New teacher employment rate drops, but trainee application surge continues

The proportion of teachers not employed in state schools 16 months after qualifying has risen above one in five, new provisional figures show.

Department for Education Initial Teacher Training Profile statistics estimate that 79 per cent of postgraduate trainees awarded qualified teacher status will be employed in a state-funded school in England within 16 months.

It’s the first time the figure has dropped below 80 per cent – and is down from the 83 per cent recorded in 2016-17.

But there is also some better news for the government’s recent teacher recruitment and retention woes.

New UCAS figures show between June 15 and July 20 there were 91 per cent more applications to teacher training compared to the same period last year.

It continues a surge seen in previous months – meaning that up to July 20, teacher training applications were 15 per cent up on this time last year. It also appears the rise includes shortage subjects, too.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson said teaching has “always been an attractive career but it’s good to see a continued surge in the number of people looking to enter the classroom”.

Today’s ITT profile figures also show the number of final year postgraduate trainees in 2018-19 is up four per cent compared to 2017-18.

But the continued drop in employment rates will be a cause for concern.

In 2016-17, 20,433 new teachers (83 per cent) were working in the state-sector withing 16 months of qualifying. It was the first year this measure was recorded, as it previously included those teaching in private schools and abroad.

The outlook for 2017-18 was estimated as 81 per cent, but then later confirmed as 80 per cent. Today’s estimate for 2018-19 shows that 20,795 new teachers will be employed in a state-funded school within 16 months – 79 per cent of those awarded QTS.

The government has used provisional figures to estimate for 2018-19 as it’s too early in the reporting cycle to capture everyone employed in a state school. But revised figures will be calculated following the collection of the November 2020 school workforce census data.

It follows concerns of “bursary tourism” after Schools Week revealed at least £14 million had been spent on bursaries for graduates in shortage subjects who then left the classroom.

Provisional employment rates were 83% for those on a school-led route compared to 74% for those on a Higher Education Institution (HEI) route.

The government has pledged to boost new teacher starting salaries to £30,000 by 2022, but has faced criticism for offering smaller pay increases to experienced teachers. One union said it felt like a “kick in the teeth” that “won’t help keep long-serving teachers in the profession”.