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Teaching back in fashion

But despite the recruitment boom, there is still a shortfall in maths and science. John Howson reports

Recruitment to teacher training is at its highest level for 12 years. Trainee numbers started rising two years ago, following the introduction of training grants and "golden hellos". The increase has been particularly marked in secondary postgraduate courses.

The Government can also take satisfaction from the increasing numbers entering the profession through on-the-job training, based in schools.

This year, 4,350 places are available on the employment-based scheme. Six hundred are reserved for overseas-trained teachers and a further 200 for self-funded applications, including those from the independent sector. Last year, just over 2,000 employment-based places were available.

These on-the-job recruits will help to offset the continuing decline in the number of secondary teaching students taking undergraduate courses. These courses are, however, still the most important route into teaching for PE specialists who make up 42 per cent of undergraduates on secondary courses.

By contrast, the number of undergraduates on primary courses has edged up by 2 per cent. But most of the 1,500 extra primary training places available this year have gone to postgraduate certificate in education courses, where enrolments have risen by 18 per cent. This means that next summer there should be well over 1,000 extra primary teachers leaving training and looking for jobs.

Although this will help to combat the national shortage of primary teachers, secondary schools are unlikely to do more than maintain the status quo. Despite the rise in trainee numbers this year, the Government's training targets have been missed in eight of the 12 secondary subjects.

In some subject areas, such as mathematics, the targets have not been met for almost a decade.

As the training grant (pound;6,000) and "golden hellos" for teachers of shortage subjects (pound;4,000) have remained unchanged for nearly three years, they may now look less attractive to trainees.

A close eye will need to be kept on application levels for next autumn's courses in shortage subjects, especially maths and science where targets are expected to be between 15 and 20 per cent above this year's figures.

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys email

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