IT teacher shortage may continue for a decade

IT will take 10 years to get a trained technology teacher into every school unless ministers increase the number of training places, it was claimed this week.

Latest figures show applications for postgraduate teacher training in information and communications technology have rocketed. They are up 69 per cent on last year, from 710 to 1,198. The increase has been attributed to the downturn in the private-sector job market, following the collapse of the "dotcom" industry.

There will be around 772 ICT teacher training places available this September, up 200 on last year. But recruitment expert John Howson says ministers should have taken advantage of the high application rate and provided even more.

"At this rate, it will take 10 years to get one trained ICT teacher in every school," he said. "The Office for Standards in Education has consistently said ICT is the worst taught subject because of the lack of specialists. The Government is being foolish in not being able to respond to the growth in people wanting to apply when it is clear these people would be useful."

ICT tops the teacher vacancy tables published earlier this week, with more than one in 50 posts unfilled in January.

However, while other subjects had lower proportions of posts vacant, the number of teachers needed was higher: schools were short of 100 ICT teachers, but there was a shortfall of 390 maths teachers, 380 scientists, and 320 English experts.

Despite an overall 12.5 per cent rise in applications to postgraduate teacher training in England, Professor Howson is predicting that recruitment targets will be missed in maths, science, modern foreign languages, design and technology, geography, music and religious education.

The Religious Education Council of England and Wales renewed its calls for the subject to be put on the Government's shortage list. Applications to RE training are down almost 12 per cent on last year, from 688 to 606.

Primary applications are buoyant, particularly in Wales, where they are up more than a third to 1,468. The Government is funding an extra 1,500 primary training places from September.

* AS teachers flock to the beach, a Government agency says many of their fellow tourists would like to join them in the classroom.

A survey of 2,011 adults aged up to 51 for the Teacher Training Agency, found 60 per cent reckoned a new career in teaching would improve their lifestyle and finances. The profession was three times more popular than the next choice, accountancy.

See www.gttr.ac.uk for the teacher training application figures and details of courses. Teacher vacancy data at www.dfes.gov.ukstatistics

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