The number of applications from people wishing to train as language teachers has risen by 22 per cent in a year, according to the latest data.
Applications for Spanish teacher training were up 21 per cent this April compared to the same time last year, from 1,400 to 1,700, according to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).
And applications for French teacher training rose by 14 per cent, from 1,610 to 1,840, while German teacher training applications rose by 16 per cent from 770 to 890. The number of people wanting to become trainee Mandarin teachers also rose – from 120 to 320.
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James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, welcomed the overall increase for languages, but said: “We have to wait and see how many of these actually turn into recruits because each application has to meet the requirements. What really matters is the number of people that are actually recruited onto courses starting in September.”
He described the Mandarin increase as “relatively small,” adding: “I don’t think you should read too much into it for now, but if it trebled again next year, say up to a thousand, that would mean something.”
The growth in Mandarin applications has been partly attributed to the government’s £10 million Mandarin Excellence Programme (MEP) which set itself a target of getting 5,000 young people speaking Mandarin by 2020.
Katharine Carruthers, director of UCL’s IOE Confucius Institute for Schools, which runs the programme, said the rise in applications was linked to the growth in the number of schools on the programme, the demand for teachers and the raised awareness about Chinese teaching as a career that the MEP has generated.
“It is also linked to the general growth of Chinese in schools across the country," she said. "Applicants know that those who are accepted onto courses are finding employment at the end of their course.”
As reported in Tes, the number of UK students sitting A-level Chinese rose by 8.6 per cent last year, outstripping German for the first time.
At the same time, there was a decline in the uptake of both French and German at GCSE and IGCSE, which last year fell by 5.9 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively on 2017, according to research by the Association of School and College Leaders.