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'Encouraging' rise in trainee applicants

Only RE fails to benefit from the increase in applications. Karen Thornton reports.

APPLICATIONS to teacher-training courses are up 23 per cent in England and nearly 43 per cent in Wales, the first figures of the year reveal.

So far more than 1,400 applications have been received for English, which is currently listed as a shortage subject - up 45 per cent on the same time last year.

There are even bigger increases, albeit from smaller bases, for information and design technology and business studies in England. There are no detailed subject breakdowns for applications for Wales.

Applications for maths, which has not recruited to target for years, are up nearly 29 per cent. However, religious education is down more than a fifth, and is now at its lowest-ever level.

Recruitment analyst John Howson said ministers needed to consider if RE should be made a shortage subject, entitling trainees to a pound;4,000 "golden hello" - and whether English should be removed from the same list.

A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said there were no plans to change the shortage subject list. Last year, a 16.7 per cent rise in graduate applications in England and Wales translated into only 3 per cent more students on courses.

A Teacher Training Agency spokesman said it was early days in the application cycle, but that the figures were "encouraging".

But Phil Willis, Liberal Democrat education spokesman, said the Government was only making up lost ground on previous years and there was still plenty to do, in the face of rising secondary pupil numbers and poor retention rates.

Meanwhile, a new survey commissioned by the TTA suggests teaching provides what many people are looking for in a career.

Job satisfaction was the top priority with 65 per cent of the 1,046 people interviewed - and almost the same proportion said it could be found in teaching.

Working with a subject you enjoy and long term job security were the next highest priorities, named by 43 and 40 per cent of respondents respectively. More than half and 47 per cent respectively said teaching offered these things.

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