Yesterday this blog reported on the ITT census for 2014. Most of the trainees counted in the figures will be looking for teaching posts starting work in September 2015. The fact that there are around 1,300 fewer secondary trainees this autumn than last year is certainly an alarming statistic. However, many subjects are yet to reach the sort of shortages noted at the end of the last century when a severe staffing crisis developed.
If we compare this year with recruitment into training in 1998/99, then that year only 52% of places for maths trainees were filled, compared with 88% this year. Similarly, in English, 89% of places were filled in 1998/99, compared with 122% this year, although the actual number of places on offer was probably less this year, so that might have made a difference to the percentages. Certainly, recruiting fewer than 1,700 trainee English teachers this year is unlikely to be enough to satisfy the demand for such teachers across England.
At least two subjects fared worse this year than in 1998/99: Religious Education filled 81% of places in 1998/98 compared with 71% this year and in music it was 81% this year compared with 82% in the earlier year. Changes in subject titles mean that direct comparisons aren’t possible for all subjects over time, but the fact is that schools cannot afford another poor recruitment year for trainees in 2014/15 if a real crisis of the level not seen since the early 2000s is not to re-occur.
Clearly, the bursaries and scholarships are helping keep up recruitment in some subjects, but once again the government taking over paying the fees for all graduate trainees would be a simple and clear message to all that there is no extra student debt burden as a result of training to be a teacher through any postgraduate route. Looking to create apprenticeships in subjects like Physics where studying for a degree requires ‘A’ level grades not achieved by some candidates might open a new route into the profession.
As a support to trainees and schools during the recruitment round I have set up a free service at www.teachvac.co.uk to allow schools to notify vacancies suitable for NQTs and for trainees to identify where they want to teach. Trainees will receive details of vacancies as they arise and schools will be kept informed of the size of the potential applicant pool and how it is reducing. The DfE suggest that 50% of main scale posts are taken by NQTs and the figure may be higher in the key January to June recruitment period. Where the 450 D&T trainees and 373 music trainees want to work may be crucial and by registering with TeachVac we will keep schools informed.
Trainees have the added advantage of a newsletter offering advice on recruitment. The December newsletter, out next week, offers trainees advice about interviews following on from the advice n how to fill in an application form in the November edition.
2015 is going to be a challenging year for schools and I hope to make it bit less stressful for heads and for trainees.