MATHS and science teacher-training courses are attracting more applicants for places than last year, figures released this week show.
But there is virtually no increase in applications in England for modern foreign language courses, and music is down nearly a quarter.
The Graduate Teacher Training Registry, which records applications to one-year postgraduate courses, says science is up 12.3 per cent to 1,562, maths up more than a quarter to 800, and information technology up three-quarters to 607. Overall, secondary applications are up just over 10 per cent and primary by nearly a fifth. Recruitment expert John Howson said maths would still miss the Government's target but science courses could fill all their places.
Meanwhile, a confidential report prepared for the Teacher Training Agency suggests its heavy focus on the quality of training has discouraged some of the best providers from increasing their intake. Funding decisions are directly linked to inspection grades, and some are reluctant to take on "marginal" students, or additional numbers that might dilute their quality.
One group of providers is considering pulling out altogether because of financial and other constraints, say consultants KPMG who reviewed recruitment data from 1998 to 2002.
The TTA has already introduced measures to tackle some of the issues raised and funding per student will increase by 4.5 per cent in 2003-4. Ralph Tabberer, the agency's chief executive, said some providers "don't want to get bigger".
"It may be a strategic decision or they feel constrained by the numbers of partner schools or funding. But we are still getting bids from good providers for (more) places."