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Shortage of trainee maths and physics teachers a 'pressing' problem, warns Ofsted

Ofsted is becoming “increasingly concerned” about the “declining” number of new teachers joining the profession.

The inspectorate’s annual report, published this morning, highlights the “pressing” problem of the drop in new recruits coming into the classroom, which chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw warned could exacerbate the attainment gaps between the best and worst-performing schools.

Low-level disruption among students is also highlighted as a major concern, with more than 400,000 pupils attending a secondary where behaviour is “poor”, and many schools plagued by a “hubbub of interference”.

The report also argues that while performance in primaries has improved, progress has “stalled” in the secondary sector, with a "worrying  lack of scholarship permeating the culture of too many schools" which fail to stretch their most able students.

The number of new entrants to the profession has fallen by 17 per cent since 2009/10, and recruitment for 2014/15 was 7 per cent below the target, with particularly acute shortages reported in maths and physics.

“This is a pressing issue,” the report says. “More teachers will be needed to match the substantial increase in the number of school-age children – nearly 900,000 more children [are] expected over the next 10 years.”

The risk of good and outstanding schools being able to “cherry pick the best trainees” could amplify the “stark differences in local and regional performance”, it adds.

The criticism comes after it was revealed that School Direct - the government's scheme that encouarges schools rather than universities to recruit trainees - has struggled to fill its allocation of places. Heads' unions have also warned that schools across the country are struggling to recruit teachers.

Ofsted’s annual report also expresses concerns about poor levels of behaviour in many schools, with the proportion of school rated good or outstanding in this category dropping by seven percentage points since last year.

The situation was described by Sir Michael as “unacceptable”. “Inspectors found far too many instances of pupils gossiping, calling out without permission, using their mobiles, being slow to start work or follow instructions, or failing to bring the right books or equipment to class,” the report says.

“While these are minor infractions in themselves, cumulatively they create a hubbub of interference that makes teaching and learning difficult and sometimes impossible.”

Overall, 9 per cent of the schools inspected in 2013/14 were rated outstanding and 54 per cent good, with 30 per cent placed in the requires improvement category and 7 per cent found to be inadequate.

A Department for Education spokesperson said there were now more teachers in England's classrooms "than ever before" with record levels of top graduates.

They added: “We always allocate more places than are needed to ensure a high quality supply of teachers across England's classrooms, we never expect to fill to 100% per cent of allocated places, and we are confident we will be able to meet future demand for teachers.”


Related stories:

Ofsted: more students attending 'inadequate' secondaries, but primaries 'forge ahead' - December 2014

CBI: Ofsted should focus on pupils' 'holistic' development - December 2014

Ofsted should inspect outstanding schools too, say heads – December 2014

Ofsted data reveals 'weakness and inconsistency' of inspections, headteachers say – November 2014

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