Schools

DfE misses secondary teacher recruitment target by over 40%

'Catastrophic' ITT recruitment data also shows primary target was missed by 7% for this year

'Catastrophic' ITT recruitment data also shows primary target was missed by 7% for this year

The government has missed its secondary ITT teacher recruitment targets for nine of the last 10 years

The government missed its target for recruitment of new secondary school teachers by 41 per cent this year, and also recruited fewer primary teachers than needed.

The latest initial teacher training census statistics published by the Department for Education on Thursday show that only 59 per cent of the secondary target was met in 2022-23. This is down from 79 per cent last year.

Against a target of 20,945 postgraduate secondary trainees, the government recruited just 12,356. It marks the ninth in the last 10 years that the target has been missed.

It follows repeated warnings about a growing recruitment and retention crisis, in the face of worsening school staff wellbeing and below-inflation pay rises.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, said the figures were “nothing short of catastrophic”.

“Teacher shortages are already at crisis point and such a substantial shortfall in recruiting trainees means this situation will become even worse.”

Primary targets also missed in ‘catastrophic’ year

The government also also missed its target for primary trainees by 7 per cent, recruiting just 93 per cent of those needed.

This is down from 131 per cent last year. Of a targeted 11,655 new postgraduate primary trainees, 10,868 were recruited. This is the first time since 2019 the primary target has been missed.

Overall, it means the target for postgraduate ITT recruitment across all phases was missed by 29 per cent, with 23,224 out of a targeted 32,600 trainees recruited. Numbers fell by 23 per cent on last year.

Recruitment against targets across all phases was the lowest this year since at least 2015.

17% of necessary physics teachers recruited

Physics has taken the biggest hit, with just 17 per cent of the teachers needed recruited. The DfE’s target was 2,610. It recruited just 444.

Recruitment was also very low in design and technology (25 per cent) and computing (30 per cent).

Recruitment in modern foreign languages fell from 69 per cent of the target last year to just 34 per cent this year.

Of a targeted 2,140 languages trainees, only 726 were actually recruited. For computing, 348 out of a targeted 1,145 trainees were recruited.

The figures do come in the context of changing targets. The DfE reduced its targets in subjects like maths, chemistry, business studies and music, but raised them in languages, design and technology and computing.

STEM subjects face a particular teacher black hole, with targets missed by 46 per cent.

A total of 1,844 new maths teachers were recruited – 90 per cent of the government’s original target. Targets for chemistry and biology were also missed by 14 per cent and 15 per cent respectively.  

The government also only recruited 62 per cent of its target in EBacc subjects.

Barton said a “key cause of this crisis is the long-term erosion of teacher pay which has fallen in real-terms by a fifth since 2010 making it uncompetitive in the graduate market place”.

“This is compounded by the government’s underfunding of schools which has driven up workload and made the profession less attractive. The government has to recognise and address these pressures instead of constantly burying its head in the sand.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We understand that teacher recruitment is challenging, which is why we have taken action to raise the profile of this important and prestigious profession.

“For teacher trainees in 2023, bursaries worth up to £27,000 and scholarships worth up to £29,000 to in key subjects such as chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics are available. We also remain committed to raising the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 next year.”

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