Career-changers are fuelling a rise in the number of applicants to teacher training courses, with the latest statistics from UCAS showing a 2 per cent increase in the number of people applying for initial teacher training to start in September this year, taking numbers to a three-year high.
Overall, 38,520 people have applied for initital teaching training courses since last September, compared with 37,610 this time last year, and 38,350 in 2014.
More than 5,500 of this year’s hopefuls are over 30 and classed as career-changers – an increase of 27 per cent on this time last year – and applications for secondary places are up 20 per cent.
Professor John Howson, a teacher supply expert (pictured), said the numbers were “slightly better than last year and slightly better than the year before that”.
He believed this could be due to a slowing in the economy, which attracted people changing career.
“However, in the key subjects such as physics, maths, chemistry and design and technology we are not going to hit the teacher supply model targets.”
Education charity Teach First launched a recruitment drive in January to encourage career-changers to teaching. A TV advert was specifically aimed at young professionals and contrasted a drab office job with a “joyful” teaching career.
In March, Jonathan Simons, head of education at Policy Exchange, also said in a report on teacher supply that more effort was needed to encourage career-changers and their “untapped potential”.
“There is huge importance and value in teachers developing their craft and expertise over many years, and this is likely to still make up the majority of the profession. But a healthy mix of career teachers and those who bring outside skills and experience to the classroom can benefit the whole school,” he said.
But Howson said numbers did not always translate into guaranteed places. “There is always a risk that something is going to go wrong,” he said.
The number with conditional offers – meaning they have to meet certain targets before they can take their place on a course – has risen by 16 per cent for this September.
The number of applicants from outside the UK, both EU and non-EU, has also increased by more than 20 per cent. It is not clear how this would be affected if Britain votes to leave the EU later this month.
Subjects, such as French, have almost doubled their applicants – from 440 last year to 790 this year. But there has been decreases in others, such as ICT, with a 75 per cent dip from 80 applications to 20.
A Department for Education spokesperson said the figures showed teaching was “a hugely desirable profession” and “refutes the negativity from those who talk the profession down”.
He added: “With three months still to go we have recruited in excess of our postgraduate targets in primary and in several secondary subjects.
“And we are making significant progress in science, technology, engineering and maths, having recruited more than at this point last year in most subjects.”