Low pay, confusing training routes and poor staff morale have been blamed for a fall in teacher training applications.
Figures from UCAS recently showed that teacher recruitment numbers have dropped by a third. In December 2017, 12,820 people had applied to begin ITT – down from 19,330 the year before.
The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said, “It’s alarming, I think, particularly as we know there are going to be another half a million children coming through the system over the next nine years.
“It’s pretty disastrous for a profession which is going to need more teachers.”
Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said, “We wish the Government would stop using soundbites to manage a very real problem. It is impossible to massage away a drop of nearly a third of applicants and in particular the drop of a third in female applicants. If the Government loses female graduates from teaching we will face a huge problem.
Unions say an immediate pay rise will help to increase teacher training numbers
“This situation has arisen through a combination of ill-thought out Government measures. An unacceptable workload driven by accountability measures that treat all teachers as incompetent, in addition to low graduate pay, are not only driving many out of the profession but are also deterring new graduates from entering teaching.”
Mr Courtney also highlighted confusion around the various routes into teaching. The Government lists five different routes on its website – University School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), the School Direct Training Programme, School Direct (salaried) and the Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship. Many people apply for several routes.
Mr Courtney added, “The lack of any national system of pay progression also needs addressing. Pay levels have fallen behind other graduate professions, which is impacting on recruitment and retention.”
Mr Courtney said that after seven years of “real-terms pay cuts”, a group of unions – the NEU, along with ASCL, NAHT and UCAC – had called for an immediate 5% pay rise for all teachers.