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.


ITT allocations 2017-18

The government has finally published the ITT allocations and associated Teacher Supply Numbers for 2017-18 recruitment onto UCAS recruited teacher preparation courses. This year they have chosen not to reveal allocations to Teach First, although they do say that they will publish recruitment numbers in the ITT census. At the same time the government has also published the Teacher Supply Model (TSM) outcome and methodology for 2017-18 and forward looking implications for teacher supply into the middle of the next decade based upon present assumptions. More of that in a later post.

As far as the TSM for 2017-18 is concerned, there are reductions in the TSM compared with the previous year in Art & Design (not a surprise); Business Studies (probably a mistake based on TeachVac data) and Design & Technology. There are increases in English; Geography; History; Religious Education and Primary. All other subject areas are probably in line with the previous year.

However, and this may have been the reason for the delay in publication compared with previous years, the overall allocations are often wildly in excess of the TSM number as this table revels.

Subject TSM number UG allocations PG allocations Overall Allocation as at 19th February 2017 Allocation as % of TSM
Art & Design 577 0 1216 1216 211%
Biology 1188 15 2339 2354 198%
Business Studies 218 0 762 762 350%
Chemistry 1053 27 2468 2495 237%
Classics 69 0 91 91 132%
Computing 723 139 1924 2083 288%
Design & Technology 917 65 1622 1687 184%
Drama 345 0 440 440 128%
English 2426 75 3763 3838 158%
Geography 1531 12 422 2434 159%
History 1160 0 1393 1393 120%
Mathematics 3102 258 4879 5164 166%
Languages 1514 128 3070 3198 211%
Music 393 20 922 942 240%
Other Subjects 812 0 1404 1404 173%
Physical Education 999 137 1157 1294 130%
Physics 1055 84 3124 3208 304%
Religious Education 643 45 1552 1597 248%
Secondary All 18726 1005 34548 35600 190%
Primary 12121 5667 15468 21135 174%
All 30847 6672 50016 56735 184%

Source DfE allocations published 9th May 2017

As the regional breakdown isn’t easy to determine by subject, it isn’t clear whether the Public Accounts Committee view about regional need has been met in the overall allocations or whether some areas will do better than others.

As we know, the 2017-18 recruitment round is proving challenging, so the over allocations in many subjects are likely to be of little overall importance whatever their regional effects, except that is to the trainees paying out £9000+ for their fees and then competing for jobs next spring.

The 6,335 trainees offered a salaried place with no doubt be alright, as will those with the generous bursaries, but those in the other subjects ought to look long and hard at the cost of training to be a teacher compared with the likelihood of finding a teaching post in 2018 or 2020 for those offered an undergraduate place. Of course, without the Teach First or High Potential Teacher Training route as we must now seemingly call the scheme data, they cannot really know how well the odds of finding a teaching post will stack up next year.

Heading towards disaster?

The latest UCAS data on the number of trainees offered or holding places for 2017 graduate courses to train as a teacher makes for grim reading. This blog has been warning, without trying to use sensational language, for some months now that all wasn’t going well. The figures issued today, based upon offers recorded up to Easter, show new lows over the last four cycles at this point in the year in terms of offers made and accepted in some subjects. So far, the serious issues are only in Business Studies, Chemistry, IT and music, and in two of these subjects a decline in teaching time over recent years means the Teacher Supply Model may be over-estimating the likely demand for teachers. In Chemistry and Business Studies, the lack of offers so far this year may be more serious for schools in 2018, especially where there are rising rolls.

The one crumb of comfort is the increase in offers in both history and geography. Elsewhere, in Mathematics and English, the trend line look unpropitious for the remainder of the recruitment round, unless there is a major shift in direction. This may be less of an issue in Mathematics than English. There are already shortages in English in 2017 according to TeachVac’s data. In Mathematics, as ever, it is not just the numbers, but also the quality of mathematical knowledge and the teaching ability of trainees that matters to schools. Hopefully, lower numbers don’t mean fewer high quality applicants.

Overall, around 2,000 less offers have been made in this recruitment round across England compared with April last year. Applicant numbers are down in all age groups, but significantly down for the younger age groups. For instance, women 21 and under are down from 3,990 applicants last year to 3,490 this year, with a similar fall of 410 in applicant numbers for those aged 22, but smaller falls among the older age groups. Only 1,100 men age 21 or under have applied so far this year; a drop of around 10% on last year at this point in time. Overall, applications from men are down by just over seven per cent, a greater decline than for applications from women.

In total applications are down to only just over 90,000, meaning most applicants have made full use of all their choices.  The good news is that there are 10 more applicants in the South West than last year; the bad news, 500 fewer in London. Indeed, there are 770 fewer offers to applicants applying to London than this point last year: with rising rolls that is really bad news for 2018.

School Direct Salaried has attracted around 500 fewer applicants for the secondary sector this year, with only 80 confirmed placed applicants so far in 2017. As these are all graduates with work experience, this number is disappointingly low and down on the 120 of April last year. The conditionally placed number is also down, from 790 to 530. Undoubtedly, some of the decline is due to the Easter holidays, but that would also have been true for 2016 figures. The one potentially bright spot is the increase in applicants holding offers, but until these numbers turn into placed applicants they are always at risk of disappearing. On the face of it, and without overall allocation numbers, primary offers seem to be holding up relatively well. It is the secondary sector that remains the key area for concern.

With purdah upon us, we can but hope that the increased DfE marketing budget, the topic of an earlier post, will help to attract more applicants over the summer. However, uncertainty over the future direction of secondary education and selective schools might put off some would-be teachers educated in the comprehensive system. Either way, 2018 looks like being a challenge for schools in London and the South East needing to recruit teachers. You will need TeachVac’s free service more than ever: have you signed up yet?

January blues for secondary ITT?

The next four weeks are vital one for teacher supply and the number of teachers entering the labour market in 2018. As that date will see the start of the real rise in secondary school rolls what happens this year is of real concern. While the idea of apprenticeships sound great for the future, what matter for 2018 is the state of the current recruitment round for September this year.

As I hinted, when the UCAS data was published for December, there were concerns about a slowdown in applicant numbers for secondary courses. The January 2017 number for applicants, revealed this week, is 20,360, down from 21,790 or just over 1,400 fewer applicants than last year at this time. Looking back at the former GTTR scheme in January 2011, on the 16th January that year there were 37.016 applicants. Of those, 10,864 were men and 26,152 were women. This compares with 6,550 men across all UK countries this year and 15,600 women, of whom 14,390 were domiciled in England. Non-UK domiciled totalled 500 this January, so can largely be ignored in any comparison figures.

In the early years of this century, when I was following the applications data on a weekly basis, the number of women applying to teaching was on a rising curve. The loss of some 10,000 women by this point in the application cycle compared with 2011 is worrying. Yes, 2011 was when graduate recruitment was low across the labour market because of the after-effects of the recession, and by 2012 the number had dropped to just below 22,000, but even so, a figure of around 15,000 female applicants must be concerning. Happily, it was even worse two years ago, so that may offer some comfort, but not much.

Last month, I reported on the decline in applications from those under the age of 22. That trend continues, but this month there are also fewer 30 somethings than last year although applications form the 40+ group are holding up.

Each applicant can make up to three applications, so any reductions in applications could be down to applicants making fewer applications. However, the reduction is applicants must account for some of the reduction in applications. The greatest reduction in applications seems to be for school-based programmes whether the fee or salaried routes. SCITTs and higher education seem to be holding up better in terms of applications. This trend, if it continues, needs further investigation by NCTL.

Geography, Mandarin and PE are some of the areas where there are more applications this year than last year at this date. Design & Technology seems to have suffered a larger than average decline, but some of that may be due to the way the data is presented by UCAS each year. Generally, in terms of the offers made, the position is similar to this point in 2015, so that 2016 is looking as if the effect of recruitment controls did affect the pattern of early offers as providers raced to fill courses lest they be closed before they were full. Even in history and PE, offers this year are lower than last year, so over-recruitment might also be lower come the end of the cycle.

Bursaries Matter?

Yesterday, UCAS published the December 2016 data for applications to teacher training courses starting in the autumn of this year. The figures are for graduate courses. The data shows that compared with December 2015, applications for courses to train as a primary teachers were very similar this year to levels seen in December 2015. However, there has been a worrying dip in applications from those under the age of 22 for some secondary subjects. Applications from older graduates are much closer to the figures for December 2015; indeed, applicant numbers from those over the age of 40 were exactly the same as in December 2015.

The worry is around the fact that those under the age of 22 make up around a third of applicants, even at these reduced levels. Now it may be that this is a one month dip that will be rectified next month when the January data is published but, if it isn’t, then there is more concern going forward. This is because we we traditionally see final year undergraduates being more concerned in the February to June period in completing their studies and graduating than in filling in applications forms for life after university.

Another explanation might be that the referees of these students are more dilatory in completing their comments than those from older applicants; but why especially in this round, this year? That theory would have more credibility if all subjects were affected. However, applications are actually up in Physical Education and geography. Both were strong subjects in recruitment terms last year and easily met their national recruitment levels.

More worrying are the declines in applications to courses in business studies, design and technology and even English, some of these are subjects where recruitment has been insufficient for some years. It is interesting that the decline in applications for mathematics, where there are generous bursaries available, is very small, with just a few less applications in 2016 than last year. In physics, the numbers seem lower, but that is complicated by the manner in which UCAS report applications for science courses.

Apart from the observed decline in applications from younger candidates, there seems to be an issue in London where the number of offers made is down by around 30% on December 2015. Now, were are only talking of just over 1,000 compared with 1,400 at the same point last year, but with primary numbers probably holding up, this may mean greater issues with secondary numbers in London.

Could it be that the higher costs associated with studying in the capital, plus the requirement to pay another year of fees at around the £9,000 level with no bursary, is finally having an impact on undergraduate thinking and that the class of 2017 are thinking twice about entering training to be a secondary school teacher where there are obvious alternative careers in the private sector?

One shouldn’t make too much from two months data, but a quarter of a century of studying the numbers does make me uneasy. If the January data revels a three month downward trend, then I will be more concerned.

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.


Is Lucy Kellaway an outlier?

The good news seems to be that the soaring cost of tuition fees isn’t putting of new graduates from pursuing a career as a teacher: perhaps they recognise they will never repay these fees unless there is a period of rampant inflation at some point in the future.

In the ITT census for 2016, published last Thursday, the percentage of graduates under 25 entering postgraduate training has increased from 44% of the total in 2012/13 to 53% in 2016/17. There has been a corresponding fall in among older graduates, with the 25-29 age group showing the sharpest decline, down from 31% in 2012/13 to 24% in 2016/17.

Interestingly, the 25-29 age group accounts for the largest number of School Direct Salaried trainees in 2016/17, some 1,132 out of the 3,159 on this route; 36% of all such trainees. I am not sure how there can be 629 under 25s on the Salaried route, as many must just qualify for the three year post-degree requirement to be part of the programme. Indeed, there are more under 25s than there are trainees over 40 on the salaried route this year. Those on the salaried route under the age of thirty account for 56% of the trainees on this route into teaching: not, perhaps, what was intended when the scheme was devised.

The fact that only 73% of Teach First trainees are under 25 is also of interest since the scheme was designed to attract new graduates. However, 94% were under the age of thirty, so perhaps the programme is doing a good job with mature new graduates. Overall, the mean age of all Teach First’s new trainees this year was just 24.

The 7,328 under 25s that started a teacher preparation course in a higher education institution this September still account for the largest single group of new post-graduate trainees.

Men remain firmly in the minority among those with a declared gender. Only 20% of postgraduate and 15% of undergraduate entrants to primary courses are men this year. Although the undergraduate percentage has remained stable for some years now, the postgraduate percentage has declined from 23% as recently as 2013/14 to 20% this year and men accounted for only 17% of trainees recruited to the primary Teach First route. Still, there percentages are better than 20 years ago, when men only accounted for 16% of primary PGCE trainees in 1995.

There is relatively better news in the secondary sector, where men accounted for 40% of recruitment this year, up from 37% in 2012/13. This means that an extra 1,000 men started secondary teacher preparation courses this year compared with in 2012/13. However, even here Teach First lagged behind other routes, as men accounted for only 35% of their new secondary trainees this year.

There is more god news for the government in the fact that 2016/17 sees 15% of trainees coming from minority ethnic groups; the best percentage since before 2012/13. Here Teach First does better than the school based routes, but higher education institutions lead the way with nearly one in five of their trainees from minority ethnic groups. The location of schools and their propensity to recruit from their localities may account for the relatively low overall recruitment percentage from minority ethnic groups since the distribution of graduates in these groups is not spread evenly across England.

Lucy kellaway will find that there are 117 trainee teachers aged 55+ this year, with a further 421 between 50-54. Together, those over 50, account for 2% of new trainees.