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Teacher shortage fears as figures warn of under-recruitment in key areas

27 November 2014 | last updated: 10 December 2015

Universities performing best at recruiting trainee teachers according to new government data

Schools across England are at risk of teacher shortages in key subject areas, according to government figures release today (Thursday).

The figures show that there was a fall in the targeted number of places filled from 95% to 93% between 2013/14 and 2014/15. However, just 91% of targeted secondary school places were met, representing a fifth consecutive fall in the number of people training to be secondary teachers.

When it comes to training teachers, the figures suggest that higher education institutions (HEIs) are leading the way, despite government cuts. HEIs recruited 20,774 teachers filling 90% of their allocated places. School Direct filled just six out of 10 (61%) of its allocated places and recruited 9,232 teachers.

While HEIs in England have lost teacher training places, the School Direct programme has expanded from 350 places in 2012/2013 to over 9,000 in 2014/2015.

UCU said that significant under-recruitment, particularly in secondary schools, could lead to more serious long-term shortages of qualified teachers. It urged the government to look again at the success of university teacher training departments.

Only five subjects - art, history, English, physical education and chemistry - recruited enough new teachers. The other sciences under-recruited with just 67% of the targeted places for physics teachers being filled and 85% for biology. Mathematics fared a little better with 88% of the targeted places filled. Just 44% of the targeted number of design and technology teachers were recruited.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'These new figures are deeply concerning for schools and parents. We have seen another fall in the number of people training to be secondary school teachers and there are shortages in most subject areas.

'The government needs to learn lessons from universities where recruitment figures are best. University teacher training departments are key to producing a high-quality and flexible workforce at a time when there is a growing demand for more teachers.'

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