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Tuesday, 16 January, 2001, 00:10 GMT
Teacher applications 'up by 10%'
classroom
Primary school applications have risen by 13%
There has been a 10% increase in postgraduate applications for teaching, compared with last year, according to university admissions figures.

This rise in applications is in contrast to figures earlier this month from the same official body showing a 16% downturn in applications.

Finding more teachers
10% more applications than last year
13% increase in primary
4% increase in secondary
9% fall in French
4% fall in maths
34% increase in chemistry
19% increase in physics

Under pressure over teacher shortages, the government will welcome such positive signs that its recruitment policies are working, particularly as these figures pre-date the launch of its television advertising campaign.

But these are only the latest running totals for this year's applications, and any further fluctuations will be monitored closely in the months running up to the next general election.

The latest figures from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry, which show applications for postgraduate teacher training courses beginning in September, are claimed as more "complete" than earlier figures and a "useful early indicator" of the likely annual total.

Shortage subjects

According to a spokesperson for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, which runs the registry, the previous figures were distorted by delays in the Christmas post and disruptions to processing applications over the holiday period.

The revised figure shows there were 17,709 applications up to 15 December 2000, which is the deadline for applications for primary teacher training postgraduate courses.

But included in the overall increase are indications that problems for specific subjects are set to continue, including those which offer students 4,000 "golden hellos" as recruitment incentives.

There was another fall in applications to teach maths, down by 4%, and a larger decline, 9% for French.

Chemistry and biology more popular

But problems with finding science teachers might be easing, with an increase of 34% in applications to teach chemistry and 19% for biology.

There were also large increases for teaching information technology and business studies - and fewer applications for history, geography and English.

The government, which has rejected claims of a recruitment crisis, says that higher pay and a training salary will attract more students into teacher training.

But teachers' unions and opposition parties have continued to accuse the government of failing to achieve a sufficient supply of teachers to meet the demand.

Suspicions

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats reacted to the new statistics with suspicion.

"The public have a right to know whether the new statistics were produced at the request of the government," said the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, Phil Willis.

"The fact that the GTTR not only issued ad hoc figures but took the unprecedented step of issuing their first ever press release praising government initiatives - right in the middle of a political storm - merely adds to the impression of collusion."

Mr Willis said he had written to the education secretary and to the Ucas chief executive demanding an explanation.

The shadow education secretary, Theresa May, said: "Two weeks ago these figures showed a 16% fall. What are we to believe?"

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See also:

05 Jan 01 | Education
Another school shut by shortages
13 Jan 01 | Correspondents
Truth about teacher shortages
04 Jan 01 | Education
Teacher training applications fall
18 Dec 00 | Education
Rise in teacher numbers
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