The recent publication of the April admissions figures for ITT courses starting this autumn look like further acceptable news for the government. I hesitate to say ‘good news’ because it is still probable that not all subjects will reach their required levels of admissions to meet the probable demand for new teachers in 2017. That’s a rather convoluted way of saying some Teacher Supply Model numbers will be missed again this summer.
As ever, despite the upturn in university admissions for undergraduate courses in many STEM subjects, it is the mathematics, physics, design and technology and IT areas that are most likely to miss their targets again. Even Teach First, when I looked at their web site https://graduates.teachfirst.org.uk/application-selection/subject-availability on 6th May hadn’t yet closed any of their subjects including some where recruitment controls have been applied to the courses in the UCAS admissions scheme; Teach First don’t, however, offer PE as a subject.
Still, after a couple of frankly dreadful years, applications are generally holding up so far. The real issue is what will happen between now and the end of the recruitment round and then how many applicants turn up when courses start. There may also be regional issues, but they are not apparent from the data publically available. Whether or not training ‘career changers’ in parts of the country where vacancies are relatively rare helps the task of staffing schools is a moot point.
Looking at the UCAS figures in detail, it seems as if the trend to fewer applicants from the 22-24 age-group is continuing. This decline, reported in earlier blog posts on this site, is balanced this year by a slightly greater increase in the number of applicants over the age of 40. Overall, applications with a domicile in England increased by around 1,470 compared with April 2015 numbers. This is an increase of between 4-5%. In view of the recruitment controls, I am sure the percentage would have been higher with unfettered recruitment policies. So, I am sure that the TV advertising does make some difference to recruitment.
The other issue is whether the recruitment controls have allowed the best candidates to be recruited? There is a loss of recruits to choose from in PE, English and History, although the exact change in the number of applicants isn’t disclosed, even though the probable change in the number of applications can be deduced from other data. It would be helpful to know the number of applicants per subject and their age ranges to help inform the debate about what sort of system should be used for the 2017 admissions round?
Regionally, there are more applicants across the country with London and the Home Counties seeing the largest increase in applicant numbers, if not the greatest increase in the percentage of applicants. In terms of applications rather than applicants, the re-balancing of places has resulted in fewer applications to universities and more to SCITTs and the School Direct routes although overall there has been a slight drop in applications, possibly due to the effects of the recruitment controls.
With university finals looming, there will probably be little change in the May data, so it will be late June before it becomes obvious where new graduates are looking to teaching as a late career choice.