Ministers warned of crisis in teacher recruitment

Trainee teachers at the lowest level since 2007

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Education experts last night warned of a looming teacher shortage crisis after official figures showed that the Government had missed its recruitment targets in key subjects for three years in a row.

The numbers of trainee teachers has fallen to their lowest level since 2007. There are now serious fears that schools will struggle to recruit enough staff next summer.

The disappointing figures also cast doubt on the Government’s drive to encourage more students to study science, engineering and maths.

Overall, 93 per cent of vacancies for trainees were filled this year – with 32,543 new teachers taking up posts. This is down from last year when 95 per cent of posts were taken by 32,779 entrants, according to official statistics released yesterday.

Only art, history, English, physical education and chemistry recruited enough new teachers. The other sciences under-recruited, with 67 per cent of places for physics filled and 85 per cent for biology. Maths fared a little better  with 88 per cent of the targeted places filled. Just 44 per cent of the targeted number of design and technology teachers were recruited.

Professor John Howson, a teacher workforce expert and an honorary professor at Oxford University, said: “This is the third year running the Government has failed to hit its recruitment targets in key subjects and the second consecutive year in which it failed to recruit even half the number of design and technology teachers that it needs.”

Tristram Hunt, the shadow Education Secretary, said: “A shortage in qualified teachers and soaring class sizes is damaging standards in our schools.”

But a Department for Education spokesman said: “We always allocate more places than are needed to ensure a high-quality supply of teachers across England’s classrooms, we never expect to fill 100 per cent of allocated places and we are confident we will continue to meet future demand.

“Despite a tightening labour market, trainee teacher recruitment is holding steady – with low vacancy rates in priority subjects like maths and science.”