EBac subjects offer the best opportunities

25th March 2011 at 00:00

Subjects picked for the English Baccalaureate are already faring better than others for job opportunities, with the striking exception of English. Nearly all subjects saw falls in advertised posts, with an average drop of more than a third between January and February in 2010 and 2011.

However, those included in the EBac, which was announced by education ministers in November last year, already appear to be coping better. Modern foreign languages, history, chemistry and general science showed the smallest reductions, while geography, physics, maths and biology all saw below-average drops.

In contrast, subjects that have been missed from the Baccalaureate tended to see far more significant falls, especially RE, PE, design and technology, citizenship and ICT.

The only EBac subject to buck the trend was English, with 262 fewer advertised posts than last year. This was the largest total drop, and a proportional fall of 39 per cent.

Dr Bethan Marshall, senior lecturer in English education at King's College London, says she has noticed that her students are finding it harder to get jobs, when in previous years many would have already obtained posts by now.

"It is very strange," she says. "I think English teachers may just be staying put because other jobs aren't available. Some schools have suggested they will be waiting later to recruit, so we may see more posts advertised at Easter."

Ian McNeilly, director of the National Association for the Teaching of English, says he is surprised by the drop in available English posts. "One of the strengths of the subject is that it doesn't normally suffer the vagaries of other subjects. No matter what the administration, high- quality English teaching will always be at the centre of schools' work," he says. "To put a positive spin on it, these figures may be a result of people being happy in their jobs - and teaching English is a pretty good job. English has been off the shortage subject list for some time, and it tends to be an area where schools do not need to re-advertise."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says he believes the relatively low number of advertisements for English teachers could well be due to headteachers being optimistic that they could find high-quality NQTs ready to teach English later in the school year, if they needed them, while maths and science posts have remained trickier to fill.

The overall drop in advertisements was predictable, he says, as the association believed most secondary schools would now be cutting staffing numbers through offering voluntary redundancy and early retirement, among other methods.

Mr Lightman says the swing towards EBac subjects is also already making itself felt. "Schools have limited resources. We are quite worried about the other subjects, the non-EBac subjects, as we are hearing that they are being squeezed."

In spite of this trend, the only subjects to see actual increases in advertisements for posts were two that are not part of the EBac: performing arts and social sciences. However, since fewer than 20 posts were advertised in either of these subjects this year, they are less statistically significant.

How the subjects are faring
Numbers of jobs advertised in JanuaryFebruary 2010 and JanuaryFebruary 2011
SubjectRise or fall by
Advertised in
JanFeb 2010
Advertised in
JanFeb 2011
Performing arts50%1218
Social sciences9%1112

Modern foreign languages
General science-17%397329
Vocational studies-22%97
Business studies-38%11672
Special needs-45%17496
Design and technology-48%312162
Classics - Latin-49%8945
English as an additional
Media studies-61%4116
Maths and computing-71%72
Health and social care-77%266

Related article: Austerity hits the jobs market hard, but there are rays of hope


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