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DfE Initial Teacher Training targets

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Target number of trainees to start postgraduate initial teacher training (PGITT) in 2023/24, as estimated using the Teacher Workforce Model (TWM).

Headline facts and figures – 2023/24

Overall trainee target (PGITT)

  • 35,540
  • Total 2023/24 target (9.0% increase on 2022/23 target)

Primary trainee target (PGITT)

  • 9,180
  • 2023/24 target for Primary (21.2% decrease on 2022/23 target)

Secondary trainee target (PGITT)

  • 26,360
  • 2023/24 target for Secondary (25.9% increase on 2022/23 target)


In order to provide a sufficient supply of new teachers in 2024/25, it is estimated that 35,540 trainees are required to start postgraduate initial teacher training (PGITT) in the academic year 2023/24. This is an increase of 2,940 (9.0%) on the 2022/23 postgraduate initial teacher training target and includes those to be recruited via the high potential (HPITT) training programme. 

  • The 2023/24 target for primary PGITT trainees has decreased by 2,475 compared to 2022/23, from 11,655 to 9,180 (a 21.2% decrease). 
  • The 2023/24 target for secondary PGITT trainees increased by 5,715 across fifteen subjects and decreased by 300 across three subjects, resulting in an overall increase of 5,415 compared to 2022/23, from 20,945 to 26,360 (a 25.9% increase overall). 
  • Targets have increased for all secondary subjects except classics, history, and physical education. 
  • The subject with the largest percentage increase in target is business studies which increased by 560 trainees, from 635 to 1,195 (an 88.2% increase). The EBacc subject with the largest percentage increase in target is geography, increasing by 540 trainees, from 945 to 1,485 (a 57.1% increase). 
  • Targets also increased for mathematics (45.1%), English (44.5%), modern languages (38.3%), and biology (34.6%). 
  • Targets have decreased for classics (16.7%), history (5.9%), and physical education (25.0%).  
  • The subject with the largest percentage decrease in target is physical education, decreasing by 245 trainees, from 980 to 735 (a 25.0% decrease). 

In addition to the publication of the PGITT targets themselves, we have published this year, for the first time, the calculations used to derive these targets as part of our ‘Calculation of 2023 to 2024 PGITT targets’ Excel workbook. This can be found on the main webpage of the publication, alongside a methodological annex that provides further details on the calculations. 

The key driver of whether the 2023/24 targets have increased/fallen for specific secondary subjects is the extent to which those targets have been adjusted to build in the impacts of recruitment being below target in the two ITT recruitment rounds before 2023/24. Further information may be found within the ‘Further methodological details and the drivers of 2023/24 PGITT targets’ section of this webpage. 

In particular, a larger adjustment than last year was one of the factors that led to increased targets for: business studies, chemistry, computing, design & technology, geography, modern languages, music, physics, and the group of subjects known as ‘others’. 

Similarly, five subjects that did not require an adjustment in last year’s 2022/23 targets did require an adjustment this year; leading to increased 2023/24 targets for art & design, biology, English, mathematics, and religious education. 

Targets have fallen for three secondary subjects this year: classics, history, and physical education. In all three cases, no adjustment was necessary, either this year or last, with increased supply from other routes helping to reduce targets such as more favourable returner recruitment forecasts.

Lastly, the primary target is lower this year, helped by primary-aged pupil numbers starting to fall more rapidly. In addition, recruitment and retention forecasts have become more favourable for primary this year than last, leading to both a reduced need for ITT trainees to meet future demand and the removal of the adjustment relating to recent ITT recruitment impacts that was used last year. 

It is important to note that recruitment to postgraduate ITT in 2023/24 is not limited for any subject. Therefore, although targets for certain subjects may have decreased compared to last year, this does not necessarily mean there will be fewer trainees recruited as a consequence – recruitment can exceed targets. 

Sector Response

NFER’s School Workforce Lead, Jack Worth, said:

“DfE’s published targets for this year’s initial teacher training recruitment (ITT) suggest even more new teachers will be required to meet schools’ future need for teachers compared to last year. DfE now expects to need more trainees than last year in subjects that are already struggling to recruit the required numbers, which will further compound the challenge of ensuring an adequate supply.

“Our updated forecast for ITT recruitment this year, based on applications so far, shows we are now expecting to recruit less than half of the secondary teachers that schools need. We anticipate that all secondary subjects except history, classics and PE will be below target this year. Without an urgent policy response to make teaching more attractive, schools will face increasingly intense shortages over the next few years, which are likely to impact negatively on the quality of education.”

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