A sigh of relief

The UCAS data on postgraduate applications to train as a teacher as recorded for May appeared today. The combination of the arrival of offers affected by the Easter holidays plus the addition of almost an extra week of data compared with last year means the government can breathe a small sigh of relief. On the evidence of this data meltdown has been averted for 2018, except perhaps in music, religious education, design and technology and probably physics.

Overall applicant numbers have recovered to 29,890 in England, still down on last year, despite the extra days and some 10% down on May 2016 applicant numbers, but it could have been worse. The decline is still national in scope, with all regions recording lower applicant numbers than in 2016. The almost 3,000 fewer applicants than last year are also spread across the age groups, although the loss is probably greatest among early career changers in their mid to late 20s. This fact shows up in the further reduction in the number of ‘placed’ applicants compared with those with either ‘conditional firm’ places or ‘holding offers’. By domicile region of applicants, ‘placed’ applicants are down from 2,330 last year to 1,890 this May. In London, ‘placed’ applicants are down from 380 to just 300.  Of course, over the next few months the ‘placed’ number will increase as ‘conditionally placed’ applicants receive their degrees and complete any other requirements needed to move them into the ‘placed’ category.

All routes, apart from applications to secondary SCITTs, have been affected by the reduction in applications. Primary courses have lost more than 6,000 applicants compared with last year and numbers ‘placed’ only just exceed 1,000, with fewer than 10,000 applicants with ‘conditional places’ and a further 700 holding offers. In total, this is barely more than 11,000 potential trainees and marks the continued downward trend for the primary sector.

In the secondary sector, SCITTS have attracted just a couple of hundred more applications than this point last year, but that must be regarded as a success. Applications to School Direct Salaried courses have nearly halved over the past two years, although whether that is a drop in applicants or a decline in interest in this route on the part of schools isn’t clear from this data. At this rate there will be fewer than 1,000 secondary trainees with a salary come September (leaving aside those on Teach First).

Looking at some of the individual secondary subjects, music has just 200 possible applicants with offers of any type, compared with 260 in May 2017. Design and Technology is down to only ten ‘placed’ applicants compared with 30 in May 2017. Even in mathematics, numbers placed or holding offers is little more than 1,500; a new low for May in recent times.

Finishing on a good note, English is doing relatively well, with 1,640 offers, although that still isn’t enough to meet the Teacher Supply Number of just over 2,500 trainees.

Overall, perhaps the sigh of relief might only be a small one at the moment. Let’s hope for better times next month as new graduates that haven’t done anything about a job while studying start to decide how to spend their future.



7 thoughts on “A sigh of relief

  1. Thanks for the update John. If the school direct numbers are going down and SCITT are holding their own what does this mean for HEI? Have they stepped in to stem the recruitment challenge? Are the subjects doing differently in the SCITTs to HEIs?

    • James,

      Individual subjects by provider are in the monthly data but could be abstracted form the daily data. I don’t have time to do so at present, but the overall data shows an interesting trend over the past four years, especially in secondary

      Primary 2015 2016 2017 2018
      HE 51 45 48 47
      SCITT 8 9 9 10
      SDFEE 24 27 25 25
      SDSAL 17 19 18 18

      Secondary 2015 2016 2017 2018
      HE 51 47 50 52
      SCITT 8 10 11 12
      SDFEE 29 31 29 28
      SDSAL 12 12 9 7

      hope this is of use.


      • Thanks John. Really appreciated. I can see that the shift has happened from 2016-2018. 5% up for HEI and 5% down for SD so a net 10% for secondary. Less in primary – only a 4% net shift. Perhaps we need to convert more primary applicants into secondary applicants.

      • Converting applicants has always proved a challenge but is always worth trying to do. The present UCAS system needs to be more flexible in term sof how applicants can change their minds.

        John Howson

  2. Thanks John. We also think there are long term issues building up due to EBACC and AS changes.

    There seems to be fewer people taking some secondary school (teacher) subjects at post 16 which are needed to provide a supply five year’s later of graduates for ITE. We could end up with SKE courses being the main provider of subject specialists for some subjects at this rate.

    I’m also hearing that fewer boys are taking some subjects like English or History due to the AS change. We could end up with even more polarised gender in the profession for some subjects by the time these changes filter through to ITE recruitment.

    • James,

      I wasn’t a fan of the abolition of A/S levels as it gave the breadth without forcing anyone into a straitjacket. When the School Workforce Census data is published later this month there should be a concerted campaign for CPD to increase subject skills of those regularly teaching a subject but lacking in training and expertise. I favour subject certification, but few others seem to.


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