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Government ‘consistently missed’ trainee teacher recruitment targets – NAO

Targets on trainee teacher recruitment have been consistently missed despite costing the government and schools £677m, according to the National Audit Office (NAO).

Its research shows that the Department for Education and the National College for Teaching and Leadership fell below their 2015-16 target on trainee teacher recruitment by 6% (1,639 trainees), compared to 9% in 2014-15.

Secondary schools were worst hit, with 82% of places filled, whereas primary schools exceeded their targets by 16%.

Amyas Morse, head of the NAO, said: “Until the department meets its targets and can show how its approach is improving trainee recruitment, quality and retention, we cannot conclude that the arrangements for training new teachers are value for money.”

There were unfilled training places in 14 out of 17 subjects, compared to two in 2010-11. The subjects with the lowest proportion of training places filled were design and technology (41%), religious education (63%), art and design (63%), and business studies (64%).

The government previously missed teacher training targets in 2012-13 (by 1%) and 2013-14 (by 5%).

In 2013-14, the last year for which figures are available, teacher training cost the Department for Education £555m and schools £123m.

The department calculates that it has reduced its expenditure on teacher training in recent years, but it has not measured the cost to schools, so it is not known if the overall cost of teacher training has increased or decreased.

The region with the greatest number of trainees per 100,000 pupils was the north west with 547 and the lowest was the east of England with 294.

Between 2011 and 2014 the number of teachers leaving the profession increased by 11%, and the proportion of those who chose to leave the profession ahead of retirement increased from 64% to 75%.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers' union, said: “The fact that government has missed its recruitment figures for the past four years is a sad indictment of the effect their education policies are having on the profession.

She added that under the government teaching has become an unattractive profession and graduates are looking elsewhere for a career.

“Teachers' pay has fallen behind other graduate professions,” said Blower. “Excessive working hours and a punishing accountability agenda are making what should be the one of the best jobs into a very difficult one. Teachers are leaving in unsustainable numbers and, as the NAO's figures show, not enough new people are being attracted into teaching.”

Last month unions warned that the country is facing a national teaching crisis as a result of staff shortages and freezes to budgets and staff pay.

But a Department for Education spokesperson said: “This report makes clear that despite rising pupil numbers and the challenge of a competitive jobs market, more people are entering the teaching profession than leaving it, there are more teachers overall and the number of teachers per pupil haven’t suffered.

“Indeed the biggest threat to teacher recruitment is that the teaching unions and others, use every opportunity to talk down teaching as a profession, continually painting a negative picture of England's schools.”


Jojo   25/02/2016 at 14:29

I can't possibly imagine why a this career is falling in popularilty when there are so many benefits: -£21,000 a year starting salary (less than lots of other initial graduate jobs) -At least 55 hours a week to get most of your workload done -no time in the evenings to spend with your family/friends due to marking and other admin tasks. No, seriously, you won't see them. I don't stop working at home until gone 10.30pm most evenings (and I get into school for 7.30am) - this is due to the extensive marking that is now expected. Ticks aren't good enough, paragraph upon paragraph is needed per piece of work - when you teach 17 classes, each group containing around 25 students, you can imagine how much of an endless task this is. -being blamed for students not achieving high enough grades even when your own quality of teaching has been deemed as outstanding (you cannot force students to do work and revise, even when you offer after school revision sessions every evening). Why on earth wouldn't you remain in this career???? I can't possibly imagine. It's not the unions making it an undesirable profession, it's the reality of the job.

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