Just half of secondary teacher recruitment target met

The secondary target has been missed 10 out of the last 11 years

The secondary target has been missed 10 out of the last 11 years

The government has missed its target for secondary teacher recruitment by 50 per cent this year, new data shows.

Initial teacher training census statistics published this morning also show that the primary target was missed by 4 per cent.

Overall, the total target for recruitment to teacher training for both primary and secondary was missed by 38 per cent.

Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton

In total there were 26,955 new entrants to ITT in 2023-24 compared to 28,463 in 2022-23, 36,159 in 2021-22 and 40,377 in 2020-21.

The picture is worse for secondary than last year, when 57 per cent of the required secondary teachers were recruited. However, it is slightly better for primary, for which 91 per cent of the target was met in 2022-23.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the ASCL school leaders’ union, said the “catastrophic shortfall in postgraduate trainee teacher recruitment has plumbed new depths”.

“The supply of new teachers is simply not sufficient to meet the needs of the education system, and we then lose far too many early in their careers.”

Recruitment drops in maths and English

Today’s data shows recruitment in physics, which has been one of the worst-affected subjects during the current crisis, improved by just 1 percentage point, with just 17 per cent of the target reached this year.

And just 63 per cent of the required maths teachers were recruited, down from 88 per cent last year.

Seventy-four per cent of the English target was missed, down from 82 per cent, and the proportion of the chemistry target met fell from 83 to 65 per cent.

There were also big drops in the proportion of the target missed in drama (111 to 79 per cent), art and design (88 to 44 per cent), religious education (75 to 44 per cent) and music (62 to 27 per cent).

In a comment, a DfE spokesperson did not touch on the missed targets, focusing only on the few subjects where recruitment had seen a boost, including biology and computing.

They even hailed recruitment in physics, where just 17 per cent of the teachers needed were hired.

They said the government was “taking the long-term decisions to build up incentives, cut workload, and increase the routes into the teaching profession”.

“We are boosting our recruitment incentives with special bonuses of up to £30,000 after-tax over the first five years of their career for those who teach key subjects.”

Targets met in just three subjects

Targets were only met in classics, for which almost double the number of the required teachers were recruited, PE, for which 181 per cent of the target was met, and history, where 119 per cent of the teachers needed were hired.

Source: Jack Worth, NFER

Jack Worth, school workforce lead at the National Foundation for Educational Research, said the “dire” data “confirms that teacher supply is a critical issue facing England’s education system”.

“The shortfalls being so universal – 15 out of 18 secondary subjects missing their targets and not just in the usual shortage subjects – should be of enormous concern to policymakers.”

He called for “urgent and radical action to improve the attractiveness of teaching as a profession to enter and remain, by enhancing bursaries and other financial incentives, reducing workload and improving the competitiveness of teachers’ pay”.

James Noble-Rogers, chief executive of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said the figures made for “sorry reading”.

“They mean that schools, particularly secondary schools, will struggle to recruit the new teachers they need.

“The government needs, as a matter of urgency, to bring together all relevant stakeholders to agree a cohesive and fully funded strategy to recruit and retain teachers.”

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  1. Anyone else seen the data refers to enrollment in ITT. How many of those drop out before July? These numbers are probably far higher than we even get coming into the profession fully qualified.

    • gavin hester

      Me too. My school closed in 2008 and I was Head of Humanities. Had to spend 5 years covering as Head of Department in various schools covering maternity. Was invited to interviews as a token candidate knowing that I was 10K more expensive than all the other candidates who were NQTs. In the end I gave up and moved abroad. Here you are valued on your experience and professionalism and not by finances.