The number of applicants for teacher training courses has continued to fall with new figures showing a drop of more than 4,500 compared to last year.
Latest figures from UCAS, released yesterday, show the number of applicants in England went down from 38,350 in May last year to 33,730 in the same period this year – a fall of 12 per cent.
Schools Week reported last month that UCAS’ monthly statistics showed there were 5,260 fewer people applying for places in April, so the fall has narrowed slightly.
Regions struggling the most with applications include the South West, North East, Yorkshire and the Humber and London, all seeing a fall in applications between almost 15 per cent to 12 per cent, respectively.
The East Midlands has seen the smallest drop, overall, down 9.12 per cent on last May.
Professor John Howson said: “Unless far more applicants can be converted into trainees in the period between May and the start of courses in the autumn than was the case last year, the training shortfall in the secondary sector is heading into a third year of under-recruitment against need.
“This begs the question of what happens to those shortfalls in reality. Returners or overseas teachers are the obvious alternatives along with re-designing the timetable to reduce teaching time in shortage subjects or ask less well qualified teachers to step into the breach and hope that Ofsted doesn’t come calling.”
Almost 500,000 school places are needed in the coming years – increasing the demand for teachers.
The Department for Education (DfE) however said “good progress” was being made in secondary recruitment.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We’re pleased that these figures show that we are on course to exceed our recruitment target for primary trainee teachers. We are also making good progress in secondary recruitment. The teacher vacancy rate has remained stable at around 1 per cent for the past 15 years and there are now more teachers in England’s classrooms than ever before.
“But we are not complacent, as the economy improves we have to do more to ensure we continue to see the best graduates entering teaching.
“Our recruitment campaign Your Future Their Future, has seen registrations to our “Get Into Teaching” website up 32 per cent compared to last year. In addition we continue to offer bursaries of up to £25,000 plus scholarships in priority subjects, and recently announced a £67 million package to transform science, technology, engineering and maths teaching in England and recruit up to 2,500 additional maths and physics teachers.”