Teach First has reopened its teacher training programme amid a “challenging year” for recruitment and unprecedented demand from schools.
The charity is piloting a new autumn institute on top of its usual summer training so students do not have to wait until 2023 to sign up.
It has had 3,500 requests from schools wanting to hire a Teach First trainee, which is “more than ever before” and 25 per cent higher than previous records.
A spokesperson said it had been a “challenging year for all routes” into teaching, but refused to say how many trainees were so far recruited for the summer institute.
They added many students wanted to focus on finishing their exams and “enjoy the end of their time at university” during the typical summer application period.
Teach First has a £113 million, six-year government contract to deliver initial teacher training for high-flying graduates.
It said no additional funding had been agreed with the Department for Education for the autumn run – suggesting it has not hit its targets this year.
In 2019, it recruited a record-breaking 1,735 trainees, a 38 per cent rise in a year.
James Noble-Rogers, the executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, welcomed the move, but said it must lead to a net increase in recruitment without “simply diverting applicants away from other programmes”.
He said the council would be concerned if it “poached” students with places at universities or school-based trainers. However, Teach First’s website says that those with a PGCE place cannot apply.
Emma Hollis, the executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT), said Teach First’s move was not “unusual”. “Many providers recruit right through the summer and there are a few who offer multiple start dates. In a year where recruitment is especially challenging this seems like a sensible move.”
A study by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) in March found the DfE is likely to miss initial teacher training recruitment targets in shortage subjects over the next four years.
Faye Craster, Teach First’s director of teacher development, said “so many” schools would not have enough teachers in September “particularly in priority subjects such as science, maths and computing”.
NFER analysis of postgraduate recruitment figures shows that applications in June were down 7 per cent on 2019 for secondary school subjects. Placements – where a student has accepted an offer – dropped 18 per cent.
But Jack Worth, the foundation’s education economist, said it could “mask big variations” between subjects.
“We are still projected to be running behind target in most subjects.”
Worth estimates that only 17 per cent of the required physics teachers will be recruited by September, 25 per cent for design and technology and 30 per cent for computing.
This compares to 210 per cent of classics teachers needed, 200 per cent for physical education and 210 per cent for classics.
The application window for the Teach First autumn round closes on July 28, with training beginning on September 12.
Trainees will be in classrooms by the end of October and become members of Teach First’s 2022 cohort.