John Howson

There has been unprecedented increases in the number of applicants accepted for places on postgraduate ITT courses in the month between Mid-April and Mid-May. Mostly, these offers were to applicants already in the system. The number of applicants domiciled in England was just over 30,600 by Mid-May 2020, compared with nearly 29,400 in May 2019. This meant that there were some 4,000 new applicants since mid-April, a not dissimilar increase to that seen during the same period in 2019.

The increase in applicants covers all of the reported age groups, with the smallest increase from those aged Twenty Two at the time of application. Proportionally more male applicants than female applicants were recorded during the past month, taking the number of male applicants to over 10,000 for the first time in this recruitment cycle.

However, it is the dramatic increase in numbers of applications shown as ‘placed’; ‘conditionally place’ or ‘holding an offer’ that is the real story this month. Especially, it is the surge in the numbers ‘placed’ in many subjects compared with last month that is most interesting. Of course, applicants can make a number of applications, and be offered places by each, so we need to allow some time to pass while applicants decide which provider’s course they really want to attend where they have had multiple offers.

These figures are not yet enough, by themselves, to solve all the teacher supply problems, since acceptances in some key shortage subjects have yet to reach the level required to be certain that the Teacher Supply Model number will be met. However, the super-tanker that is teacher supply looks as if it is changing course as a result of the pandemic. Next month, and the behaviour of the new crop of graduates, will provide more evidence of the view of teaching, as either a safe haven in an economic crisis or a risky profession best avoided.

Interestingly, there has been a drop in the number of applications to providers in the North East of some 300 compared with May 2019, whereas in London there have been nearly 1,500 more applications that at Mid-May 2019.

In the primary school sector, School Direct Fee courses and PG Teaching Apprenticeships seem to have been the main beneficiaries of applications, whereas School Direct Salaried applications are some 600 below this point last year. Perhaps these applicants have been switched onto Apprenticeship Courses as a more cost effective option to schools.

The pattern in the secondary sector is similar, with School Direct Fee courses gaining around 1,000 additional applications compared with the same month in 2019.  By contrast, the School Direct Salaried route had almost exactly the same number of applications, but fewer offers than by May 2019. Of course, applicants at this time of year must apply where there are places still available and that may affect the balance of applications between types of provider and across different subjects.

With the teacher job market collapsing during May, it isn’t clear what the future holds for teachers and trainees. Much to be done over the next few months and I hope there are the people with the necessary skills to tackle the issues.

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