Science recruits exceed target

Training agency says 3,600 have signed up - but another 6,600 are needed in next two years

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The number of trainee science teachers recruited is due to exceed government targets for the first time this year.

Latest figures from the Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) show 3,441 people had signed up to train as secondary science teachers by October 8, but with a further 230 expected to take up employment-based training, the agency says the 3,600 target for 2008-09 will be met.

It is hoping that a new YouTube-based campaign will also tempt yet more people to move into science teaching.

An additional 6,600 science teachers are needed over the next two years. A poll of 1,000 adults by the agency found that only 17 per cent remembered enjoying their science classes.

The YouTube clips are attempting to challenge this perception by showing five real school science classes - including "screaming jelly babies" in which one of the sweets is added to a test tube of potassium chlorate that has been pre-heated to show the oxidation of sugar. The jelly baby bursts into flames and gives out a screaming sound.

Graham Holley, chief executive of the TDA, said: "The recruitment figures overall are very encouraging. However, we must not be complacent. We need to encourage the best science graduates to become teachers, and this is what we will continue to do with the launch of today's campaign."

In total there were 31,272 new and expected entrants to mainstream initial teacher training this year, with an additional 6,950 expected entrants through employment-based teacher training programmes.

The total number of new entrants this academic year is expected to be about 38,200, lower than last year when 38,300 trainees signed up, but exceeding the government target of 36,845.

The statistics show that there are four subject specialisms that are likely to be undersubscribed.

The other shortfalls are predicted to be in ICT (86 per cent), maths (91 per cent) and geography (90 per cent) and languages (92 per cent).

To encourage recruitment, trainees on certain maths, chemistry and physics courses can get a training bursary of up to Pounds 16,000.

Providers are also given more money per student for those studying priority subjects. At present, these are: science, design and technology, engineering, manufacturing, ICT, maths, modern languages, music and RE. And there are extra premiums this year for institutions that recruit specialist trainees in physics (Pounds 2,000 a trainee), chemistry (Pounds 2,000), food technology (Pounds 1,000).

There is also extra funding for providers who recruit and retain black and minority ethnic trainees.

The figures also show that there are fewer entrants from a minority background than in 2007.

Last year, 4,293 trainees were from minority backgrounds while this year there were 3,753.

The number of new entrants to mainstream programmes who have declared disability is down three per cent from 1,786 to 1,730.

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