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Recruits flock to shortage subjects

The number of students applying to teach shortage secondary subjects has increased by up to a third, figures show.

The rise follows a pound;12 million advertising campaign to encourage more students to consider teaching maths, science, languages and religious education, which all have many vacancies.

Figures from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry show applications to university maths teacher training courses in England leapt 30 per cent compared with the same time last year and applications to science courses jumped 22 per cent.

RE - a focus of the Teacher Training Agency campaign in March - has seen a 15 per cent rise in applications after graduates with degrees in subjects other than religious studies and theology were encouraged to train in the subject after doing 10-week "booster" courses.

But languages are not provoking the same interest. Applications to teach German are down 6.2 per cent and French only shows a nominal increase. This will place further pressure on language teaching in secondaries which critics claim has already been marginalised after the Government allowed pupils to drop the subject at the age of 14.

Overall, applications to teacher training in England rose by 3.3 per cent at the end of May. However, applications to teach in primaries - which have suffered oversupply in parts of the country - are down 1.4 per cent. New figures from the GTTR next week are expected to confirm this trend.

Tony Gardiner, reader in maths at Birmingham university, welcomed increased interest in maths, but said: "These figures should always be read with extreme caution. I am not going to disapprove of a 30 per cent increase in maths, but it will only be good news when we find out how many actually complete the PGCE, then stay in teaching."

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