How many primary school teachers are there in England? Each January, the Government asks schools to count their workforce on a particular day. So, we know for a certain day in January how many teachers were effectively working in schools; not the same thing as how many teachers, but an interesting statistic anyway. This January, there were 205,000 such teachers, of whom 197,900 fell within the Department for Children, Schools and Families' definition of regular teachers. This excludes occasional teachers - supply teachers to you and me - but curiously includes those on employment-based training routes, such as the Graduate Teacher Programme and unqualified instructors. Thus, the number of qualified regular teachers is only 193,200. This is 2,500 or 1.25 per cent more than when Labour came into power in 1997.
The number of full-time qualified regular teachers in primary schools is actually some 11,000 fewer than in 1997, replaced in part by the equivalent of 14,000 more full-time working part-time: the actual number of part-timers is around 56,000. After peaking in 2005, the number of overseas trained teachers and instructors are in decline, down to 3,000 this year, as is the number of trainee teachers on employment-based route. Their numbers also peaked in 2005, at 2,400 and there are now 1,700 such employees. These statistics also show why some primary teachers are finding supply work so much more difficult to find. In 2001, there were 12,000 supply teachers employed on the day of the census; this year, there were only 6,600, with almost half of these being employed in schools in or close to London
John Howson is director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.