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Secondary training places go begging

RECRUITMENT for secondary initial teacher-training courses is a slow business this year.

By mid-March, just over 9,000 applications had been received for secondary teacher training.

This is more than 1,000 fewer than at the same time last year, and 20 per cent less than at the same time two years ago.

A total of 14,383 training places are available.

It is especially disappointing that, even in subjects where additional incentives have been introduced, such as maths, the sciences and languages, ITT recruitment is at its slowest for more than five years. However, even in supposedly easy-to-recruit subjects, such as English and history, applications are slower than in past years. In English they number barely half of what they were in March 1995. Of course, graduates may well be waiting until after finishing ther degree courses to apply, or trying other career options first.

The Teacher Training Agency's advertising campaign will help remind students of teaching as a career. But this campaign needs to be focused on attracting more men.

The decline in applications from men for secondary ITT courses compared with this time last year is almost 20 per cent, whereas for women the drop is only 10 per cent.

Most subjects have so far seen fewer applications from both men and women. The exceptions are physical education, where applications from men are up on last year, and physics, where more women have applied.

At this rate, many admissions tutors will be working over their summer holidays to fill the vacant places.

The writer is a visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University. E-mail:

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