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Labour warns of teacher training crisis after targets missed again

Labour warns of teacher training crisis after targets missed again Science & Technology World Website


Labour has accused the government of presiding over a crisis in teacher training after it failed to hit the necessary recruitment levels for a fifth year in a row.

Not enough trainee teachers began courses in more than three-quarters of subjects, with maths, physics, design and technology, computing and business studies all falling at least 15% short of their targets.

About 6,000 trainee teachers began courses after achieving a 2:2 or lower in their degree subject, and less than half of trainees are studying for their qualifications in universities, Labour said. 

The only subjects to meet the required recruitment levels were PE, history, biology and geography, while English and chemistry narrowly missed them.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, said it amounted to a teacher training crisis that would lead to shortages.

“Every year the government miss their targets and it’s subjects that are crucial to our future economy that are worst hit,” she said. “The Tories really need to get a grip on this. They are failing in their most basic job in education – providing enough teachers for our schools.”

However, a spokeswoman for the Department for Education (DfE) disputed the idea of a crisis, saying the figures showed that teaching “continues to be an attractive career”.

“Secondary postgraduate recruitment is at its highest level since 2011 and we have recruited more trainees in key subjects including physics, maths, modern foreign languages, biology, chemistry and geography than we did last year,” she said.

“The quality of new entrants also continues to be high, with 18% of this year’s cohort again holding a first-class degree – the highest on record and up from 10% in 2010-11. This shows that teaching is as popular as ever among the most talented graduates. 

“But we recognise that there are challenges, which is why we are investing more than £1.3bn over this parliament so we can continue to attract the brightest and best into teaching.”

Recruitment was up by 12% in maths this year compared with last year, and by 15% in physics.

The National Union of Teachers has previously said there is “increasing evidence of a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention, just as the number of pupils and the demand for new teachers begins to increase sharply”. 

It attributed the problems in attracting new recruits to “excessive workload and attacks on pay [that] are driving away teachers”.

In June, the public accounts committee criticised the DfE for having no plan for how to meet its targets and failing to understand “the difficult reality that many schools face in recruiting teachers”.

Almost one-third of teachers who began their career in 2010 quit the classroom within five years of qualifying, according to government figures.

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