Professor John Howson of Oxford Brookes University has suggested that the School Direct scheme, newly setup by the government, is recruiting too few teachers in some of the key curriculum subjects – pointing to an impending shortage of science and maths teachers in England.
According to the Professor’s research, three quarters of the positions set aside for trainee physics teachers remain unfilled – despite government claims that the number of people training to teach physics was the ‘highest since records began’.
The Teach Direct scheme, which from September will receive around a quarter of the funding which was previously allocated to universities to train teachers, is expected by the government to be the main source of training for almost 10,000 teachers. It is thought that teachers will benefit from more ‘on the job’ training.
However, research suggests that many of the places on the scheme (which includes both salaried and non-salaried options) are unfilled. The following figures outline the number of unfilled salaried [and non-salaried] places on the relevant teacher training courses through Teach Direct:
Physics: 75% [77%]
Chemistry: 63% [57%]
Biology: 29% [57%]
Maths: 56% [61%]
These shortfalls are made worse by the shortfall on PGCE courses for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects where around 40-50% of places remain empty. Professor Howson suggested that the improving economy may be making it more difficult to recruit people in to teaching as other jobs may be seen as more appealing.
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