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Education Low pay, excessive workloads and bureaucracy behind huge drop in teacher recruits, warns teachers union

LOW pay, excessive workloads and needless bureaucracy are to blame for a huge yearly drop in teacher training recruits, the National Education Union (NEU) warned today.

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

This includes around 25 per cent fewer trainees in English, maths and science.

It represents the fifth year in a row that the government has missed its teacher training targets.

The drop comes after tens of thousands of teachers left England’s schools before reaching retirement age last year.

The main problem is a high workload caused by over-scrutiny and a “lack of trust” in teachers, NEU joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said.

Mr Courtney said the latest figures are “the biggest drop I can remember of applicants in one year.

“It's not the hours but the nature of the work — producing evidence for bureaucrats is taking hours of teachers’ time.

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

The biggest decline in recruits to the profession were in citizenship and design and technology, at 67 per cent followed by music and history which dropped by 45 per cent.

National Association of Head Teachers senior policy adviser Ian Hartwright branded the recruitment crisis “a time bomb.”

He said: “There’s a real worry that we won't have the longevity in teaching careers with experienced senior leaders.

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

The Department for Education said applications opened a week later in 2017 than in 2016, claiming that “it wouldn't be right to draw direct parallels” between the two figures.

A spokeswoman said: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools — 15,500 more than in 2010 — and the fact that more than 32,000 new trainee teachers have recently been recruited in a competitive labour market, with historic low unemployment rates and a growing economy, shows that the profession continues to be an attractive career.”

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