Extra central government funding should be targeted at keeping more maths and physics teachersby Luke Sibieta / May 11, 2018 / Leave a comment
The teaching profession in England is in trouble. Applications to teacher training this year are down by around 30 per cent compared with this time last year. Exit rates have also been creeping up over time and only 60 per cent of teacher trainees are actually in post five years after starting. Overall teacher numbers are currently holding steady. However, with pupil numbers expected to grow by 4 per cent in primary schools and 20 per cent in secondary schools over the next decade, teacher numbers are going to need to rise if class sizes are not to increase.
The problem also appears worse in some particular subjects, such as maths, physics, chemistry and languages, where training targets have been persistently missed over time and more teachers leave early in their career. As a result, pupils are less likely to be taught by a teacher with a degree in that subject—for example, in 2016, 45 per cent of maths teachers and 51 per cent of physics teachers had a relevant degree, compared with two thirds of history and English teachers. These figures are particularly concerning for a government that wants more pupils to take these subjects and to increase the depth of subject knowledge at GCSE.
Such instability in the teacher labour market—recently analysed by the Education Policy Institute—probably has many causes, such as workl…