Commenting on the latest Government statistics for Initial Teacher Training (ITT), Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:
“This is the seventh year running that the Government has failed to recruit enough trainee teachers, based on its own targets. Only 85% of the required number of potential secondary teachers started training in September, continuing a worrying year-on-year trend, and the target for primary trainees was also missed. These targets in any case underestimate how many teachers are actually needed in the coming years.
“The Government is still failing to account for historic under-recruitment, and is not doing enough to prevent so many teachers leaving the profession. One third of new recruits leave within five years of entering teaching.
“The Government also routinely fails to recognise the educational risks of not doing enough to recruit teachers across all subjects. In today’s results we see we only recruited half the number of required physics teachers and only two thirds of the needed trainee teachers in maths, modern foreign languages and chemistry .
Where targets have been met, for instance in English, shortages nonetheless exist across the existing workforce. In some areas of the country these shortages are significantly worse.
“Most subjects outside the Ebacc are missing their recruitment targets, as these subjects are devalued in the curriculum.
“Pupil numbers in state-funded secondary schools have already risen by almost 150,000 since 2014, and will rise by a further third of a million pupils over the next five years.
“Even where trainee targets have been met, recruitment to ITT courses is just the very start. New teachers need dedicated support to help them develop into competent professionals. Once we have invested in their skills, we must not lose their passion and experience to workload and other pressures. In addition, we must ensure good teacher supply where it is needed - many primary schools still report problems with teacher recruitment.
“Unmanageable workload, excessive accountability and restraint on pay has created a teacher recruitment and retention crisis entirely of the Governments own making. The current Government shows no signs of budging on any of the issues which anger teachers and drive far too many out of the profession. Teachers are an investment and on 12 December we have the opportunity to initiate real and positive change for education.”