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Drop-outs 'cost millions'

one in five trainees on PGCE and undergraduate courses in most secondary shortage subjects fails to qualify or does not start teaching, according to new figures. Millions of pounds may be wasted because of the high drop-out rate.

Analysts say that some universities struggle to fill places on shortage subject courses and take on lower quality applicants with less commitment to teaching because they lose funding to other institutions when they fail to fill enough of their places. Analysis of data from the Training and Development Agency shows a varying picture of completion rates for teacher training in shortage subjects with outcomes affected by the first degree subject studied and the institution where the course took place.

Less than 4 per cent at Cambridge failed to gain Qualified Teacher Status compared with nearly a third at Greenwich.

The worst affected subject is modern languages. Nearly a third of the 1,459 final-year students in 200506 failed to qualify or chose not to teach .

Figures for maths, religious education, ICT, design and technology and science all told a similar story. The highest failure rate was in design and technology, with 18 per cent not being awarded qualified teacher status. In geography, social sciences and PE, more than 90 per cent succeeded.

Graduates in maths, languages and science are able to find more lucrative work outside teaching, which makes good trainees in these subjects hard to recruit.

James Rogers, director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers said: "Recruiting to some courses is challenging, but the main reason they do not make it to the classroom is that they are advised it is not working out."

Professor Alan Smithers, from the University of Buckingham, who carried out the analysis, said: "Universities struggle to fill the training places in these subjects and so they are operating at a lower threshold."

All of the primary and secondary university-based PGCE trainees who failed to gain QTS represent a potential loss to the Government of around pound;44 million, assuming they all received a pound;6,000 basic bursary, their Pounds 1,200 fees were paid and the university received pound;4,000 per student in core funding. The real losses are likely to be lower as many students drop out early and their bursaries are stopped.

Government figures collected in January showed there were 210 vacancies for science teaching jobs in English schools, followed by maths with 200, English with 140 and design and technology and ICT with 90 each.

Only the strong survive, page 8

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