Still a recruitment challenge in 2017, for some if not all

At the end of September, I posted a blog with my predictions about recruitment against target for ITT graduate courses that started this September, excluding Teach First. I had expected Teach First to meet its targets, but seemingly it didn’t and that hasn’t helped the overall percentages. Nevertheless, how did I do?

You can check the original post at or use the sidebar to navigate to September 2016.

My original predictions and the outcomes appear below. I wrote in September that:

As far as individual secondary subjects are concerned, this has been a better year for applications in many subjects than 2015, although the increase has not be universal. The actual outcome won’t be known until the ITT census in November, but on the basis of this UCAS data it appears that the following might be the outcome in relation to the government’s Teacher Supply Model number (minus the Teach First allocation, where applications are not handled by UCAS).

Art & Design – acceptances above 2015, but not likely to be enough to meet the TSM number. Only 82% of target was met – worse than I expected, but should still be enough to satisfy demand in 2017 from schools.

Biology – acceptances above 2015 and should meet TSM number. Very strong recruitment reaching 115% of target, the second highest percentage of any subject this year. Some trainees may struggle to find jobs in 2017.

Business Studies – acceptances above 2015, close to TSM, but the TSM isn’t large enough to meet demand from schools for these teachers. Only 85% of places filled. I was slightly over-optimistic. On basis of last two years of data schools will find this is not enough trainees to meet demand. DfE must explain why the subject doesn’t rate more support?

Chemistry – acceptances above 2015 and should meet TSM number. As indeed it almost did with 99% of target met. Schools should find recruitment easier in 2017 than in previous two years.

IT/computing – acceptances below last year and not enough to meet TSM. Only 68% of places met, so the latter part of 2017 might challenging for schools looking for an IT teacher for January 2018, but it depends upon overall level of demand that has fluctuated from year to year more so than in some other subjects.

Design & Technology – the position is unclear from the UCAS data, but TSM may not be met. In fact outcome was a disaster, with only 41% of target places filled. The UCAS data system must allow this fact to be tracked and the DfE must consider whether financial support is sufficient. If not, it must be questionable whether the subject or at least some aspects of it will survive in schools much longer.

English – acceptances similar to last year and should meet TSM number. Here recruitment controls seem to have worked better than in some subjects, with 98% of target met. Those schools without School Direct or Teach First trainees may struggle to fill vacancies later in the year in 2017, since only 25% of trainees are in higher education courses and 15% are on Teach First, with a further 20% on the School Direct salaried route. This is more than double the number in any other School Direct salaried subject.

Geography – acceptances above 2015 and should meet TSM number. In fact target was passed, with 116% recruitment, higher than in any other subject. This should mean schools have little difficulty recruiting in 2017.

History – acceptances above 2015 and should meet TSM number. Target exceeded and 112% recruited. No real excuse for this overshoot, especially as only 30% are in higher education courses. Some trainees will struggle to find teaching post in 2017 unless there is a surge in demand.

Mathematics – acceptances above last year, but probably still not enough to meet the TSM number. And that was the outcome. A good year all round and had the target not been increased there would have been an overshoot on the target of 2015. Do bursaries work here and will there be an issue about extent of subject knowledge of some trainees? This outcome poses problems for the Migration Advisory Committee in reference to whether the subject should still qualify for tier 2 visa status?

Music – acceptances above 2015 and should meet TSM number. Sadly, it didn’t and the target was missed by 10%, although that is only 40 trainees. Higher education courses account for half of trainees and there are too few School Direct Salaried trainees to count. Some schools may struggle to recruit in 2017, especially for January 2018 appointments.

Physics – acceptances above 2015, but probably still not enough to meet the TSM number. And that was the outcome, with only 81% of places being filled. Higher education accounted for more than half of the 2016 cohort of trainees. Schools will still struggle to recruit the 444 trainees not in school-based courses. The independent sector may absorb a large proportion of these trainees.

Physical Education – acceptances below last year due to the effects of the recruitment controls, but should be enough to meet TSM. There was still over-recruitment, despite the controls, and perhaps 500 trainees will struggle to find a teaching post in their subject tin 2017.

Religious Education – acceptances below last year and not enough to meet TSM. Only 80% of places were filled with higher education recruiting a very high percentage of the trainees (60%) and Teach First and School Direct Salaried routes  contributing realtively rew to the trainee count Schools will find recruitment more of a challenge as the year progresses.

Languages – difficult to determine exact position from the UCAS data, but should easily meet TSM number on the basis of acceptances. In fact, 95% of places were filled although 59% of these were in higher education institutions. On the basis of 2015 and 2016, the number of trainees overall will be sufficient, but whether they have the languages needed is another matter and I am not sure anyone actually knows.

So, the predictions weren’t too far out. That’s a relief. The outcome shows some schools will face recruitment challenges in 2017 and for January 2018 unless their financial situation deteriorates, so as to reduce demand.

What happens to retention will also be another significant factor in determining recruitment. However, pupil numbers at key Stage 3 are on the increase, so unless class sizes also increase that may create further demand. From that point of view, any weakening in the demand from the independent sector because of fewer overseas students would be helpful. However, the sinking pound makes UK schooling cheaper to buy for many that want it for their children.

In all, 2017 will be, not a disaster, but a challenge, more so for some schools than others and the government is by no means off the hook in terms of solving the recruitment issue.


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