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40% more MFL teacher trainees needed for 2020

Teacher trainers warn that target of extra 641 language trainees will not be met

Teaching linguistics would help pupils in studying modern foreign languages, says Michelle Sheehan

Teacher trainers warn that target of extra 641 language trainees will not be met

An extra 641 teacher trainees in modern foreign languages are needed to start work in schools by 2020, according to government forecasts.

But this is among “challenging targets” for teacher recruitment which the government will yet again fail to meet, training providers have said.

Figures released by the Department for Education show that the number of MFL trainees for postgraduate initial teacher training needed for 2019-20 is 2,241 – compared to 1,600 this year – in order to provide sufficient numbers of newly qualified teachers for the autumn of 2020.

This represents a 40 per cent increase in postgraduate ITT places for MFL compared to 2018-19.

But James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said the government had already failed for the last five years to meet recruitment targets for secondary schools and said this was another target which was unlikely to be met.

Mr Rogers called for barriers preventing people coming into the profession to be scrapped, including fees for people studying a PGCE, which are currently, on average, around £9,250. 

He added: “I’d also abolish pre-entry tests in literacy and numeracy [for trainees] which are badly administered and cost the government £15 million a year - which is money that could be better spent. And teaching needs to be marketed in a better way. At present, there are lots of different routes into teaching and there needs to be a more simplified explanation of them all.”

Across all subjects, the DfE estimates that a total of 864 more postgraduate ITT places are needed (from 32,226 in 2018-19 to 33,090 in 2019-20) including an extra 227 teachers in maths (from 3,116 to 3,343).

Of those, 451 are primary places (a 4 per cent increase) and 413 are secondary places (a 2 per cent increase).

The forecast is linked to a rise in pupil numbers, including an estimated 11 per cent rise in secondary school pupils over the next four years, from 2.77 million this year to 3.03 million in 2022.

By then, the DfE estimates that the qualified teacher headcount will need to rise by nearly 7,500 teachers to 458,137.

But research carried out by Tes estimated that 47,000 more teachers will be needed in secondary schools alone by 2024 in order for schools to maintain the pupil-teacher ratios.

Emma Hollis, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers said: "We are at the point of a ‘perfect storm’ of factors affecting the market. We have a stronger economy which always results in fewer applications. We also have a shrinking graduate pool meaning fewer people are coming out of university who could then train to teach."

She added: “Personally, I think that teaching salaries need to compete in a competitive graduate market – and at present, they simply can’t.”

The increase in MFL teachers is partly driven by policy change such as the increasing number of pupils required to take MFL at GSCE under EBacc targets, the DfE said.

Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton said the government needed to ensure that the Brexit deal does not place obstacles in the way of recruiting teachers from overseas, because this provided “a vital supply line of modern foreign languages teachers.”

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