Teacher training applicants down on 2014 figures, UCAS figures show

The number of recruits to teacher training programmes are more than 5,000 down in comparison to this time last year, UCAS figures show.

And subjects such as business studies, English, geography and maths are facing teacher shortages, according to research by one expert.

Professor John Howson, who runs job website TeachVac, said London and surrounding areas such as the south east and the east of England are facing a fast-approaching crisis, with almost four teaching vacancies per school in the capital.

This is heading rapidly towards 2002 figures when London schools were at their worst crisis in recent history.

UCAS figures for April 2015, show there were 5,260 fewer people applying for teacher training positions than there was in the same month last year.

Using government projections for initial teacher training places against number of jobs advertised, Prof Howson predicts subjects such as business studies facing a shortage.

He said: “At the other end of the scale, there seems to be a shortage of vacancies for physical education teachers. This is a subject that regularly over-recruits on training targets. If, because of over recruitment, some students have acquired extra tuition fee debt, but little chance of securing a teaching post, thought should be given to reducing recruitment next year.”

Professor Chris Husbands, director of the Institute of Education, said an extra 490,000 school places are needed over the next few years, which increases the demand for teachers.

He said this, mixed with the pressures on graduate recruitment as the economy recovers, was a “developing crisis”.

Prof Husbands said: “Without teachers, you can more or less give up on any education reform you care to think of.”

He said plans to teach maths and English up to the age of 18 came with its own problems. He said: “The idea… is excellent, but, you need maths and English teachers to do it.

“The Conservative party manifesto promises 17,500 extra maths and science teachers over the next parliament. That is excellent and at face value looks like a 100 per cent increase.

“Where these are going to come from is, of course, a different matter. I’m not making a party political point here: it is a point about politicians’ promises.

“And, School Direct has been a nightmare, really. We had a pretty good teacher supply system – we have not had to send children home for 15 years for lack of teachers. It was centrally planned and a bit clunky and not ideal, but it largely worked.

“In the 2011 education act the government abolished the responsibility of the secretary of state to secure sufficient teacher supply, and the transfer of places from HE, which generally filled about 85 per cent of its places, to School Direct, which has filled at most about 60 per cent of places, has seen a further problem.”

James Darley, Teach First’s head of recruitment, said applications are down this year by about 20 per cent. Last year, they had 1,426 hires from a pool of 9,047 applicants, while this year Teach First expects about 8,000 applicants and will hire 1,725 people.

He said: “Applications are down, but the flip side is that quality is up. I have worked in graduate recruitment for 17 years and with Teach First for 11 years and it is going to be very hard over the next few years to get graduates into teaching.”

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


  1. Andrew Stanley

    There will inevitably be a teacher supply crisis. In addition to the factors cited, another may well be an unintended consequence of the EBacc and Progress8 measures. If your subject isn’t on the ‘approved’ list, why would you risk more debt to train for what might be deemed low status and disposable? The plans for more Maths and Physics teachers are also likely to fail as STEM graduates are eminently employable elsewhere – anticipating the problem, the finance sector is already snapping up potential graduates after A Levels for Degree level apprenticeships. One other thing to keep an eye on, will be the cancelling of Further Maths and Physics A Level groups, as schools, especially all the academies that set up small sixth forms, grapple with 16-19 funding cuts alongside the pension contribution gap.

  2. Very scary statistics here – not helped by unrealistic teaching expectations driven by OFSTED which leads to rapid turnover/teachers leaving profession.
    Also not surprising to see TF numbers down (I make it 12% not 20% btw) in economic recovery but they don’t help themselves – was in Newcastle Uni recently and their recruitment material was all about someone who got a job with Aldi after TF!

  3. David-Paul Newton-Scott

    I have been trying for years to get any of the schools I have worked at to put me through the Assessment Only Route to QTS beating my head against a brick wall. Schools are happy to moan about the problem but will not lift a finger to do anything about it. During the recession they could just reach out and grab another one, this ones split pass me another teacher, utter contempt for those of us who are passionate about teaching and actually care about the kids. Well the times they are a changing get on with it.

  4. Mrs J Brown

    A question for you. My daughter was expecting to start a Primary PGCE Course this September. After an appeal for noisy test conditions at a test centre was not accepted as a reason for her being two questions short for her numeracy test and everything else completed, she was told she would have to wait two further years to apply again. You can understand her deep disappointment at having to wait a further two years. Her desire to start her teaching career must have felt like a severe penalty. Do you think re-application for a PGCE course should be available to graduates for the following year and not for two whole years?