This article by Adi Bloom in the TES 25th January 2018

The latest Ucas figures reveal that there were 6,640 fewer applicants for teacher-training courses thus month compared with the same time last year

The number of applicants for teacher-training courses is 29 per cent lower than it was this time last year.

The latest figures from the university-admissions service, Ucas, show that there had been 16,010 applicants for teacher-training courses as of 15 January this year.

This is 29 per cent lower than the same time last year, when 22,650 applicants had applied to train as teachers.

Candidates can apply for up to three courses, meaning that there are more applications than there are applicants. Across all routes, there had been 42,650 teacher-training applications received by January this year, compared with 61,840 at the same time last year: a drop of 31 per cent.

In percentage terms, the gap between this year and last year’s applicants is reducing. This time last month, Ucas figures revealed a 33 per cent drop in the number of applicants for teacher-training places. And, in November, the gap was 40 per cent.

However, in numerical terms, the drop is greater this month, with 6,640 fewer applicants for courses than last year, compared with 6,510 fewer in December and 5,530 in November.

‘Close to the bottom line’

Applications from people wanting to train as primary teachers have fallen particularly dramatically, from 32,010 applications last year to 20,590 applications this year: a drop of 36 per cent.

John Howson, recruitment expert and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, says that teaching will always attract those who see it as a vocation. The problem is that it is failing to appeal to anyone else. “We’re getting precious close to the bottom line,” he said. “They’re not attracting the people who might consider it as a career. In fact, we’re losing them, and that’s very worrying.

“At primary, people are saying, ‘We’re not willing to spend that amount of money training to be primary teachers.’ The government needs to be paying people’s tuition fees, and reintroducing bursaries for everybody. They’re going to have to do something pretty dramatic.”

‘Record number of teachers’

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and more than 32,000 new trainee teachers were recruited last year: an increase on the previous year, which shows that teaching continues to be an attractive career.

“There are still more than eight months for applications to be completed for the 2018 intake, and we want to do all we can to help recruit talented trainees, which is why we offer a range of financial incentives in important subjects such as maths and physics.”

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