New figures published today have prompted fears over the extent to which high-quality trainees have missed out on becoming teachers, due to controversial new controls on trainee recruitment.
Statistics from Ucas reveal that by April 18 there were 7,190 applications to become PE teachers in England in the system, compared with 9,080 last year.
Each applicant can make up to three applications.
The shortfall comes after the system for recruitment to initial teacher training was changed this year to allow providers to recruit as many trainees as they want until a national limit is reached.
The system led to a scramble for places in popular subjects – with PE the first to be closed.
John Howson, an expert on teacher recruitment and director of TeachVac, said: “We have lost 1,800 applications from PE as a result of imposing early recruitment controls. This is at least 600 people less than last year.
"The question is, were those 1,800 applications that have been potentially lost, better than the ones that were recruited?
'An imperative to fill places'
"It may be we have lost a percentage of high-quality applicants and taken on less well qualified people because of the imperative to fill places before recruitment controls were imposed rather than looking for the best quality people.”
Figures out today show that although the number of teacher training applications dropped by just 260 (from 98,000 to 97,740) compared with this time last year – some subjects have seen much larger falls.
In history, there are currently 3,950 applications in the system compared with 4,700 last year.
In English, there are currently 6,860 applications while this time last year there were 7,160.
And, despite a rise in the overall number of applicants, from 34,570 to 36,040, the government’s targets in hard-to-fill subjects are still unlikely to be reached.
The idea of continuing this year’s initial teacher training recruitment system appears to have been scrapped with a pledge in the White Paper to return to multi-year allocations for the best providers.