Lack of science and maths teachers on School Direct scheme

England risks a shortage of science and maths teachers next summer, a leading recruitment expert has warned.

The government’s new School Direct scheme is recruiting too few trainee teachers in key subjects, says Oxford Brookes university’s Prof John Howson.

Some three-quarters of trainee physics teacher places on the scheme are unfilled, says Prof Howson. The government said numbers of physics teacher trainees were “now at their highest level since records began”.

From September about a quarter of the funding for teacher training will switch from universities to School Direct.

School Direct is the controversial new scheme that has been put in place with the aim of trying to give more ‘on-the-job’ experience of teaching than what universities provide. It has two routes: salaried and unsalaried, which like a Ronseal advert, are exactly what it says on the tin.

However these places are not being filled as much as the government are hoping for. Here is a breakdown by subject;

For physics, 75% of salaried trainee places were still empty at the start of August, as were 77% of unsalaried places.

In chemistry, some 63% of salaried places were unfilled and 57% of unsalaried places.

For maths, the figures were 56% and 61% respectively.

Recruitment for trainee biology teachers was stronger, with 71% of salaried places filled but only 43% of unsalaried places.

To the government, these figures are disappointing. But to me they’re not. I am horrified to see the government transferring budgets to Universities which have already faced drastic cuts, into a scheme that clearly is not producing the numbers of teachers that the government are hoping for. Not only does cutting down the University budgets mean Universities need to cut back on what they can provide, devaluing the degrees, but it’s being replaced with a clear failure of a scheme, leading to less qualified teachers graduating each year, which surely would mean a massive shortage of teachers, providing a much weaker education system than the one we have now.

The government can say whatever rubbish they like about the number of highly qualified graduates moving into maths and science teaching, but it’s clearly not through their scheme. University degrees look a whole lot better on a CV than a School Direct scheme, so instead of pumping money into trying to flog a dead horse, put that money back into the universities and make the degrees as valuable as possible. We have countless numbers of universities offering teaching degrees, and the government are basically trying to systematically destroy them, and as an undergraduate of a university, I find that despicable. There is no substitute for 4 years of extensive reading and understanding as well as practical experiences, so trying to find one is just another sign of the incompetence of the current government.

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