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30,000 new teachers to be recruited by 2020, but ‘it’s not too ambitious’

New report collated by Northern Lights SCITT shows how teacher recruitment and training is changing

Back in September 2016, it was reported that the UK had more teachers in schools than ever before, this was reported by Secretary of State for Education, Rt. Hon Justine Greening MP. However, Greening also admitted that the challenge for teaching is to make sure that the profession remains an attractive and desirable career for young people. So far, teacher numbers have managed to keep up with the increasing number of pupils in the past few years, but recruiting teacher trainees is getting more and more difficult.

Over the past five years, targets for teacher recruitment in the UK haven’t been hit. Primary based teacher training has just about managed to hit target and secondary subjects such as Geography, Biology and History exceeded targets. But unfortunately, subjects such as Mathematics, Physics and Computing are really struggling to gain traction from aspiring teachers. North West Yorkshire based SCITT, Northern Lights, is led by Skipton Girls’ High School, the 2017 Enthuse UK STEM Secondary School of the Year, and offers training in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) subjects.

“Despite an established reputation as a provider of high quality STEM learning for both pupils and staff as a regional Science Learning Partnership, Northern Lights has experienced the same challenges in recruiting trainees to these shortage subjects.   I am a Physicist myself and am passionate about giving our students the best opportunities.  That means we need subject specialists in our schools.”  Kate Walter, SCITT Director at Northern Lights

Between 2015 and 2016, the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers increased by 0.1% from 456.9 thousand to 457.2 thousand, but even though this number is increasing, in the same period, the number of newly qualified FTE teachers has decreased from 10.4% to 10.1%

Demographics; the majority of teachers are females in their 30’s

Last year, the government reported that a huge 73.9% of all FTE teachers are female and 80.2% of all school staff, including support staff and teaching assistants, are female. These figures have near enough stayed static since 2010 and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon – more than two thirds of initial teacher trainees who started in September 2016 were females. To add to that, only 1 in 5, who were training to become primary school teachers were male.

Kate Walter, Northern Lights believes that we need to challenge these traditional stereotypes – more men in primary teaching and more women in Science.

However, a demographic that is slowly changing is the age of teachers - teachers are getting younger – back in 2010, 23% of teachers were under 30, last year 24.9% of teachers are now under 30.

The future of teacher training

In July this year, the Department for Education reported that almost 800,000 extra pupils would be enrolled at state schools within the next decade, which the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts will mean that around 30,000 new teachers will be needed in the profession by 2020.

“This target from the Institute of Fiscal Studies doesn’t seem too ambitious. Last year 27,000 people started training courses to become teachers. However, the challenge we have as a profession is retaining the teachers who have relevant qualifications in the subjects and regions struggling to recruit.” Kate Walter, SCITT Director at Northern Lights

The future of initial teacher training is changing. The number of new entrants to training programmes decreased by around 700 from 2015/2016 to 2016/2017, with 27,053 trainees across HEI and school led training. But the most staggering recruitment statistic last year was that 56% of teacher trainees were on a school-led approach, a staggering 23% increase since the 2013/2014 academic year. Kate Walter, Northern Lights is a firm believer in in the school-led approach due to the numerous benefits the trainees gain;

“Applicants to teacher training are recognising the strengths of learning “on the job”, working alongside experienced teachers in the classroom.  They are able to learn by doing and gain instant feedback from current practitioners.  Their professional learning as a group is evidence based with the majority of sessions delivered by outstanding specialists in Alliance schools.  What better way to learn.”