Nicolas Barnard reports on the burning issues raised at the Secondary Heads Association's annual conference
A GOLDEN hello of pound;5,000 intended to lure maths and science students into teaching have so far attracted just six extra physicists.
Official figures suggest the Government is on course to miss its lower recruitment targets again this year, even after launching a huge advertising campaign and introduced the pound;5,000 incentives.
Applications from mathematicians for post-graduate certificate in education courses are up by 24 per cent against the same point last year, thanks to the bonus.
But in science, the biggest rise has come from biologists, who are already over-represented, with an extra 106 applications. Physicists, the smallest group among scientists, have seen numbers grow by just 4 per cent - six applications. And applications from chemists are up by 33 individuals.
Overall, PGCE applications for all subjects are down 2 per cent on last year. The dramatic fall in applications in modern foreign languages - French is down 21 per cent - prompted secondary heads this week to warn they would soon no longer be able to provide the full national curriculum.
Courses were 5,000 short of the Government's target of 19,000 last year, and that target was dropped this year to 16,800.
John Dunford, SHA general secretary, highlighted the latest Graduate Teacher Training Register (GTTR) figures. "There is no question that secondaries are finding modern languages recruitment very difficult. The first thing we will see is schools who are not able to deliver the curriculum for all of key stage 4."
SHA figures last week also revealed problems in recruiting department heads. Mr Dunford said the figures showed the recruitment crisis now existed at every level - with the growth in maths and biology PGCE applications masking the extent of the crisis.
The association is pressing for the incentive payments to be extended to modern languages and technology trainees. Under the scheme, maths and science graduates who begin PGCE courses this September will get pound;2,500 at the start and the same again on taking up a first post in a state school.
Analysts said the huge uptake by biologists had been entirely predictable. John Howson, of Education Data Surveys, warned that universities could end up turning away physicists in July because all the science places have been taken by biologists.