The data provided today by UCAS about the state of play with applications to the graduate teacher training programmes administered through them provides mixed messages. On the one hand, applications overall continue their upward trend: good news. On the other hand, young graduates, and especially young men, seem to be avoiding teaching as a career. There is a loss of 320 men under the age of 30 compared with the same point last year. However, that is more than compensated for by 420 more men over the age of thirty than applied last year, including 270 in their 40s or 50s., for a net gain of 150, or about 1.5% more than last year. We don’t know how these extra men are split between those applying for primary and secondary courses as that information isn’t provided.
The pattern for women is very similar to that for men, except that it is only the 22 and 23 year olds that are applying in smaller numbers than last year and then only by 180 overall. However, 770, of the just over 800 more applicants than last year, are in their 30s or 40s. The total increase is in the order of four per cent compared with last year.
With a greater number of older applicants than last year, it might be expected that those unconditionally accepted, or ‘placed’ to use the UCAS terminology, would be higher than last year. However, that isn’t the case. ‘Placed’ applicants are 320 down on the 3,340 recorded at this stage last year. There are also fewer holding interview requests and awaiting a provider offer. The good news is that the number of ‘conditional placed’ applicants is up from 19,420 to 22,590, a net gain of 3,150 applicants. I am sure everyone will hope that these applicants can meet the requirements over the next months and move from the ‘conditional placed’ to the ‘placed’ columns of the spreadsheet.
Although the numbers are small, there are fewer ‘placed’ candidates than last year in London, the South East and the South West regions, although all these regions have more ‘conditional placed’ applicants than last year.
In some subjects it is impossible to tell from the published figures how recruitment is faring compared to last year. However, it looks likely that mathematics won’t meet the required target number again this year unless there is a late surge in applicants. The same is true for computing and business studies. After a bad year last year, geography appears to be doing better this year, as is Religious Education. PE and history will rely upon retaining all their applicants with further recruitment closed.
Older applicants are more likely to be limited in where they will seek a job at the end of their training and once courses start it would be helpful to schools to know the age breakdown of applicants in their region or locality. It is also important to know whether more applicants are not lasting the course since the number of withdrawn applications is also up this year.