Yesterday The Guardian carried an article about the impending teacher shortage that was kind enough to quote some figures from the research I have undertaken. You can read the full article at http://www.theguardian.com/education/2014/jun/30/teacher-shortage-in-2020s Various BBC local radio stations have picked up on the story, and I am once again being asked to do interviews down the phone. In preparing for the one on Radio Tess tomorrow morning I thought I would check the position in the North East regarding the number of teacher preparation courses still with vacancies as of today by looking at the UCAS web site. It is irritating that whereas the DfE site last year showed the number of places, and the number still available, UCAS this year only shows whether the provider has a vacancy at present or not.
Anyway, the depressing news for a region that usually has no problem filling its ITT places is that apart from in History, PE, and some modern foreign languages, there are still a considerable number of providers with at least one vacancy in many other subjects. For instance 16/17 providers of places in geography have at least one vacancy: only Newcastle University has the course full sign up in this subject. That’s actually down from both universities offering places in geography that were full last time I looked a couple of weeks ago. In Mathematics, 30 out of the 38 providers still have places, and in Physics it is 23 out of 24! Even in primary, where I would have expected in most years all places to have been long filled, and there to be unofficial waiting lists, this year, 46 of the 95 providers offering graduate training courses for intending primary teachers are still showing vacancies. Of course, that might only be 46 vacancies out of several hundred places, but surely there shouldn’t be any vacancies nine weeks before the courses actually start.
No doubt the review by Sir Peter Carter that is currently under way will take cognisance of this type of data, and want to report on what is hampering recruitment this year, for we really cannot experience another year likes this next year.
Sadly, it is probably too late to do anything about most unfilled places this year as schools approach the start of the long summer break. Nevertheless, Ministers will have to answer some challenging questions come the autumn if the current figures turn out to be the reality of the recruitment round.
In the past, the DfE has tended to treat a year once over as a disappointment, but no more, if places are not filled. I doubt that commentators will be as forgiving of any shortfall against training numbers this year as we have so many extra pupils to find teachers for during the coming decade, as the Guardian article made clear.
It is too soon to decide whether one type of programme has fared worse than another, but there may well be a debate about this once the final figures are known in the autumn.