Just before Christmas the Department for Education and Employment announced the total number of new teacher training places it will fund during the financial year 200102. Most of these places will be for trainees starting PGCE courses this coming autumn.
The big surprise is that training targets for primary teachers have been cut by 600 places. Further losses are signalled, so that by 200304 there will be only 12,100 primary initial teacher trainees, a reduction of 1,000 on this year's total and the lowest number since 1998.
Secondary training places for next year have been increased by 775. The extra numbers have been added to technology (150 extra places), science (120), maths (90), geography (85), music (75) and "others" including citizenship (150). The margin for flexibility has been increaed by 150 to 350. Religious education is the only subject facing a cutback, albeit of only 15 places.
The target for the Graduate Training Programme has been held at 1,680 places.
Somewhat surprisingly, these targets do not include places for those recruited to the Fast Track scheme, so the overall target for trainees will be greater than the published figure of 31,570 places.
The target is certainly challenging. All the increases are in subject areas that have failed to meet their targets in recent years. The introduction of the training grants should make a difference but, as of December, some subjects - maths in particular - were recording smaller numbers of applicants than during the autumn of 1999, before the training grants were announced.