John Howson

The latest data from UCA about postgraduate ITT numbers for September provides a first view of what the outlook for the year is likely to be. The September data will provide the basis for the likely supply of teachers into the labour market for September 2021 and January 2022 vacancies.

In view of the shock to the economy administered by the covid-19 pandemic, it is not surprising that there were nearly 7,000 more applicants in 2020 than in 2019. Up from 40,560 to 47,260 for those in domiciled in England. The number placed or ‘conditionally placed’ increased from 28,500 to 33,800. This is an increase of around 20% on last year.

The number of applicants placed increased across the country, although in the East of England the increase of only 120 was smaller than in the other regions. In London, the increase was in the order of an extra 1,000 trainees placed on courses compared with 2019.

More applicants from all age groups were placed this year, although the increase was smaller among the youngest age group of new graduates. This might be a matter for concern. Over, 2,000 more men were placed this year, compared to 4,500 more women. This is proportionally a greater increase in the number of men placed.

There was much more interest in secondary courses, where applications increased by nearly 14,000 to more than 81,000. For primary courses, the increase was near 6,000 to just over 53,000. The difference may be down to the date the pandemic struck home, and the availability of courses with places still available at that point in the cycle. Many primary courses will already have been full by March.

Higher education seems to have been the main beneficiary of the wave of additional applications. Applications to high education courses increased from 55,000 last year to nearly 65,000 this year. Applications for apprenticeships reached nearly 1,600 and there were 1,800 more applications to SCITT courses. The School Direct fee route attracted nearly 6,500 more applications. However, the School Direct Salaried route only attracted 200 more applicants this year, and the number placed actually fell this year, by around 300 to just 1,470. Does this route have a future?

In most secondary subjects, more applications are recorded as placed this year than last. Geography, languages (where classifications have changed) are the key exceptions, with fewer recorded as placed than last year. Even in physics, there has been a small increase on last year. However, the increase in design and technology is not enough to ensure the DfE’s Teacher Supply Model (TSM) number will be reached. This is also likely to be the case in physics, chemistry and mathematics. Fortunately, in the sciences, there are far more biology students than required by the TSM number.

I am also sceptical as to whether all the history and physical education trainees will find teaching posts in their subjects next year, because the excess of students placed to the TSM number is such that it is difficult to see sufficient vacancies been generated even in  a normal year. If fewer teachers laves than normal, then the excess may be significant and these trainees might well want to look to any possible second subjects they could teach.

At this point in time, it looks as if 20202/21 round will start with a significant increase in applications over the numbers at the start of the last few years: we shall see.

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