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Great Britain

'Alarming': Government misses teacher training targets for seventh year in a row despite major staff shortages in schools

Education experts have condemned the government's failure to hit targets for recruiting secondary teachers for the seventh year running as schools suffer a staffing crisis. 

Key subjects, including maths and science, were among those worst affected despite a national advertising campaign aimed at attracting greater numbers into the profession.

Just over two in five (43 per cent) of the physics teachers required were recruited, compared to 47 per cent last year, new Department for Education statistics revealed.

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Last year, nearly three in four (71 per cent) of the maths teachers required were recruited - but this year, this fell to 64 per cent, the figures show. 

The government only met 85 per cent of its postgraduate trainee recruitment targets for secondary schools in total.

Overall, a total of 29,580 new postgraduate trainees were recruited this year in England, an increase of just 365 extra teachers at a time when secondary school pupil numbers are set to grow rapidly in the next few years. 

The figures come after the government scrapped numeracy and literacy skills entry tests for prospective teachers to pass in a bid to ease the path into the profession. 

Other subjects that have fallen short of the recruitment targets include computing, chemistry and modern foreign languages  – the latter of which fell from 88 per cent last year to 62 per cent.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “More trainee teachers have been recruited this year than last year but the problem is that it isn’t enough to meet the numbers needed for teaching the rising number of secondary school pupils. 

“The Department for Education has missed its targets for maths, modern foreign languages and physics by a country mile which is alarming as there are serious teacher shortages in all these subjects.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “The government is still failing to account for historic under-recruitment, and is not doing enough to prevent so many teachers leaving the profession. One third of new recruits leave within five years of entering teaching.

“Unmanageable workload, excessive accountability and restraint on pay has created a teacher recruitment and retention crisis entirely of the government's own making.”

Earlier this year, former education secretary Damian Hinds unveiled plans to give teachers extra payments to stop them deserting the profession as he admitted many currently work “too many hours”.

The government is set to offer some new teachers in England an additional £5,000 in their third and fifth years in the classroom as part of its new strategy to stop them quitting.

The DfE declined to comment. 

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