John Howson

Yesterday, the DfE announced that

New teachers are set to receive a boost to their training and development amid a surge in applications to join the classroom since the outbreak of coronavirus.

While others will comment upon the first part of the announcement, it is interesting to note that the data released by UCAS today is not as straightforward as the DfE announcement would suggest.

Firstly, much of the surge in applications came between April and May, and was not continued into June. Now this may well be because there were fewer courses left to apply to by early June, as many had closed their doors. Thus, the total increase in applicants over June last year in the order of 2,500 or less than 10%. Of these, the majority of new applicants would seem to be for secondary subjects rather than in the primary sector. The basis for this statement is an interpretation of applications data and, if true, would be helpful.

The second thing to note is that not all secondary subjects have benefited to the same degree. Arts subjects, have seemingly seen lots more offers to applicants, but both physics and design and technology seem unlikely to meet the Teacher Supply Model number unless there are many more applicants over the next two months. The same is true for modern languages. The arts subjects also have more applications in the pipeline, so offers may rise further over the next month or so.

Not surprisingly, the increase in applicants have mainly come from career changers. New graduates don’t yet seem to have switched to teaching in a big way. Thus, applicants aged 22 or under have increased by just over 500 on a base number of over 9,000 whereas there are 550 more applicants in the 25-29 age bracket. This looks especially true for male applicants, where numbers of those 21 and under have increased by around 50 applicants, but the 25-29 age-group has increased by nearly 200 applicants.

Traditional routes into teaching seem to have benefitted the most. There are new additional applications for either apprenticeships or for School Direct Salaried routes with fewer applications for the latter route in the primary sector than in June last year and barely 100 more in the secondary sector. Higher education has attracted 3,000 more applications for secondary courses compared with June last year and now attracts not far from half or all applications for secondary courses.

It is not clear whether the furlough scheme has helped restrain possible applicants to teaching from applying in large numbers while they discover what will happen once the support scheme comes to an end. If there is mass unemployment then the opening months of the 2020/2021 recruitment round should witness some very large numbers. Later in the summer we will review what happened in the period 2008-201, last time applications grew rapidly.

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