Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Friday, 20 November 2009

Trainee teacher targets exceeded

trainee teachers
Incentives for trainees remain but are cut in most subjects

The number of people joining teacher training courses in England this year exceeded government targets for the first time, even in maths.

The Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) said it met or exceeded recruitment targets in every area.

Such are the quality and quantity of recruits, due in part to the recession, that it is cutting the bursaries in a range of subjects.

The agency called this a proportionate response to the strength of the market.

"For the first time ever, the target for the number of maths teachers has been comfortably beaten," the TDA said.

We have been able to capitalise on the upsurge in interest in teaching only because of all the work we undertook beforehand and the swift targeted interventions that we made
Graham Holley
TDA chief executive

There are 2,897 trainee maths teachers this year, 8% above the target.

This is particularly significant. The TDA's rule of thumb is that even if it recruited every single university maths graduate in any give year, it would not have enough trainee teachers.

So it has to rely on career changers and made prominent efforts, as the credit crunch bit, to persuade former City workers to consider teaching.

'Swift interventions'

TDA chief executive Graham Holley said: "Considering that we have not met the challenging maths target alone before, this is a monumental achievement.

"The recession has, of course, played a part in these excellent results.

"But we have been able to capitalise on the upsurge in interest in teaching only because of all the work we undertook beforehand and the swift targeted interventions that we made in London and throughout the country."

The numbers studying science teaching are 3,701 or 9% over target.

Such is the difficulty of attracting good people that the TDA is retaining the £9,000 bursaries for training to teach maths, chemistry, physics, design and technology, engineering and information and communications technology (ICT).

But it is cutting from £9,000 to £6,000 the incentives for biology and combined or general science teachers, and for those studying modern languages, music and religious education.

Better degrees

The bursaries for art and design, business studies, citizenship, dance and drama, history, physical education and a range of other smaller secondary subjects are being cut from £6,000 to £4,000.

A spokesman called the change in bursary rates "a proportionate response" to the market.

"It would be irresponsible not to adjust incentive payments in subjects which are clearly so popular, and so offer the best value for public investment in teacher training."

The TDA said the quality of the teaching workforce - which has been criticised by the Conservative Party - was also improving.

The percentage of trainees with a 2:1 or better UK degree was up by about five percentage points from 56% to 61% for primary school teaching and from 53% to 58% for secondary, compared with last year.

The Tories have said a 2:2 degree would become the minimum for all teachers.

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