Massive hikes in training bursaries for maths and science teachers have coincided with significant drops in the enrolment of eligible trainees, a new TES analysis has found.
The Department for Education has made the bursaries – worth up to £30,000 a year from 2016-17 – a centrepiece of its response to teacher shortages. But the department’s own figures suggest that they are having, at best, a limited impact.
Maths and science numbers don’t add up
Despite a near tripling in the value of bursaries, there has been a 16 per cent drop in the number science trainees on courses eligible for the money – and a 15 per cent drop in equivalent maths trainees.
In 2011-12 there were 2,232 maths trainees and 2,732 science trainees. But by 2015-16 these annual figures had fallen to 1,888 and 2,289 respectively.
Teaching recruitment expert Professor John Howson said: “That doesn’t surprise me. The problem is, if you’re a good mathematician or physicist, the world is your oyster and you can get a starting salary over £30,000 within a year after university.”
Raising the status of the profession
The TES analysis has also revealed that the regional differences in recruitment for teacher training – which the National Audit Office has warned that the DfE has no systemic knowledge of – have widened over the last two years.
A DfE spokesperson said: “It is disingenuous to suggest that our approach is not working – despite the challenge of a competitive jobs market, the proportion of trainee teachers with a top degree has grown, faster than in the population as a whole, and there are more teachers overall.
“But we are determined to continue raising the status of the profession. That’s why we’re investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment and backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to get great teachers where they are most needed.”
This is an edited article from the 19 February edition of TES. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week’s TES magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here