Headlines: November 19th, 2009

For the first time the number of people recruited onto teacher training courses has exceeded Government targets. The targets are set to meet the predicted need for new teachers for different subjects and age groups and the Training and Development Agency for Schools says that this year they have all been met or exceeded.

The Department of Children, Schools and Families target for Maths teachers, where historically there has been a problem in attracting enough entrants, was for 2,685 trainees. The actual number recruited was just short of 2,900. Numbers of trainees studying science teaching have also exceeded expectations with 3,701 people signing up against a target of 3,405. Recruitment to priority secondary subjects was up 17 per cent overall.

The TDA is also reporting improvements in the quality of the teaching workforce. The proportion of people starting training with a 2:1 degree or better is up from 56 per cent to 61 per cent for primary school teaching and from 53 to 58 per cent for secondary teaching compared with last year. The Agency’s Chief Executive, Graham Holley, said the figures were a significant milestone in teacher training. “Considering that we have not met the challenging Maths target alone before, this is a monumental achievement,” he said.

Mr. Holley acknowledged that the recession had been a factor in people opting to enter teaching and added: “But we have been able to capitalise on the upsurge in interest in teaching only because of all the work we undertook beforehand and the swift targeted interventions that we made in London and throughout the country.” Schools Minister Vernon Coaker said teaching had been transformed in the past decade and was now the number one choice for graduates.