Teacher recruitment faces a crisis, claims think-tank

10 Apr 08
Teaching is heading for another recruitment crisis, according to claims from a Right-of-centre think-tank.

11 April 2008

Teaching is heading for another recruitment crisis, according to claims from a Right-of-centre think-tank.

Policy Exchange this week said the relatively successful efforts to encourage people into teaching had created a culture of complacency, which could be fuelling future problems.

An analysis conducted for Policy Exchange Education Data Surveys revealed that applications for secondary teacher training are falling again, particularly in key shortage areas. By February this year there had been just 896 applications for maths teaching, compared with 1,125 in 2006.

Researcher Professor John Howson predicted that recruitment targets for maths, science, foreign languages, geography and information technology would be missed.

Sam Freedman, head of Policy Exchange's education unit, said: 'There are a number of possible reasons for this decline, including the impact of higher student debt, concerns about getting after-training and the strength of the graduate labour market. But, most importantly, the supply going forward depends upon the view of teaching as a career among potential entrants to the profession.'

Howson also warned that teaching numbers in the primary sector needed to increase by 18,000 over the next five years to cope with a primary school-age population that is set to rise by 500,000 by 2015.

But the Training and Development Agency for Schools disputed the findings. Graham Holley, TDA chief executive, said: 'TDA figures from last year showed the number of trainee science teachers had reached more than 3,000 for the first time, with significant increases in the number of those choosing physics, chemistry and biology initial teacher training courses.'

He added that the agency was also working hard to attract maths graduates into teaching and that, overall, trainee teacher numbers were on target.

The world of teaching was rocked last week by the sudden death of National Union of Teachers general secretary Steve Sinnott. Sinnott died on April 5 at the age of 56, almost four years after he took over as leader of the teaching union.

An NUT spokeswoman said staff at the union's headquarters were 'very upset' but that the strike action planned for April 24 would go ahead as planned.

She added that a timetable for electing a new general secretary would be agreed when the NUT's executive met in May.


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