Yesterday The Guardian newspaper published some figures about recruitment to teacher training for this September. I am not sure whether this was based upon a leak or data provided by the DfE BUT given solely to The Guardian newspaper as I have not been able to locate the figures anywhere on the DfE web site. Either way the numbers, as they appeared in the newspaper, are a challenge to interpret.

Take the total shown as accepted for Physics, the subject of a recent post on this blog. According to The Guardian some 560 people have been accepted to study as Physics teachers. This it is claimed fills 57% of the target of 990 places. Eagle eyed readers will already be wondering about the use of the term target as the DfE has recently been using the alternative word ‘allocation’ to account for the number of training places available. Anyway, leaving that matter aside, according to the Statistical Bulletin published by the DfE on the 13^{th} August, there were 1,143 Physics places issued to providers. That’s 153 more than the number quoted in The Guardian. So is the real number 560 of 1,143? This would be 49% filled, not 57% as quoted in the paper. Either way it is a big fall from the 925 Physics and Physics with Mathematics entrants recorded in the ITT census last November.

There are similar issues with the numbers quoted in other subjects. Mathematics is cited as having 1,910 accepted candidates for 2,460 places when the DfE Statistical Bulletin showed 3,054 places or 2,929 if undergraduate numbers are excluded. Last November, 2,635 trainees were recruited, so we have apparently lost 700 possible Mathematics teachers in one year; that’s about one for every five schools.

The claim that 90% of secondary places have been filled is dubious in the extreme. I am very curious that Chemistry apparently has a bumper crop of applicants as that is not what I am hearing. Even in primary, where there should be no issue in filling places, word is reaching me of anxiety in some quarters about the outcome of the pre-entry tests. It is to be hoped that the Select Committee will be able to sort the numbers issue out on Wednesday when they quiz the Minister. But, the definitive point of reference will be the ITT Census in November. By then we will also know how enthusiastic schools are about taking up all the places in School Direct for 2014.

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