10 ways to boost the number of maths and physics teachers

Paying off student loans and higher pay are two of the ideas to boost the numbers of maths and physics teachers suggested by headteachers today.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has released its top 10 ideas for increasing the number of teachers in the shortage subjects in response to current problems and government predictions that the numbers of maths teachers will need to rise further as more students take the subject to 18.

The suggestions have come from a questionnaire completed by around 500 ASCL members. The ideas, in order of preference, are:

  1. For government: Pay off student loans, or offer partial student loan relief, for maths and physics graduates who become teachers, with payments linked to length of service.
  2. For government: Increase the number of salaried training places in schools for maths and physics teachers.
  3. For government: Work with universities to develop maths and physics degrees which incorporate Qualified Teacher Status and teaching placements into degree.
  4. For government: Increase pay levels for maths and physics teachers, funded by government.
  5. For the profession: Encourage more students to study maths and physics at A level.
  6. For government: Work with universities to create new four-year courses in maths, which incorporate a foundation year for those who did not do maths A level.
  7. For government and the profession: Offer teachers in other subjects the chance to retrain as maths and physics teachers.
  8. For government and the profession: Aim more targeted marketing about careers in teaching at maths and physics undergraduates.
  9. For government: Talk to the national network of maths hubs about what they need to enable them to recruit more teachers.
  10. For the profession: Give A level maths and physics pupils teaching experience by involving them in teaching younger pupils.

Just 71 per cent of postgraduate teacher training places in physics were filled in September 2015 and and 93 per cent of maths places.

The ASCL has estimated that four years of under-recruitment to maths and three years of under-recruitment to science, means a shortfall of 1,700 prospective new teachers in those subjects.

Allan Foulds, ASCL president, said: “The Conservatives’ manifesto commitment on maths and physics teacher recruitment is very ambitious and we are putting forward these suggestions to provide some practical ideas in the spirit of being helpful and constructive.

“This is a really challenging issue. It is already very difficult to recruit maths and science teachers and it will become significantly harder over the next few years as demand increases because of a big increase in pupil numbers. At the same time, the Government rightly wants to boost maths and physics teaching to ensure the country is internationally competitive.”

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