Applications to train as a teacher still far too low for comfort

Let’s start with the good news: there isn’t going to be a shortage of PE teachers in 2019. Last month also saw some applications and acceptances for graduate teacher training courses. But, that’s about the good news that I can find from the latest UCAS data on applications and acceptances processed by mid-February 2018.

On the downside, a group of subjects are recording either new lows for February when compared with any cycle since the 2013/14 recruitment round or an equal joint low with the figure for February acceptances in the 2013/14 cycle that was the last really poor recruitment round. The list of subjects bumping along the bottom includes: Chemistry; IT; design & technology; mathematics; music; physics, religious education and art.

Applications for primary courses still remain a matter for serious concern, with just 26,430 applications compared with 39,240 in February 2016. Assuming around 2.5 applications per applicants that translates into less than 11,000 applicants for primary places. Acceptance rates amount to 7,320 for primary this February, compared with 10,910 at the same point two years ago in 2016. (Based upon place; conditionally placed and those holding an offer). The only spot of good news is that the number of offers being held is 1,020 this year for primary compared with 990 at this point in 2016. Nevertheless, with around 12,500 primary places to be filled by postgraduates, the current situation isn’t looking good.

Across the secondary courses, total applications of 27,910 are relatively in better shape than primary, since the fall from 2016 is only from 36,560 applications. As a result, applications for secondary courses continue to be above the total of applications for primary courses. However, there is little room for complacency as the following table relating to placed candidates and those holding offers in February and March of recent recruitment rounds for mathematics demonstrates.

Mathematics – the number of candidates accepted or holding offers in recent recruitment rounds

Recruitment round February March
2013/14 920 1140
2014/15 940 1110
2015/16 980 1290
2016/17 900 1160
2017/18 700

Source; UCAS monthly Statistics

In the 2011/12 recruitment cycle, before School Direct had been included in the UCAS process, applications totalled some 34,936 candidates at the February measuring point. This compares with 18,830 applicants domiciled in England recorded this February by UCAS; down from 24,700 in February 2017. Compared with recent years, applications are down from both men and women; all age-groups and from across the country. If there is a glimmer of hope, as noted earlier, it is in the fact that across both primary and secondary sectors the number of offers being held by applicants is above the level of February 2016, although not by any great number.

The DfE’s new TV campaign has now kicked in and, if targeted properly by the agency, this should help to attract some more applicants. However, between now and June, most final year undergraduates will be concentrating on their degrees and not filling in application forms. Hopefully, with the wider economy slowing, some older graduates might start to think teaching is once again a career to consider. This week’s bad news on the retail sector employment front could be good news for teaching, but I wonder how many store assistant are actually graduates?



4 thoughts on “Applications to train as a teacher still far too low for comfort

  1. I notice that MPs will have a rise of of 1.8% in April, having received 1.4% last year. Is there a shortage of MPs? Is it harder to recruit MPs than it is to recruit STEM graduates for our schools?
    In alI think MPs have had a salary increase of some 17% since the beginning of austerity in 2010. Do I need to say more? I can vaguely remember something about supply and demand from very distant school days (Harper & Gassoon)

  2. I heard that teaching is much more stressful than it used to be, which probably explains the shortage, so that would deter me from applying to be honest.

    I’m a graduate working retail at night, it is very physically demanding but virtually stress free, and luckily with the area that I’m in, I can afford to buy a three bedroom house with me being the main earner. I’d be very reluctant to enter a stressful job like teaching, especially when existing teachers have quit the job over the years because it was too much. I opt to keep physically fit in a stress free environment, and I’m sure many in my situation feel the same.

    • Andy,

      Sure, some schools are stressful and always have been. Sure the government needs to do more about workload in term time and the nature of the employer driven flexi-time called holidays, but at the end of the day you get to work with children and young people being educated and not consumers being persuaded to buy something that they increasingly will turn to the net for rather than a person to help them make their purchase.

      Now, if you had said that the pay of a teacher was worse than in retailing …


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