Mixed messages on trainee numbers

The UCAS data on the numbers applying for and accepted for postgraduate teacher preparation courses starting this autumn were published earlier today. Usually, these numbers represent a good guide to the actual numbers likely to be recorded in the DfE’s ITT census, taken shortly after courses have commenced. This year, a change in the manner of how ‘conditional place’ and’ holding offer’ numbers are recorded for applications, but not applicants, compared to previous years has led to a risk that the data may be less reliable as a guide, especially in the three science subjects.

For secondary numbers, the outcome overall looks as if it will be similar to last year, with some subjects doing slightly better than last year and other slightly worse. Overall applicant numbers are very similar to this point last year, just 850 or so down on last year for England; a decline of around two per cent. Hopefully, this means the bottom of the cycle has been reached.

Although there has been a significant recovery in applications for those under the age of 25, numbers in these age groups are still down on last year. The loss is balanced by increases in applications from those over the age of 30. However, these older applicants have not been ‘placed’ to the same extent as last year. But, there are larger numbers in the ‘conditional placed’ and ‘holding offer’ categories that are still in use for applicant numbers, even though they are not included in the applications table for secondary subjects.

Interestingly, it is a late increase in the number of women applicants that has boosted the total. The number of male applicants, at 12,570 overall, is 670 down on the 2017 August figure.

Total number offered a place with or without conditions has increased from 67% of total applicants to 72% this year. No doubt the Minister’s views on the subject, expressed in a speech earlier in the year, may have boosted offer rates.

After allowing for the fact that application numbers are expressed differently to last year, the number likely to be recruited to primary sector courses appears possibly to be around 1,500 fewer than last year according to the numbers in table B.8. This is a lot better than seemed likely the case in the early months of 2018. However, these is a difference of several thousand between this table and the numbers cited for primary course types in Table B.11. Using Table B.8 for secondary, the recorded number of applications has increased from 64,760 to 66,770, between August 2017 and August 2018. However, numbers offered places may be lower than in 2017.

School Direct offers of all types seem to be down, when compared with August 2017, in both the primary and secondary sectors, with just 990 offers for Secondary School Direct Salaried courses compared with 1,130 offers of all types for these places last August. If confirmed in the ITT census this, further reduction will present a real challenge for the future of this Scheme, celebrated by Michael Gove when Secretary of State for Education as the future route for training teachers.

Next month there will be the end of cycle preliminary figures and then nothing until the start of the 2019 recruitment round in November.


8 thoughts on “Mixed messages on trainee numbers

  1. An interesting read, thank you. Do you have the figures on the unsalaried school direct route compared to last August? Many thanks!

      • Thanks, John. I’m mainly interested in the secondary figures but I can check them out for myself now, thanks again. Would be interested to know your thoughts on why school direct has experienced a continued decline compared to other routes.


      • Chris,

        My guess is about the funding and regulations plus expectation of recruiting through the summer. what seemed like a good idea at the time turned out not to be. Curious as when Gove was championing School Direct, SCITTs were out of favour. Now seem like a better way forward for school-led involvement?


      • Thanks, John.

        I can’t seem to reply to your most recent response so ha e had to reply to your previous answer.

        Speaking to my local SCITT director they said it cost them £150K to set up, they now have to recruit 70 trainees a year just to break even (could this mean they’re lowering their standards just to get bodies through the door?). Do you know how many SCITTs have been established over the last few years? Are there increasing numbers of SCITTs or are things slowing down? Do we know how many SCITTs have gone bankrupt??

        Sorry for all the questions!


      • Chris,

        I don’t have that data but either NASBTT, the National Association of School Based Trainer or UCET, the Universities council for the Education of Teachers probably does. Both have web sites, but if you have difficulties email me and I will provide contacts.

        John Howson

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