Graduates flock to teacher training as incentives kick in

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The Independent Online

Applications for teacher training courses are up 18 per cent in a year, with strong rises in maths and physics, official statistics published yesterday show.

Applications for teacher training courses are up 18 per cent in a year, with strong rises in maths and physics, official statistics published yesterday show.

A total of 47,070 people have applied to start postgraduate certificate of education courses across the UK, compared with just under 40,000 a year ago, according to the Graduate Teacher Training Registry (GTTR).

In England, the number of applications has risen by 4,000 to 39,933 this year, with the biggest rises seen in traditional shortage subjects, suggesting that the Government's cash incentives have encouraged more graduates to consider a career in teaching.

Applications to teach English increased by 17 per cent, maths by 15 per cent and physics 20 per cent.

The biggest rise was in applications to information technology courses, up 69 per cent, possibly reflecting uncertainty in the computer industry. Teaching, as a "job for life", has traditionally attracted more recruits in difficult economic conditions.

A spokesman for the Teacher Training Agency said the figures were "extremely en- couraging" but warned that they measured applications to courses, not final recruitment on to training programmes. The increase in applications follows the Government's introduction of a package of financial incentives to en- courage more people into teaching in England.

Trainees in maths, science, English, modern languages, design or IT receive "golden hellos" of £4,000 when they start teaching in England.

Many student teachers also receive "training salaries" of £6,000, while a pilot scheme to be introduced in September will pay off some trainees' student loans.

Overall in England, there was a 9 per cent rise in applications to teach in secondary schools and an 18 per cent rise for primary schools.

Applications in Scotland saw a far bigger percentage rise than in England or Wales, increasing from 1,763 to 4,115 (133 per cent).

The GTTR said the huge rise had been expected as more teacher training institutions north of the border have joined its system this year.

In Wales, there was a 15 per cent rise, but this was driven by a 37 per cent rise in applications to teach in primary schools, which masked a very small increase of just 0.5 per cent in the number of secondary school applications.

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