Just two-thirds of teachers who qualified last year are working as registered teachers, figures published today show. And the England's General Teaching Council (GTC) suggests many are turning to supply teaching as a means of entering the job market.
Only 23,000 teachers out of the 34,700 who graduated from PGCE courses last year were working in state schools by the end of March this year, which means 34 per cent had dropped out. This represents a slight improvement on spring 2007, when 39 per cent of newly qualified teachers (NQTs) were not registered as working in schools.
But commentators say the drop-out rate is still too high and some teachers may be struggling to find work in either non-shortage subjects or primary schools.
Professor John Howson, of Education Data Surveys, recruitment analysts, said the GTC should gather more data on regional variations to identify where new teachers may be struggling to find work.
The GTC, which compiles the statistics every year, says some of the "missing" NQTs may have decided to delay the start of their careers, or be working in further or higher education or the independent sector, which do not require teachers to be registered.
The teaching body's statistics show that although the number of supply teachers has fallen by 1,200 this year, the number of new teachers in supply has risen from around 2,500 to more than 2,700, and 1,680 teachers under 25 were working as supply teachers in March.
Keith Bartley, the GTC's chief executive, said starting a career with supply work was not ideal.
"I do have concerns about the group of young, and therefore recently qualified and less experienced, teachers who are working in supply roles at the beginning of their careers," he said.
"A good support network for new teachers' professional development is greatly valued, and it is much better to maintain these networks in a consistent environment. I therefore believe that all NQTs should have the chance to complete their induction period in a substantive post."
The Voice education union has long called for the Government to ensure induction places for new teachers, as happens in Scotland, but little progress has been made.
Sara Bubb, an induction specialist at the Institute of Education in London, thought most of the new teachers taking supply jobs would be in the primary sector: "There's a dearth of jobs in primary schools outside London and the South East," she said. "I know NQTs who have found themselves up against 100 others when applying for jobs.
"And I share Keith Bartley's concern that supply is not the best way to complete an induction. Supply can only count towards the induction if it is for a term or more, and I wouldn't have thought new teachers are taking supply out of choice."
STAT'S A FACT
- 538,055 people are registered to teach, a 1 per cent rise on last year
- 9 per cent of registered teachers are from ethnic minorities
- 87 per cent of teachers registered are actually working as teachers
- 74 per cent of teachers are women
- 77 per cent of working newly qualified teachers are women
- 32 per cent of teachers are over 50
- There are 11,000 fewer teachers aged 45 to 59 than a year ago
- There are 10,000 more teachers under 45 than a year ago
- The number of supply teachers registered as working in schools has fallen by 1,200 in the past year
Source: GTC annual census, March 2008.