Young graduates still not attracted to teaching in large enough numbers

The good news is that offers for secondary teacher preparation courses aren’t generally any worse than last month. Indeed, in the humanities, the loosening of recruitment targets have probably helped propel offers in history and geography to new high levels. Whether it is fair to  offer places to students to train as a history teacher and take on the extra debt involved when there are likely to be far more trainees than vacancies available in 2018 is a question that presumably everyone involved with teacher preparation is happy to answer in the affirmative. After all, the students know the risk they are running and aren’t callow eighteen year olds fresh from school.

Generally, there must be concern about what is happening to recruitment in the sciences and in particular Chemistry. After several good years recruiting, offers are back to the level last seen in 2013/14, although even that represent an improvement on the situation earlier this year. Hopefully, a significant proportion of those in the unspecified science category are really looking to be Chemistry teachers. We won’t know until the ITT census in the autumn whether or not it is actually the case.

It is undoubtedly the fact that the figure for offers to secondary courses would be far worse if all routes had the same offer to application ratio of School Direct Salaried. This year, just 17% of applicants are currently shown as placed or holding an offer. Last year, the figure at this point in the cycle was 18%. In numerical terms that means a drop from 1,310 last year to just 900 this year, with 740 of those only conditionally placed. By contrast, the School Direct Fee route has a ratio of 22% and SCITTs and higher education have placed or made offers to 28% of their applicants. Indeed, the much maligned university sector has accounted for 6,930 of the 13,150 offers made so far this year: that’s 53% of the total in a sector that was supposed to have been removed from teacher preparation by now under Mr Gove’s school-based training plans. In the primary sector, higher education accounts for just about half of the places and there are more offers for School Direct salaried places than in the secondary sector. However, we don’t know how many of these may be already working in schools in another capacity before transferring onto a teacher preparation programme.

Last month, I raised concerns about the situation in London where offers across both primary and secondary courses now total 4,370 compared with 4,800 at this point last year. Total applicant numbers in England are still below the 36,000 mark, more than 1,000 down on this point last year.

Although there are more 23 year olds applying this year than last, applications from younger graduates  of 21 or 22 still remain below last year and there are fewer career changers in their 30s this year. Last night, I saw two of the Royal Navy TV adverts, but I cannot recall when I last saw a TV advert for teaching: perhaps I am looking at the wrong channels.

With many schools being less likely to recruit applicants over the summer months, despite incentives to do so, the next month is likely to represent the final opportunity to improve on the predicted outcome for this year and a resulting challenging job market in 2018.



4 thoughts on “Young graduates still not attracted to teaching in large enough numbers

  1. We have some disabled trainee teachers starting in September and I am pleased we are being inclusive and supportive. However, it did make me wonder if the numbers of disabled applicants to teacher training are being monitored and what proportion of trainees are disabled against national figures. Are these figures compiled by NCTL and could more be done to help disabled graduates come into teaching I wonder?

    • They should be monitored by NCTL. There used to be a required return when gender, ethnicity and disability were being more closely monitored. Generally, disability came very low in terms of numbers, so any local support is to be welcomed. However, the lack of a guarantee of a teaching post is a further complication, although one of the early Plato awards went to a teacher in a wheelchair working in a special school in Northern Ireland.

      Hopefully most providers of courses are sufficiently DDA compliant to be able to offer places to students with a disability. Whether schools are also is another issue. It would be wonderful to see an athlete from the Paralympics training as a teacher. Has it happened?

      John Howson

  2. Perhaps an additional bursary of the kind offered for subject knowledge or degree class would make teaching more attractive to disabled graduates. Would NCTL respond directly regarding numbers? The Open University used to offer a PGCE and had a good record of attractiing disabled graduates but shut their programme due to falling numbers.
    As for the paralympic athletes. It is a good question. One would hope so!

    • James,

      It is worth opening a dialogue with the NCTL/DfE about recruiting more disabled trainees so teaching is more representative of society as a whole. It might be worth an FOI on the number of disabled students by the different routes into teaching. how many have accessed Teach First or School Direct Salaried routes in recent years or have all come through universities?


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