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Shortage subjects still need teachers

Article | Published in TES Newspaper on 22 October, 2004 | By: Graeme Paton

Statistics show Government has failed to reach recruitment targets despite 'golden hellos'. Graeme Paton reports

The Government has failed to meet its targets for the recruitment of new teachers in shortage subjects this year, figures reveal.

Numbers of graduates taken on to maths, science, language, music, RE and design and technology training courses in September were all well down on targets set by the Department for Education and Skills.

Experts said the shortfalls were likely to lead to bigger classes and more subjects being taught by unqualified teachers next year.

Statistics released by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry show the number of people recruited on to maths PGCE courses is up on last year - 1,710 compared to 1,663. But it is still short of the 2,350 target.

In RE, where training colleges now accept graduates with degrees other than theology and religious studies to address shortages, numbers are up by 4 per cent to 588. However, the figure is still down on the 730 new RE teachers needed to cope with the subject's surging popularity at GCSE level.

One of the biggest black holes remains in languages where 2,050 people started training last month, 503 fewer than the Government says it needs.

The figures will add weight to the argument that the Government's schemes to repay teachers' student loans or offer "golden hellos" of £4,000 are a waste of money. An estimated £800 million has been spent in the past four years.

Professor John Howson, a recruitment analyst and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes university, said the answer to the recruitment crisis was to guarantee new teachers at least a year's work in a school. In Scotland, all newly-qualified teachers get the chance of a 12-month contract at the end of their PGCE year. He claimed in England the biggest barrier to people entering the profession was fear of not getting a job at the end of training.

A TES survey last month found a quarter of all new primary school teachers who graduated over the summer had still not found work.

Prof Howson said: "It is clear that the 'golden hellos' alone have not worked and are not succeeding in getting enough people into these shortage subjects."

A spokeswoman for the Teacher Training Agency said the GTTR figures were only part of the picture and failed to take into account school-based training courses.

A spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills said: "We have seen similar scare stories every autumn in recent years, which have inevitably been proved wrong by the final recruitment figures. Teacher numbers are at their highest level in a generation - they have increased by 4,100 since 2003."

A TTA spokeswoman said that it is likely more candidates will be recruited after the start of courses in September, adding: "These allocations are also indicative - they often change during the recruitment year as some training providers will request additional places whilst others may reduce their numbers slightly."

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