Early applications to train as a teacher show positive signs

Life has been a bit hectic for me recently. A week in The Gulf helping deliver a workshop for the British Council and since my return time spent doing battle with what I now know to be an abscess in my jaw; painful and debilitating.  This has meant that the November UCAS data has taken second place to other matters when it comes to writing my blog. However, I have now found time to look at what has been happening at the start of the 2016/17 recruitment round.

It is ironic, to say the least, to see data for November, since for many years this was regarded as too early in the recruitment round to be of any meaningful use. That wasn’t the case, but it helped save some blushes until the end of January when applications data was always published. As regular readers know, the battle over when data on acceptances should appear or indeed if it should appear at all is much more recent.

Anyway, how many more applicants were queuing up to train as a teacher when the UCAS scheme for 2017 opened this autumn than last year? The good news is that for applicants domiciled in England there were 11,660 in the system by mid-November 2016 compared with 7,840 at the similar point in 2015. That’s 3,820 more or an increase of nearly a half. Applications from those over 30 have remained static, but there has been a healthy increase in applications from young graduates. There were 3,390 male applicants this year by min-November compared with 2,100 last year at that time. There is one little caveat in that there is five days difference in the reporting dates between 2015 and 2016, with 2016 being that much later, so one would expect slightly higher figures, but not this level of increase.

Applications have increased from 22,510 at this point in 2015, to 33,840 in November 2016, with growth in applications for both primary and secondary courses. Candidates may make up to three applications, so the growth in applications seems lower than the increase in applicants, suggesting that some applicants may be making fewer applications. Applications are up for all the routes, with HE courses still attracting the bulk of the applications, up from 11,130 to 16,470, whereas applications for School Direct Salaried are up from 3,040 to 4,680. Interestingly, one of the smaller increases if for School Direct Salaried places in the secondary sector where the increase has been from 920 applications at this point last year to 1,140 this year.

The secondary subjects with the largest number of applications this year, as ever, are PE – up from 4,080 to 5,950; history – up from 1,260 to 1,830 and English – up from 1,350 to 1,870. For the first two subjects there will once again be a scramble for places and it is not helpful for the sector to be unaware of the overall total. Sadly, in Design & Technology, there may be fewer applications than at this point in 2015.

It is always good to be able to report an upward trend in applications. The issue is whether it can be sustained or just represents an early flurry of young applicants geared up to apply as soon as the recruitment round opens. By the December figures, we should start to have a clearer picture, but it will be the end of February before serious discussions on the likely outcome of the recruitment round can take place. Hopefully, we will still be seeing more interest in teaching than in recent years and will also know the number of places that need to be filled.



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