New evidence of teacher shortages has emerged today with initial teacher training providers revealing they have been “inundated” with school requests for staff in previously "easy to recruit" subjects.
The National Association of School-Based Teacher Training (NASBTT) has submitted evidence to the Department for Education about the volume of requests its members have had from schools wanting trainees ready to start work as primary, history or English teachers in September.
Surrey South Farnham SCITT (school-centred initial teacher training) is getting phone calls from schools asking for new teachers weeks earlier than in previous years.
Sir Andrew Carter, chief executive of the South Farnham Educational Trust, which runs the SCITT, said: "From January onwards people start to advertise for jobs. They might fill one job, but in the later part of the year applicants have gone. There is an anxiety."
'Scrap recruitment limits'
He is calling on ministers to scrap the limits on the number of trainee teachers that can be recruited.
"I would like the government to lift the limit totally and create a marketplace," Sir Andrew said. "We have 115 trainees next year signed up and we could have had another 30 or 40 without trying – people we've had to turn away.
"We know there is a demand for well-trained primary teachers."
English, history and primary are the only three areas which managed to over-recruit against their teacher training targets in September 2015. But the SCITTs are reporting unfufilled demand from schools.
Martin Thompson, executive director of NASBTT, said: "Members are reporting that the schools they work with are facing a real struggle to recruit English, history and primary teachers for September 2016."
The news comes the day after the Commons education committee quizzed experts about the supply of teachers and whether the data being collected by the Department for Education was the information it needed to help manage teacher supply.
Earlier this year, the National Audit Office criticised the Department for Education for its lack of knowledge of local recruitment difficulties and not measuring the accuracy of its teacher supply model, which is used to set trainee numbers.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The number and quality of teachers has never been higher and the number of teachers returning to the classroom is also rising year on year. Over 1,000 more graduates are training to teach than a year ago, with record levels holding a first class degree. With three months still to go we have recruited in excess of our postgraduate targets in primary and in several secondary subjects.
“Our priority is making sure we get the best teachers in the schools where they’re needed. In order to make sure that’s the case, we’re investing hundreds of millions of pounds to attract the best graduates into teaching through generous bursaries and initiatives like School Direct, as well as backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to get great teachers where they are most needed.”