Earlier today the DfE published the figures for the numbers of new teachers that started training in 2014. The Statistical First Release SFR 48/2014 contains much more information than in previous years, but even so cannot disguise the fact that recruitment has suffered another disappointing year.
In the past three years, overall recruitment numbers when matched against the predicted level of need for trainees from the Teacher Supply Model managed by DfE statisticians was 99% in 2012/13; 95% in 2013/14 and 92% this year in 2014/15. In total, that works out at a shortfall of 5,860 trainee teachers across the three years, or about one per cent of the workforce if you include independent schools that rely upon qualified teachers. However, if you take out the over-recruitment in subjects such as history and PE, the shortfall in numbers are somewhat larger in some subjects. For instance, in design and technology more than whole cohort has been lost over just the past two years. Now although this subject isn’t seen as a core it does have an important role to play in generating interest in a whole range of careers vital to the economy from engineering to catering and fashion.
Possibly even more alarming than the under-recruitment in secondary subjects is the seven per cent shortfall in recruitment to primary courses. Only some 19,213 trainees have started primary courses, although fortunately 14,000 of these are one one-year programme and only 5,400 on undergraduate programmes that won’t feed through to the labour market until 2017. With the rapid rise in the primary school population we can ill afford a teacher shortage in the primary phase.
The DfE figures show that while higher education filled 90% of allocated places, School Direct overall filled only 61% of allocated places with the training route (fee based) recruiting only 57% of its target compared with 71% for the salaried route. (Table 1 SFR 48/2014). SCITTS managed to fill 79% of their places. Hopefully, this does not mean viable potential trainees have been denied a place on a teacher preparation course in a school because the entry bar has been set at an inappropriate level.
Clearly, this under-recruitment cannot be allowed to continue and the government will now have to face the fact that the main recruitment season for vacancies in September 2015 will coincide with the general election. Head teachers are already complaining of recruitment problems and the chorus is likely to reach a crescendo by April especially for teachers in the key shortage subjects as well as in English were the target for 2014 was probably set too low.
Perhaps it is time to split the TTA off again from the NCTL to allow for a body that can focus entirely on recruiting enough new entrants to the profession and retaining those that we already have brought into teaching. Something certainly needs to be done to prevent a crisis of the proportions last seen just over a decade ago. Otherwise, freeing up salary structures might just look like an expensive folly.