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Decline in teacher training applications a serious concern to the profession, says NAHT

New figures released today by UCAS show a worrying decline in both the number of people applying to become teachers and those accepted onto teacher training programmes. Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, comments:

“The government has yet again failed to meet its own recruitment targets, and for the first time in several years has failed to meet the target in primary.

“We know that school leaders are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit the right staff. A recent survey of our members showed that there was a recruitment problem across all roles for the third consecutive year, with one in five posts difficult to recruit to and respondents unable to recruit at all to an average of 17 per cent of posts.

“The government still refuses to recognise that there is a recruitment problem in teaching and is falling short of its core responsibility to guarantee enough teachers of a high enough standard to meet the needs of our growing school population.

“The UCAS figures also show that there has been a 7% decline in the number of applications for teacher training courses. This is seriously concerning and shows just how much damage is being done to the teaching profession.

“Teachers’ pay is not keeping pace with other graduate professions. The STRB last year recommended that the teaching profession needs an increase ‘significantly higher’ than 1% to address recruitment problems. But school leaders know that the crisis in school funding will make this impossible.

“Schools are facing a £3bn shortfall in funding by 2019, with 98 per cent set to be worse off at a time when costs are rising and pupil numbers are growing. Schools cannot afford to pay salaries that can compete with other professions. Whilst teaching is an undeniably fantastic career choice, highly trained graduates know they can earn more elsewhere.

“School leaders should be able to expect the government to supply the basics for them to educate with – sufficient funding, decent quality buildings and, crucially, appropriately trained teachers. The teaching profession is currently struggling to attract the best and brightest, and this will negatively impact on the quality of education if not resolved.”

First published 11 January 2018