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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 08:33 GMT
Trainee teacher numbers rise
classroom scene
Some schools have been struggling to fill vacancies
More students are being recruited into teacher training in England than at any time in the last seven years - with numbers up 5% on last year.

Secondary school teacher trainees
This year: up 9%
Target: 17,390
Started: 15,912
Shortfall: 8.5%
Source: DfES
But the government is still more than 8% short of its target for recruiting secondary school trainees.

The Education Secretary, Estelle Morris, said the figures should be celebrated but she was not complacent about the work still to be done.

The figures show there were 28,966 trainees on undergraduate and post-graduate courses this term, or due to start them, the highest number since 1994.

But separate research published on Thursday indicates that almost a third of those who finish their training as teachers - 30% - do not go on to work in classrooms.

And the number of teachers resigning England and Wales has doubled in the past two years.

Smaller shortfall

The target for trainees to secondary school subjects this year was 17,390. In the event, 15,912 are beginning courses - a shortfall of 8.5%.

Even this is an improvement, however: Last year the shortfall was 12% and the previous year it was 17%.

We are nowhere near perfection, we have a long way to go

Estelle Morris
For primary school teaching trainees recruitment fell this year by 1% but still exceeded the target by 4%.

The general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, David Hart, said recruitment targets would need to be raised again to reduce class sizes and give teachers adequate time for marking and lesson planning.

"There's still a hell of a long way to go," he said.

Julie Grant, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "Continuing acute shortages in secondary schools translates into overworked teachers and enlarged class sizes in the area of greatest scarcity.

"Unless the government offers some radical solutions to the serious problem of teachers' workload, nothing will stem the growing haemorrhage of good teachers."

The Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Phil Willis, said: "There is one target the government must set itself and that is to provide an adequate supply of well qualified highly motivated teachers for our schools - so far it's performance has been 'bog standard'.

"Estelle Morris should abandon plans to introduce an Education Bill in December and instead appoint a Royal Commission to look urgently at teacher recruitment, pay and conditions of service."

'More attractive'

Before the last election, Labour promised "to recruit at least 10,000 extra teachers".

Estelle Morris:
Estelle Morris: Acknowledges the problems
The government points to the figures as a sign that its efforts to tempt people into training are working.

Ms Morris said the teaching profession was more attractive to graduates now than any time over the last 10 years.

And Ofsted, the education watchdog, believed the new generation of teachers was better than ever, she added.

"We are nowhere near perfection, we have a long way to go but we don't need union leaders whose only words are to talk about problems in the profession," she told the BBC.


People doing the fourth year, post-graduate teacher training course in any subject get a bursary of 6,000 - and do not have to pay tuition fees.

Those who intend to teach maths, science, English, modern languages and technology - the subjects in which the shortages of teachers are most acute - also get a "golden hello" of 4,000 after a year in the job.

Recruitment this year has been up in all those shortage subjects. For example, 20% more want to teach maths - but this is still 20% below target.

Ms Morris acknowledged the problem.

"If we had reached our target for maths teachers we would have had to recruit four out of 10 of all maths graduates leaving university," she said.

But recruitment is only one aspect of the issue.

This summer, the chief inspector of England's schools, Mike Tomlinson, caused a stir when he said that between 10 and 15% of those who began training did not go into teaching - and that about 20% of those who did, left the profession within three years.

Retention problem

"The big issue is not the number of teachers that are being recruited into initial teacher training but our capacity to retain them once they are in the profession," he said.

And new research for the National Union of Teachers reinforces the idea that it is not recruitment but poor retention that is the bigger factor in causing the staff shortages.

This shows that 30% of those who qualify as teachers do not go on to teach.

And the number of resignations from full-time teaching posts in 2000-01 was 52,000 - twice the figure of two years earlier.

Teachers' reasons for leaving tend to be negative - getting out of teaching rather than being attracted into anything else.

They complain about four main issues: Workload - including form-filling - pupil indiscipline, constant government initiatives and pay.

The BBC's Mike Baker
"The rise in recruitment is clearly good news"
Education Secretary, Estelle Morris
"Lets celebrate the increase"
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