The number of aspiring teachers needed to begin training has dropped for the first time in at least five years, new figures show.
Today the Department for Education published its initial teacher training (ITT) allocations and teacher supply model (TSM) for 2020-21.
The model estimates how many new teachers are needed to enter the teaching profession in 2021-22 – and by extension estimates how many postgraduate trainees are needed to start ITT courses in 2020-21.
This tear's TSM shows 30,952 would-be teachers are needed to start training next year, compared to 33,090 in 2019-20 – a decrease of 6.5 per cent.
It is the first time in at least five years that the number of trainees required to start ITT courses has fallen.
The number of primary trainees needed to start ITT courses next year has dropped by 1,536 (11.5 per cent).
Meanwhile, the number of aspiring secondary teachers needed to start training in 2020-21 has fallen by 602 (3 per cent).
The DfE says one reason for the fall is that there has been an increase in the number of current undergraduate trainees, which has reduced the need to recruit for future postgraduate ITT courses.
It also says that this is the first year the TSM has accounted for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) entering service via the assessment only route.
This means fewer postgraduate trainees are needed to start ITT courses.
The DfE adds that improvements in the school workforce census methodology have identified that there were a higher number of entrants in previous years that were returners or new entrants from independent schools than previously thought.
As the school workforce census is a key input to the TSM, the model has now been adjusted to assume that a slightly greater proportion of teachers in future years will be returners or new entrants from independent schools, with a corresponding fall in the proportion that will be NQTs. This reduces teacher training requirements slightly.
However, ITT recruitment remains uncapped in most subjects – meaning a decline in the number of aspiring teachers “required” to start their courses next year will not necessarily translate into a drop in trainees.
Yesterday, a government policy adviser admitted that the updated teacher training framework will involve "short-term pain", after revealing the quick turnaround for bringing it in.
Speaking at the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) annual conference in London, Rachel Hayward, ITT policy adviser for the Department for Education (DfE), said the longer-term gains would make the challenges worthwhile.
She said the framework will be published in the spring, with implementation from September 2020.