An Auger effect already?

The publication of the data on ITT applications for June 2019 coincided today with the DfE’s date for publishing its annual raft of statistics on teachers and schools. The DfE data is, of course, backward facing, whereas the UCAS data tells us what to expect in the teacher labour market in 2020.

With only three months left in the current recruitment round, it is usually easy to predict the actual outcome of the recruitment round. However, with the current levels of uncertainty over issues such as the funding of schools after the new Prime Minister is elected by Conservative Party members, and assuming there isn’t a general election in the autumn, as well as what happens to tuition fees in the short-term, the past may not be a guide to the future. Nevertheless, this blog will try and made some inferences from the data as it currently stands.

Overall applications are down on last year. The current total of 32,720 applicants is some 490 below the figure for June 2018. Perhaps of most concern is the decline in ‘placed’ applicants in London and the South East, where the figure is down from 900 last year to 710 this year. There has also been a decline in ‘conditionally placed’ numbers in these two regions, although numbers ‘holding offers’ are similar to last year at this point.

There has been a reversal in the recent trend in age profile of applicants, with fewer applicants than last year in all age groups, except for new graduates 21 or under, where the number is up from 4,630 last year to 4,670 this year. ‘Placed’ applicants over the age of 25 are down this year by 130 to some 1,440. In the past, this age group has help keep applicant numbers up as younger applicants have fallen away.

The number of applications are down from both men and women, mostly as a result of fewer applicants being ‘placed’. As degree results are confirmed over the next month or so, the number of ‘placed’ applicants should increase rapidly over the next two months. This is a number that will need watching very carefully.

The data on application status by provider region (Table B6 of the UCAS monthly data) confirms that there needs to be a focus on what is happening in London. Placed numbers are down by 100, and ‘conditionally placed’ by 160, with only those ‘holding offers’ up by 50, for a net change across the three categories of around 200. Application numbers to providers in London are down by around 600. With London schools seeing growth in pupil numbers, and so far in 2019 having advertised 10 vacancies per secondary school ( data) these numbers must be of concern.

So far it is primary courses that have borne the brunt of reduced applications, down from 41,180 in 2018, to 38,880 in 2019, whereas applications for secondary courses are up from 52,530 to 53,250. But, before anyone hangs out the bunting and declares a ‘dance and skylark’, it is worth delving deeper into the statistics for individual subjects. History, English and biology al doing extremely well, and could recruit their largest numbers of trainees in recent years.

On the other hand, art, chemistry, IT, mathematics, music and physics are recording new lows for June in terms of those ‘placed’ and either ‘conditionally placed’ or ‘holding an offer’. Based on the evidence of previous years, none of these subjects will hit the required Teacher Supply Model number in 2019.  That’s bad news for the 2020 recruitment market for teachers.

Has the Auger Report with its suggestion for lower fees already had an effect on recruitment onto UCAS courses for this September? If so, the government must react sooner rather than later to stem any further losses ad protect teacher supply.






Steady as you go is not good enough

Overall applications by mid- April through UCAS were almost exactly the same as at mid-April last year, 25,570 this year, compared with 25,550 in 2018. As a result, there is little new to say. I am aware that there are some that suggest I predict a supply crisis every year, presumably on the basis that I will be correct some years and can forget the others. In fact, during the early years of the economic crisis, I actually stopped writing about teacher supply because there wasn’t an issue and only returned when I felt the tide was turning and government should start to take action.

With two thirds of the current recruitment round now over, I feel able to suggest that the outcome for this recruitment cycle for trainees will be very similar to last year and that will impact on teacher supply in 2020, especially in those parts of England where pupil numbers are on the increase.

So here are my predictions:

There will be an adequate supply of biology, English, geography, history and physical education trainees that will match or surpass the numbers the government think are needed.

Modern Languages, design and technology and chemistry trainee numbers are better than last year, but unlikely to be enough to meet government projections of need.

Business Studies, IT and computing, mathematics, music, physics and art will not recruit enough trainees to meet the projected levels of need identified by the government’s Teacher Supply Model.

There are likely to be enough primary trainees to satisfy the demand even if recruitment of trainees is challenging in some parts of the country.

Of the 40,560 applications for places on secondary training courses so far recorded this year, only 2,540 have been for School Direct Salaried scheme places, and there have only been 290 offers, with just 20 actually shown as ‘placed’. The apprenticeship scheme has not taken off in the secondary sector. Higher Education still accounts for almost 50% of applications for secondary places, although its grip on primary is slightly lower. This is somewhat curious given the nature of the course to train to be a primary teachers as a graduate. It leads me to worry about the skills in mathematics and English that can be taught to such trainees let alone their knowledge development of creative and other subjects. But, perhaps there are many classroom assistants converting to become teachers in the primary total of 32,250 applicants.

Of the 7,350 men that have applied to courses in England, almost two thirds have been offered a place.  The percentage for the younger age groups is even higher, with almost three quarters of those age 21 offered a place. However, that percentage is still lower than the 84% of women in this age group that have been offered a place this year.

There is still time to recruit more trainees in the remaining four months before courses start. There is also the contribution from Teach First whose applicants are not included in these figures. Perhaps that Scheme is having a better year than last year.


Apocalypse Soon?

Recently BBC Television has been running a series about films and their music. One of the trailers was from Apocalypse Now and showed the choppers scything through the sky on their way to attack Viet Cong positions to the accompaniment of the music of Richard Wagner. Interestingly, according to his wife, the current Secretary of State for Education is a big Wagner fan. However, it is, perhaps, a coincidence that the Wagnerian sense of the end of the world that is so often conveyed by the use of the term Gotterdammerung might just now be applied to what seems to be happening in the world of teacher training.

In my last post on the topic of teacher supply I promised not to write about this issue again until the time of the ITT census in November and, in terms of reviewing the 2013 round, I hope to stick to that resolution. However, the world moves on apace, and the next four weeks will be of vital importance for the future shape of teacher training in England. Bids for 2014 control numbers, as targets are now called, will be collated from a “snapshot” taken by the NCSL on the 11th October. It is rumoured that the outcome will be presented to Ministers on the 14th October. Certainly, schools requesting School Direct places had to have notified the NCSL of initial requests by the 23rd September. Other providers, although they weren’t given a deadline in the recently published methodology document, would have been well advised to have made bids by now, even though final re-worked targets won’t be available until early in 2014, and changes by anyone allocated any sort of place can be made right up until the start of August 2014.

Although the NCTL announced that allocations would be published in November; it is difficult to see how, if the Select Committee hold another evidence session with the Minister in late October, the figures won’t, at least at the headline level, be in the public domain by then.

The key issue is whether the “control numbers” represent a realistic expectation of the number of training places needed in each phase, and secondary subject. In Physics and Mathematics, where there is to be no restriction on recruitment, this is not a factor, but anything could happen.

If schools bid for more than the 9,500 School Direct places of 2013 in the 2014 round (minus the 1,640 Mathematics and Physics places that are uncapped making 7,860 bids within the secondary control envelope), and that envelope is not increased, then that leaves less than 4,000 places for other providers including higher education. As SCITTs and other non-higher education providers accounted for around 900 “control envelope” secondary places in 2013 (excluding Mathematics and Physics), and might be expected to bid for more for 2014, that could leave as few as 3,000 places available for higher education across all subjects within the envelope. If the “control envelope” doesn’t increase at the same rate as bids from schools for School Direct then even the 3,000 places might be generous.

After allowing for the guarantee to ‘outstanding’ providers from the Secretary of State that he issued in June, it is difficult to see how the denominational promise is going to be satisfied in secondary and if it is, whether there will be any places left for providers not judged ‘outstanding’. Apocalypse Soon could then become Apocalypse Now and an apt description of what could well happen to teacher education in higher education over the period between now and Christmas.