Recruiting hit by fees fear

28th November 1997 at 00:00
The Government's glossy advertising campaign to recruit more teachers is being undermined by the student fees debacle, say university training departments.

Faced with a teacher shortage, particularly in subjects such as maths and technology, ministers resorted to cinema adverts featuring David Attenborough, John Cleese and Jeremy Paxman.

But the latest figures from the Graduate Teacher Training Registry are understood to be 10 per cent down on the recruitment figures at this time last year - the lowest total since the early 1990s.

According to the teacher-trainers, ministers have failed to emphasise that the new Pounds 1,000 tuition fees do not apply to one-year postgraduate training courses.

Meanwhile, some universities believe their undergraduate training courses could collapse, causing further trouble for shortage subjects.

The Government has insisted on charging fees to students on the two-, three- and four-year undergraduate courses (the BEd), even though these account for 1,500 much-needed students in maths, science and technology.

"There are very few people who are aware of the fees waiver for postgraduate courses," said Mary Russell, of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers.

"We believe this is part of the problem. At the same time, some of our members believe there's a danger that tuition fees will finish off shortage-subject undergraduate courses altogether."

This week the Government released its targets for recruitment to training courses, primary and secondary. For the first time it has also published details of the statistical model it uses to work out long-term needs.

There will be a substantial increase in primary trainees. Under the Conservatives it had been assumed that 10,900 primary staff would be taken on next year. This has now been revised to 11,500 staff.

The targets for English have seen a dramatic increase, reflecting its role as a subject in danger. Meanwhile the foreign languages target has seen a substantial drop - despite a lack of new recruits.

John Howson, a recruitment analyst, said: "The key thing is to ensure long-term planning is possible for the providers. It is as if they are facing the Grand Old Duke of York. The targets are marched up to the top of the hill one year and straight back down the next."

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