Acceptances increase to meet recruitment challenge

Many years ago I wondered what would happen if women stopped applying to become teachers. The policy aim over the past has witnessed attempts to reverse the decline in applications from men while no doubt hoping that applications from women continue to underpin the total number of applications.

Over the past few years, and especially during the recession, the numbers of both women and men applying for teacher training as graduates increased. Now they are both back on the downward path.

Compare three years – applications from graduates to train as teachers

Men      Women          All applicants

2001                       12,906   27,989             40,895

2005                       18,822   40,321              60,143

2015                       15,170   30,290              45,460 * To 17th August

Now the 2015 number will increase a bit and it doesn’t include applications just for Teach First, but then the earlier numbers didn’t include GTTP, Fast Track and any other schemes that didn’t recruit through the central admissions system, including the Open University.

So, it seems that this year we are not yet back to the level of 2001, but applications are down by close to a quarter on a decade ago. That means there are 10,000 fewer women applying and three thousand fewer men. In percentage terms applications from men a down by close to a fifth on a decade ago whereas those from women are down by a quarter.

But, someone reading this is bound to ask, didn’t you say there were more acceptances in some subjects this year than last? How can that be?

The answer is, of course, that the offer to application ratio has increased. At the August data point last year, across the system as a whole, some 60% of applicants had received an offer of one kind or another. At the same point this year, the percentage had increased to 64% of applicants being made an offer. Interestingly in London, the area where the labour market is at its most challenging for schools, only 57% of applicants were shown with an offer. However, this increases to 67% for offers made by providers in the South East. In the North East it is 65%.

It would be interesting to know whether the additional costs factors associated with living in London have meant applicants have turned down a chance to train in the capital’s schools or whether it possibly the effect of Teach First taking the best of possible candidates as they can offer a salary? Either way, it is noticeable in a search yesterday on the UCAS system showed that the UCL-Institute of Education still posted vacancies in more secondary subjects than were full. Incidentally, 28 universities were still in Clearing yesterday for undergraduate primary teacher training and 40 of the 149 postgraduate courses training primary school teachers in London still showed vacancies.

Now it is possible that this year will mark the turning point of the economic cycle, with the slowdown in the Chinese economy putting the brake on graduate recruitment in 2016. However, it still leaves schools to weather the 2016 recruitment challenge and, based upon these figures, together with the growing school population, that is not likely to be easy for schools unless an economic collapse brings in a flood of returners.  However, it seems the DfE has a plan – recruit overseas.

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