Ministers have had some success in tackling maths and science teacher shortages in recent years, but problems remain.
The number of new maths trainee teachers has risen by 67 per cent from 1,200 in 19989 to more than 2,000 in 20023, as incentives such as pound;6,000 bursaries and pound;4,000 "golden hellos" have borne fruit. Numbers of science recruits are also up.
However, both these figures are well short of government targets. In 20034, maths and science recruited only 84 and 88 per cent respectively of their targets, which have been missed every year since the mid-1990s.
Action on recruitment is urgently needed because of the numbers leaving teaching. The Government's maths inquiry estimated that 8,900 qualified maths teachers stopped teaching the subject between 1996 and 2003, while only 5,500 were recruited, a net loss of around 10 per cent.
Fewer students are taking maths and science A-level. Physics A-level entries are down 30 per cent, and maths down 11 per cent since 1992, which means that there will be problems recruiting suitably-qualified teachers in future.