Teacher training applications down by a fifth

Applications for history, RE and music teacher training courses drop by almost a third from last year

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The number of people who want to become teachers has dropped by almost a fifth.

The latest figures from admissions body UCAS show that 25,140 people had applied for postgraduate teacher training by 19 March, compared to 30,890 at the same time last year – a drop of 19 per cent.

The new statistics are an improvement on the picture last month, when numbers were 23 per cent lower than they had been in February 2017.

 But numbers have dropped dramatically in certain subjects:

  • History has 1,220 applications than last year – a drop of 31 per cent
  • Religious studies has 300 fewer applications than last year – a drop of 29 per cent
  • Music also 29 per cent fewer applications than last year

Maths (down 20 per cent) and physics (down 22 per cent) remain difficult to fill. But while there has been a drop of 24 per cent in applications to become a chemistry teacher, applications for biology are up 23 per cent and general science is down just one per cent.

Candidates can apply for up to three courses, meaning the figures for applications are larger than the number of applicants.

The statistics come after the migration advisory committee published evidence from teaching unions this week, saying that the thousands of European teachers working in UK schools should be given a guarantee that they can stay – amid concerns over existing teachers shortages in schools.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and the number of new teachers entering our classrooms outnumbers those who retire or leave.                      

"Earlier this month the Education Secretary announced a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers – working with teaching unions and professional bodies – to continue to attract the brightest and best graduates. This will build on existing recruitment measures which attracted more than 32,000 trainees last year alone."

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