Application plunge fuels shortage fear

6th February 1998 at 00:00
Figures to be published next week will show an "extremely dramatic" fall in applications to initial teacher-training courses, universities warn.

They say that the lack of interest in teaching threatens to undermine the Government's drive to reduce class sizes and boost literacy and numeracy.

The drop affects all types of courses. Applications for four-year B.Ed courses are down by 15 per cent compared with this time last year. Applications for postgraduate courses are down by 7.4 per cent overall - secondary PGCE courses by 10.85 per cent and primary by 4.66 per cent.

The news will fuel fears of teacher shortages in the classroom - the situation in some subjects such as maths and physics is already critical. The figures will prove disappointing for the Teacher Training Agency which has being trying to improve the image and status of teaching through its cinema advertising campaign and new qualifications. It also shows that the Government's decision to waive tuition fees for PGCE students has not helped.

Tony Higgins, chief executive of the Universities and Colleges Admissions service, said the figures reflected a buoyant economy and the more seductive pay and benefits offered by other jobs.

"There has been a significant fall in applications for PGCE courses and when UCAS publishes its figures you will see an extremely dramatic fall in applications for undergraduate teacher training," he said.

Jane Benham, TTA head of teacher supply, admitted that applications were down by 15 per cent for four-year courses and said that applications were down on last year in all subjects apart from information technology, PE and RE.

John Howson, a consultant on teacher supply, said that "the profession is on a knife edge". "The situation is getting worse week by week. Secondary applications are the lowest in five years. Now that primary applications are also suffering, it is difficult to see how the Government is going to fulfil its commitment to reduce class sizes."

He added that the staged 3.8 per cent pay settlement may be putting even more young people off.

"If 18 to 21-year-olds are put off going into teaching now, we will have a disaster. We are now looking at three parallel crises - a shortage of entrants, a shortage in middle management and senior staff leaving."

* Ministers will today announce Pounds 11 million for headteacher training.

Leader, PAGE 18

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today