Loss of bursaries could be to blame, say academics

English and Welsh schools are facing a teacher supply crisis after a major drop in the number of people hoping to enter the profession, universities have warned.

The latest statistics from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry, obtained by The TES, show a 13 per cent decline in the numbers applying to train as secondary school teachers.

In January, when figures showed secondary applications were down by 9.3 per cent, experts warned that the Government was “sleepwalking into a crisis”.

Academics say the decision to scrap bursaries earlier this year could be putting people off studying for a PGCE. Grants worth £4,000 to £6,000 for those training in religious studies, music, PE, art, business studies, citizenship, history, dance and drama have been axed.

Only those training in physics, chemistry, engineering and maths will get the full £9,000 bursary. Biology, general science and modern foreign language trainees will receive £6,000.

In England, the number of people applying to secondary courses has fallen from 27,065 in May 2010 to 23,651 in May 2011 - a decline of 12.6 per cent.
The number of primary applicants has risen from 22,517 to 23,164, up by 2.9 per cent. Overall, applications are down by 5.6 per cent.

In Wales, the number of people applying to train as teachers is down by 14.6 per cent.

The overall number of secondary training places has been cut by 13 per cent this year, but places for maths have remained steady and those for physics and chemistry have increased, prompting fears of a particularly severe shortage in these subjects.

James Noble Rogers, executive director of the Universities’ Council for the Education of Teachers (UCET), said the downturn was “worrying”.

“In recent years we have been buoyed by the recession, which has led more people to apply to teaching, so it’s concerning that it looks like we will now have teacher supply problems,” he said.

“It shows the Government is paying for the impact of cutting bursaries."

A TDA spokesman said: “The TDA’s aim is to make sure we recruit the best applicants in line with the Government’s target number of ITT (initial teacher training) places - not to generate the maximum number of applications.

“This year’s target for secondary ITT is lower than last year. While applications are also lower, we are pleased that the proportion of applications per training place is higher.”

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