Teaching recruitment drive exceeds target

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The Independent Online

Geoff Haynes expected to take a pay cut of 60 per cent when he left behind his £45,000 salary as an accountant to become a maths teacher at a secondary school.

The 42-year-old, who has two children, is just one of many who are making the change. For the first time, teacher recruitment bosses have exceeded their target for recruiting maths specialists to the classroom.

This year's figures show that the number of maths applicants has risen 33 per cent to 2,897 – exceeding the target of 2,685 by 8 per cent.

Science, another area where there has traditionally been shortages, has seen a 40 per cent rise to 3,701 – 9 per cent above the target. And a breakdown of the applications for teaching shows that the quality of the teaching workforce has increased.

The percentage of people starting training with a 2:1 degree or better has risen by five percentage points to 61 per cent for primary school teachers and 58 per cent for secondary teachers.

Mr Haynes, who now teaches at the Thomas Deacon Academy in Peterborough, said of his switch: "I was working in the finance industry when I became a governor at my daughter's primary school. One of the things I had to do was spend a day in the school, and that was a revelation. I thought: 'This looks really good – I would like to do this.'"

Mr Haynes reckons that the recession has played the major part in persuading so many people to go into teaching as a career. Even with the prospect of massive public spending cuts he feels that Britain will still need maths and science teachers in the future – so the job is secure.

"I'm not motivated by money," he said. "I took on extra responsibilities which gave me an extra £2,000 a year – but that wasn't the main thing.

"On Friday, I was late back from work because I'd been with some maths youngsters who would be struggling to get a G or an F at GCSE. They've done personal finance and got the equivalent of a B – that's a great achievement."

His entry into teaching was cushioned by gaining extra increments for the experience he already had, and he only had to take a 40 per cent pay cut. His wife meanwhile has taken a job as a teaching assistant at the primary school that their daughter attends.

Is he worried about the impact of public spending cuts? "It is a concern, but only a minor concern," he said. "I was one of the ones that voted to get them [the Conservatives] in.

"Coming from where I've come from, I've got a good idea about the state of the economy. I consider myself to be lucky to be doing a job that I enjoy and where I can make a difference."

Teacher recruitment targets have been beaten in every subject for the first time.

Graham Holley, chief executive of the Training and Development Agency, said: "The increasing appetite for teaching maths and science is really encouraging."