So much has changed. Twelve months ago, applications for teacher training courses were the lowest they had been for several years. Then the world economy took a downturn that is likely to last for some years.
In such economic circumstances it is not surprising that applications from graduates for teacher training courses have increased. However, so far the rise is not stratospheric.
Among the largest gainers are the subjects most closely allied to parts of the so-called real economy. Applications for design and technology teacher training courses are up by 106 per cent in England compared with February 2008. Applications for home economics and business studies teaching courses are about two-thirds higher than at this time last year.
Other subjects with significant gains are biology (55 per cent up) and physics (36 per cent). There are also subjects that have so far recruited fewer applicants than at this time in 2008. These include citizenship, social studies and music. More surprising is the further decline in applications for IT teaching courses, which are down just over 4 per cent on this time last year to the lowest February number since 2002.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is the relatively small increase in applications for primary teacher training courses. These are up by a little more than 7 per cent, to just over 16,000 applicants for about 8,000 places, which is still less than two applicants per place. Maybe the market has not yet started to understand that rolls are rising in the primary sector, and this may be a good source of employment in the coming years
John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.