Teach First has announced it is cutting its cohort by 120 due to schools "reducing or withdrawing vacancies" amid the coronavirus crisis.
Sharing the news on social media, chief executive officer Russell Hobby said the organisation had to make the "terrible decision" to reduce the cohort size as it was "unable to find enough vacancies in eligible schools in the right subjects and areas".
"Sadly yesterday we had to make a terrible decision to reduce our cohort size by 120, disappointing a number of candidates we had hoped to place," he said.
Coronavirus: New teacher job vacancies drop
"I am deeply sorry to them. They are good potential teachers that schools would be lucky to have. If colleagues in the sector have places, let us know and we will pass on.
"We have been unable to find enough vacancies in eligible schools in the right subjects and areas. Understandably, schools have been reducing or withdrawing vacancies."
Sadly yesterday we had to make a terrible decision to reduce our cohort size by 120, disappointing a number of candidates we had hoped to place.— Russell Hobby (@russellhobby) June 17, 2020
Mr Hobby added that candidates will be able to defer to 2021.
Provisional data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows that Teach First took on 1,646 new entrants to initial teacher training (ITT) in the 2019-20 academic year.
Concerns about a drop in school vacancies were raised in May, when new research showed nearly half of school-based teacher training providers had seen a fall in the number of trainees securing jobs compared to the same time last year.
Providers suggested that fewer vacancies were being advertised this year, "possibly due to schools focusing on issues around Covid-19 and delaying dealing with recruitment until a later date".
The news sits against a backdrop of concerns for teacher recruitment and retention. Earlier this month, a report from the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) found that there is an "urgent need" to ensure workforce demands are met, due to "rising pupil numbers, shortfalls in the number of trainee teachers and an increasing proportion of teachers leaving the profession".
The NFER's Teacher Labour Market in England Annual Report 2020, based on data collected prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, showed that the recruitment situation has "significantly worsened" for shortage subjects at secondary level, such as physics, maths, modern foreign languages (MFL) and chemistry. And years of under-recruitment are likely to lead to increasing shortages, it warned.