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Dramatic drop in new teacher recruitment coincides with 150% boost to DfE advertising spend

Teacher-training offers fall by 37 per cent over two years, despite a huge increase in recruitment campaign spending

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Teacher-training offers fall by 37 per cent over two years, despite a huge increase in recruitment campaign spending

The government is spending millions of pounds on advertising for new teachers, but recruitment to teacher-training courses has hit some of its lowest levels since 2013-14.

New figures, released today by the university admissions service Ucas, reveal dramatic drops in the numbers of offers made for teacher-training places, compared with the same time two years ago.

Overall, 4,250 secondary offers have been made this year, across all subjects, compared with 6,790 offers at the same point two years ago: a 37 per cent drop.

The fall comes despite a significant increase in Department for Education's spending on advertising and PR in an effort to recruit new teachers – £14 million last year, up from £5.6 million in 2014-15: a 150 per cent increase.

Across many subjects, the figures are among the lowest seen since 2013-14, when, at this stage, 2,790 secondary offers had been made overall.

John Howson, recruitment expert and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, said that the government had spent less than £5.5 million on advertising for new teachers in 2013-14.

Physics and maths badly hit

As of this month, there have been 80 offers made for places to train to teach physics, compared with 150 offers that had been made at the same time two years ago.

The lowest-ever number of offers made at this point in the application process was in 2013-14, when 70 offers had been made.

Professor Howson pointed out that Ucas rounds its number of offers made to the nearest 10. “So 70 offers could be 74,” he said. “And 80 could be 76.”

Maths has also been badly hit. There have been 410 offers made this year to applicants wanting to train to teach maths, compared with 610 offers two years ago. The lowest number at this stage was in 2013-14, when 390 offers had been made.

Music offers have also dropped, from 150 two years ago to 70 this year. The previous lowest number of offers at this point in the application cycle had been in 2013-14, when 150 offers had been made.

And only 80 offers have been made for places to train to teach design and technology, compared with 350 offers two years ago. No records were kept for design and technology in 2013-14, but 90 offers had been made to teach design as a standalone subject. 

'Very worrying'

“I think the next month is critical,” Professor Howson said. “It’s very worrying. Everything we lose early in the year – there’s been no history of being able to make it up later in the year.”

The Department for Education has been contacted for comment.

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