Bureaucracy blamed for 'biggest ever drop' in teacher training applications

Teaching is facing a "time bomb" as training applications fall by a third.

Bureaucracy has been blamed for "the biggest drop" in people wanting to train in the profession in recent years, an education union said.

The number of teacher training applications went down from 19,330 in December 2016 to 12,820 in 2017, according to Ucas figures.

Applicants for English, maths and science fell by around 25%.

This is the fourth consecutive year teaching has struggled to recruit and comes after tens of thousands of teachers left England's schools before reaching retirement age last year.

Experts warn of a "huge knock-on" effect if the trend continues.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary for the National Education Union, said it is "the biggest drop I can remember of applicants in one year".

He said while low pay was an issue, the "mind-numbing scrutiny" and "lack of trust" teachers are subjected to was the main problem.

Mr Courtney said: "It's not the hours but the nature of the work - producing evidence for bureaucrats is taking hours of teachers' time.

"The workload is not only causing problems with people leaving, but now with people coming into the profession.

"Every teacher feels like they are under scrutiny the whole time. It's mind numbing, it's demeaning and that needs to be addressed.

"It's about the status of teachers and putting trust back into the profession."

The figures also found:

  • Citizenship and design and technology saw the biggest declines, both of 67%

  • ICT was the only subject that had an increase, of 10%

  • European languages fell by 29%

  • Music and history dropped by 45% or more

In reply, the Department for Education said there was a "record number of teachers" in schools, with 15,500 more than in 2010.

A spokesperson said applications opened a week later in 2017 than in 2016, "so it wouldn't be right to draw direct parallels" between the two figures.

"We want to do all we can to help schools with recruitment which is why we have a range of generous bursaries designed to recruit more teachers in important subjects such as maths and physics.

"We are also creating a free website for schools to publish vacancies to help reduce costs and make it easier for aspiring and current teachers to find new posts," they said

Ian Hartwright, senior policy adviser at the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Not only are we not bringing enough people into the profession but we are failing to retain the ones already there.

"There's a real worry that we won't have the longevity in teaching careers with experienced senior leaders.

"The knock-on is huge, there's an enormous workload problem - it's a bit of a time bomb.

"We need professional, high-quality teachers in front of children if we are going to do the best for the children we serve."