake in the community and want to teach close to where they train. From that respect, it is interesting that London has attracted the largest number of applicants of ant region in England; over eight and a half thousand, compared with six thousand each in the South East and North West regions. The lack of any London supplement in funding doesn’t seem to be putting off applicants from applying to train with providers in the capital. It would be helpful to know more about the age profile of those applying in the different regions, but that will have to wait until the annual report is published by UCAS, probably next year.
Before then, I hope that there will have been a review of the first year of the new application system. It had an inauspicious start last November, and I don’t think offering three choices through the Apply 1 route right up to August helps either candidates or providers fill the places still available just before courses start. I would add the number of training places and the number still available to the information provided to candidates, as the DfE did last year when they managed the School Direct application site.
Perhaps the Carter Review Team can have a think about the application process or UCET, NASBITT, the professional associations and the NCTL can get together with the DfE and have a frank discussion about how we can best recruit candidates into training for 2015.