Schools could be faced with massive shortage of teachers

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The Independent Online

Schools will be faced with a massive shortage of teachers if the Government goes ahead with plans to make it harder to enter the profession, says a report out today.

Shortage subjects like maths, science and modern foreign languages will be the worst hit, it reveals.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has said funding for graduates with less than a 2:2 pass will cease under his government. Details of his plan on teacher training are likely to be included in a White Paper later this autumn.

However, an analysis of teacher training recruits by Professor Alan Smithers and Dr Pamela Robinson, from Buckingham University’s Centre for Education and Employment, says latest figures show this would mean 430 fewer science trainees (as many as 26 per cent of the entire physics intake), 410 maths trainees and 131 modern foreign languages trainees.

All three subjects already find it difficult to recruit to their target levels.

The findings emerge in the annual Good Teacher Training Guide, which measures the performance of teacher training course in England.

“The Coalition Government’s teacher training policies do not add up,” say the authors.

“The latest figures indicate that the proposal would be impractical for a number of subjects,” their report adds.

“Poor teachers are bad news for pupils but is it better for physics pupils to be taught by a well-qualified biologist than someone who has studied the subject at university even without success.

“Michael Gove is putting the cart before the horse. Improving quality depends on attracting sufficient applicants to be able to choose those who can make subjects come alive for children..”

The study, which highlighting the dilemma in these subject areas, reveals that history (78 per cent), drama/dance (76 per cent) and English (73 per cent) have the highest percentage of teacher trainees with a top-level degree pass.

“It does mean that children are more likely to find themselves with knowledgeable teachers in subjects like history and English than in maths, the physical sciences and ICT,” it says.

“Given the importance of high quality teachers this is likely to have bearing on the subject choices of the pupils and how well they do.”

The report is also critical of drop-out rates from teacher training courses, revealing that less than three-quarters of trainees (72.1 per cent) actually make it into the classroom. The biggest drop-out rate is among language teachers where only 61.5 per cent actually finish up teaching..

Mr Gove’s proposal was criticised by teachers’ leaders when it was first announced. They claimed the brightest graduates did not necessarily make the best classroom communicators. It was also revealed that – under the Conservatives’ proposals – their own maths tsar Carol Vorderman would not have been able to teach as she only had a third degree.

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The Coalition Government’s top priority for the schools workforce is to improve the quality of teachers.

“The countries which give their children the best education are those which value their teachers most highly and where the profession attracts the brightest graduates.”