From education to employment

Initial Teacher Training Census- Sector Response

  • The Department of Education’s own statistics have shown that the number of new entrants to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) had dropped by 5% in just one year. 
  • Maths Teacher recruitment has shown a sharp decline with just 63% of the ITT target reached, a fall of 25% from the previous figure of 88%. 
  • Only Classics, Physical Education and History have reached their targets. 
  • Almost all subjects recruited fewer teachers this year with physics recruiting just 17% of the teachers needed, up just 1% on last year.

These shocking statistics come after Rishi Sunak’s pledge earlier in the year for all school children to be taught maths until the age of 18. 

Commenting, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Munira Wilson MP said:

“The Prime Minister’s plan to continue maths teaching to 18 means nothing without the extra funding and staff to make it happen. You don’t need a maths A-Level to know there are simply not enough maths teachers. 

“Schools are already struggling with a shortage of teachers across the board and today’s figures will be devastating for the sector.  The Conservatives have no plan to turn around the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.”

A DfE spokesperson said:

“We are taking the long-term decisions to build up incentives, cut workload, and increase the routes into the teaching profession.

“This year we have seen Initial Teacher Training recruitment improve in key subjects like biology, physics and computing.

“We are boosting our recruitment incentives with special bonuses of up to £30,000 after-tax over the first five years of their career for those who teach key subjects.”

Further information:

  • Recent data has shown that schools in England now have more teachers than ever before nearly 470,000 teachers in the workforce, a 27,000 increase on 2010. 
  • Teachers will get a 6.5% pay award beginning in September and starting salaries are now at least £30,000, which recognises the hard work of teachers and leaders. 
  • Since its launch, the Department has made considerable progress delivering its Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy to attract, retain and develop the highly skilled teachers needed to inspire the next generation.  
  • We welcome the recent findings from the National Foundation for Educational Research which showed that teacher training bursaries are cost effective at increasing long-term teacher supply. 
  • For 2024/25 and 2025/26, we will be doubling the rates of the Levelling Up Premium to up to £6,000 after tax. Currently, the premium is worth up to £3,000 after tax. Teachers working in disadvantage schools in the first five years of their careers, teaching mathematics, physics, chemistry and computing are eligible. 
  • The Government is spending more than ever before on schools in real terms, at nearly £60 billion and we’re backing our teachers with the largest pay award for over three decades from September. Alongside this we’ve met the manifesto commitment to give teachers a minimum starting salary of £30,000.

Read the full data here.

Sector Response

Catherine McKinnell MP, Labour’s Shadow Schools Minister said:

“The Conservatives are overseeing a catastrophic shortfall in teacher recruitment which is leaving children without the expert teachers they need.

“Ministers have no idea how to reverse this trend — simply relying on the good will of staff going above and beyond to try and plug gaps.

“Labour will make teaching attractive once more, tackling additional pressures such as student mental health with specialist mental health professionals in schools, and giving teachers new opportunities for professional development to retain more of our brilliant school staff.”

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This catastrophic shortfall in postgraduate trainee teacher recruitment has plumbed new depths. Just half of the required number of trainee secondary teachers have been recruited and there are huge deficits in maths, physics, computing, modern foreign languages and other subjects. It is even worse than last year – which was itself a new low point – and follows years of missed targets. The government has in fact missed its target for secondary subjects in every year since 2012/13, except for a short-lived uptick in numbers during the Covid pandemic in 2020/21.

“The supply of new teachers is simply not sufficient to meet the needs of the education system, and we then lose far too many early in their careers. Our schools and colleges must have the teachers they need in order to deliver a great education to our children and young people. It is the vital resource upon which every target and ambition depends. However, just this week, the latest PISA international study found that a lack of teaching staff was reported to be the most common barrier to teaching in England.

“As former Schools Minister Nick Gibb has himself said there’s only one real answer – a properly well-rewarded teaching profession. Yet, the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement provided no more money for education and this makes any meaningful pay award unaffordable next year. This is on top of 13 years of pay erosion which has left teaching salaries lagging behind in the labour market.

“We appeal to the government to see sense and take action. There is simply no issue in education that is more important than fixing the broken teacher pipeline.”

Daniel Kebede, General Secrtetary of the National Education Union, said;

“Another year of this Government missing its own initial teacher training recruitment targets. Last year’s figures seemed as bad as it could get but this year it has recruited just 50% of the number of secondary trainees it says it needs. Among secondary subjects, only history and PE currently have enough trainee teachers, and for many subjects the picture is catastrophic: at a time when the Prime Minister is pushing increased maths provision, we are recruiting less than two-thirds the amount of maths teachers required to meet even current demand.

‘The Government has still not recruited the full number of primary teachers needed, either. The effects of this failure are felt in schools up and down the country, with school leaders unable to recruit teachers in many areas, existing staff left overworked, and pupils being taught by non-specialists in too many cases. But recruitment is only half the sorry story. We still lose over 30% of trained teachers withing the first five years of their career, and record numbers of teachers are quitting before retirement age.

‘Everyone who knows a teacher, knows how hard they work, how intense the job is, and that few would recommend it as a career to others. Graduates have lots of options and teaching is not looking like one for them currently. Children and young people deserve better; teachers love to teach but the circumstances they work in are unsustainable.

‘These figures show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, already serious, is getting even worse.  The recruitment and retention crisis will not be solved without the fully funded, above inflation pay rise, and urgent action to tackle sky-high workload, for which the NEU is campaigning.”

Jack Worth, School Workforce Lead at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), said:

“Today’s dire teacher training recruitment data confirms that teacher supply is a critical issue facing England’s education system. The shortfalls being so universal – 15 out of 18 secondary subjects missing their targets and not just in the usual shortage subjects – should be of enormous concern to policymakers. The Government needs to take urgent and radical action to improve the attractiveness of teaching as a profession to enter and remain, by enhancing bursaries and other financial incentives, reducing workload and improving the competitiveness of teachers’ pay. Without such action, the quality of pupils’ education – particularly in disadvantaged areas – will be increasingly affected by these shortages.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“These deeply worrying figures provide the starkest evidence yet that schools are in the midst of a full-blown teacher recruitment crisis.

“Missing the secondary target by 57% overall, and in all bar three subjects, while expected, speaks to government’s abject failure to create a compelling proposition for a career in teaching.

“The primary shortfall was a more modest 4%, but to a large extent this is due to a cut of a fifth (21.2%) in the primary target, made in April 2023. The reduction in the target from 11,655 to 9,180 has not been fully explained by DfE. The result is that this year there were 8,844 new entrants compared to 10,640 in 2022/23 (when the target was missed by 9%). It’s perhaps interesting to note that the primary intake this year was only 76% when compared to the ITT recruitment target for 2022/23.

“Put simply, this means that despite the best efforts of school leaders to plug gaps, some pupils may not be getting the consistency or depth of teaching they deserve. More are being taught by teachers with no qualification in the subject they are teaching, by teaching assistants, or by often costly supply staff

“Staffing vacancies in schools add to already unsustainable workload among teachers and leaders, and can harm their wellbeing, prompting more to consider their future in what should be a richly rewarding profession.

“The government must scrap its failed recruitment and retention strategy and replace it with a new vision which restores teaching and school leadership as career graduates aspire to. This must include action to tackle oppressive levels of workload, fundamentally reform Ofsted, and reverse more than a decade of real-terms pay cuts.”

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