NQTs will feel the recruitment pinch

5th November 2004 at 00:00
New teachers could find themselves forced to teach bigger classes and non-specialist subjects next year, following the Government's failure to meet its targets for recruitment of new teachers in shortage curriculum areas.

The number of graduates taken on to teacher-training courses in maths, science, languages, music, religious education and design and technology in September were all well below targets set by the Department for Education and Skills.

Statistics released by the Graduate Teacher Training Registry show that the number of recruits on maths PGCE courses has increased from 1,663 last year to 1,710 this year - but the figure is still short of the 2,350 target.

In RE, numbers are up by 4 per cent to 588, but the figure is below the 730 teachers needed in the subject to cope with its surging popularity at GCSE.

In languages, 2,050 started teacher-training in September - 503 below the Government's target.

John Howson, TES recruitment expert and professor of education at Oxford Brookes university, said one possible solution would be to guarantee new teachers at least one year's work.

He added: "It's clear that the golden hellos alone have not worked and are not succeeding in getting enough people into shortage subjects."

But he believes the shortages could also have advantages for newcomers.

"In some subjects, more than a third of teachers will retire over the next three years," he said. "For some NQTs, this will lead to relatively rapid promotion and better job opportunities than for the last generation."

Sara Bubb, induction expert at London university's Institute of Education, said some schools are already addressing the shortage of subject specialists by creating larger classes.

New entrants may also find themselves being asked to teach subjects outside their specialisms, and that this could affect their induction, she said.

She added: "Under induction regulations, new teachers are judged on their standards in whatever subject they're teaching. So, if ICT teachers are taking maths lessons, they are going to be judged on those lessons as well.

And those lessons won't be as good.

"NQTs should scream for some professional development in subjects they're not qualified in - and get on courses, meet people and do self-study."

A spokeswoman for the Teacher Training Agency said the recruitment figures did not take into account school-based training courses, and that more candidates were likely to be recruited after the start of courses in September.

She added: "These allocations often change during the recruitment year as some training providers will request additional places, while others may reduce their numbers slightly."

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