Teacher numbers target set to be hit

THE Government claims it is on the verge of hitting its 2006 target of 10,000 more teachers in schools, following a 12 per cent rise in recruitment to training courses.

Student numbers accepted on to primary postgraduate courses in England are up 16 per cent, while secondary enrolment has risen by 10 per cent.

The increases were welcomed by heads. But the biggest classroom union warned that proposed changes to the funding system will make it harder for education authorities to help schools recruit.

A Department for Education and Skills spokeswoman said teacher- training recruitment was at a seven-year high: "It is clear that graduates are being encouraged by golden hellos, training bursaries, and now, for newly-qualified teachers in shortage-subject areas, the chance to have their student loans repaid for them."

John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads' Association, welcomed the increase but added: "We have to ensure the Government's record in the coming year makes teaching more attractive so that training acceptances are turned into qualified teachers in classrooms and we reduce the early drop-out rate."

Schools needed more than 10,000 extra qualified teachers to cope with rising secondary pupil numbers, he added. Teacher numbers were up 9,400 this January, but 3,800 were unqualified.

A TESSHA recruitment survey published last week suggested secondaries were starting this term short of 3,700 teachers, and that nearly a fifth of new recruits were of poor calibre.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teachers fears councils will receive no money to help schools with recruitment, making the staffing crisis worse in some areas. Splitting funding into two separate blocks, one for LEAs and the other for schools, could make it harder for LEAs to find the cash.

John Bangs, the NUT's head of education, said: "LEAs need a pot of money to draw on to provide things like additional recruitment incentives, advice centres for new teachers and targeted professional development. These are things that schools value and that can make an area attractive to teachers."

Despite the overall improvement in recruitment some shortage subjects will still fall short of Government targets. Postgraduate maths numbers are up 20 per cent to 1,124, but still short of the 1,940 target. In science, acceptances are up 6 per cent to 2,082, but the target for all training routes is 2,850.

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