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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 4 April, 2001, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
'Shortage subjects' attract graduates
teacher and pupils
There was a 20% increase in primary applications
The number of graduates who applied for UK-based teacher training courses in "shortage subjects" last month has risen compared with figures for March 2000.

Figures released by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR) showed a 126.2% rise in the number applying to train as information technology teachers and a 44.9% rise in design and technology applications.

Increase in applications
Primary 20%
Middle 11.4%
Secondary 25%
Total 22.3%

Source: GTTR
Science also saw increased interest, with a 48.9% rise in applications for chemistry, a 44.9% increase for biology and a rise of 25% for physics.

While the number of applications to train to teach German dipped by 14.4% on last year's figures, Spanish applications were up 79.4% and French up 11.9% - other modern languages were up 19.7%.

Across the board there was a 22.3% increase in the number of graduates applying for training courses at universities and colleges across the UK at primary and secondary level, the GTTR statistics showed.

'Turning the tide'

The Education Secretary, David, Blunkett said the figures showed the government had "turned the tide" in the teacher recruitment battle.

"Teaching is becoming a far more attractive profession. We are opening up and expanding the opportunities for people to enter the profession," Mr Blunkett said.


About half the enquiries now come from people interested in changing from other careers

Ralph Tabberer
But the minister acknowledged that head teachers continued to face problems in recruiting teachers, particularly in some areas of the country, such as London and the south east.

Chief executive of the Teacher Training Agency (TTA), Ralph Tabberer, said the increase in applications and enquiries was encouraging.

The figures showed that 167,482 enquiries had been made since 1 September, Mr Tabberer said.

"About half the enquiries now come from people interested in changing from other careers.

"By September 3,750 people - almost 12% of all trainees - could be following flexible routes, underlining their increasing importance to the overall recruitment programme," Mr Tabberer said.

'Spin'

But the National Union of Teachers said Mr Blunkett was merely putting a "spin" on the statistics.

Its general secretary, Doug McAvoy, said: "Yet again we hear David Blunkett saying that the teacher shortage crisis is over."

The figures only related to applications, not to an actual rise in the number of teachers going into schools, he said.

"David Blunkett is over-optimistic, sadly - it would be better if his optimism was justified rather than just about spin," Mr McAvoy said.

Industrial action by the NUT and the other main classroom union, the NASUWT, has spread to Birmingham.

Members of the unions were 93% in favour of joining the "cover to contract" action over shortages - refusing to cover for vacancies of longer than three days. The turnout was 38%.

See also:

25 Mar 01 | UK Education
16 Jan 01 | UK Education
13 Jan 01 | UK Education
08 Jan 01 | UK Education
19 Dec 00 | UK Education
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