Teacher shortage fears deepen as almost one in five secondary trainee places go unfilled

Almost one in five secondary teacher training places for September 2015 have not been filled, government statistics released today reveal.

Just 82 per cent of secondary places have been taken up, compared to 94 per cent of secondary places last year – exacerbating concerns about teacher shortages.

There has been an overall rise in the number of trainees this year, but demands for more teachers to meet a growing student population and changes in the curriculum mean that this year’s targets have only been reached in three secondary subjects: history, English and PE.

And on non-Ebac courses less than two-thirds (64 per cent) of the number of trainees required have been recruited – with design and technology being hardest hit, taking on just 41 per cent of trainees needed.

But targets in maths (93 per cent), languages (87 per cent), science (85 per cent), geography (83 per cent) and computing (70 per cent) have been missed.

The shortfall comes despite a rise in the number of people starting postgraduate teacher training courses this year.

The initial teacher training census shows 28,148 trainees have started courses, or are due to start shortly. This includes 1,584 Teach First trainees, who have been included in the figures for the first time. This compares to 25,753 postgraduate trainees last year.

Primary courses have over-recruited, with 13,034 trainees taken on compared to a target of 11,245. But this comes after under-recruitment in every year since 2010.

The new figures will deepen fears that the teacher supply crisis will worsen in the coming years.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said: “Recruitment to secondary programmes is becoming increasingly challenging, and will become more so as pupil numbers go up.

“Although primary targets have been met, we remain concerned that the teacher supply model is under-estimating the number of new primary teachers that schools actually need.

“In challenging times such as this, the government must take care to maintain the teacher supply base provided by university/school partnerships on which schools depend. Uncertainty, and the potential chaos linked to the new recruitment methodology, are not helping with this. The government needs to exercise caution in its teacher education reforms, just in case they make a bad situation worse’.”

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