Fewer teacher training applicants in Wales

A teacher stands in front of a white board in a classroom Image copyright Getty Images

Applications for teacher training places have dropped by a quarter in the past year, new figures have showed.

There were 740 applicants from Wales by mid December 2017, according to data published by the education service UCAS.

That compares with 1,000 applicants at the same time in 2016, and 1,010 in 2015.

The Welsh Government said it was early in the application cycle so the figures should be viewed with caution.

The 26% fall since last year comes despite new financial incentives for aspiring teachers.

Experts cite the perceived workload of teachers and lower financial incentives for teacher training in Wales compared with England as potential barriers to attracting applicants.

Aspiring teachers need to obtain a grade B, or above, in their GCSEs in English and maths, as well as two A-levels, before they can start their training programme.

Those planning to teach pupils aged three to 11 (early years and primary) must also have achieved a grade C, or above, in a GCSE science subject.

Hayden Llewellyn, chief executive of the Education Workforce Council (EWC), the independent regulator in Wales for teachers, said data from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCW) also showed teacher training institutions had struggled to recruit to Welsh Government targets over the last three years.

"This under-recruitment mainly relates to certain secondary subjects such as mathematics, English, the sciences, modern foreign languages and Welsh.

"Clearly graduates in such subjects are in demand and may choose not to train as teachers," he said in a statement.

Rebecca Williams from the Welsh teaching union UCAC said she thought there were a number of issues behind the fall in applications.

"One of them is teacher workload - and the perception of workload on teachers," she said.

"By now, I think salaries are part of the problem as well, because of the freeze on public sector salaries."

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Media captionTeacher training: Why the drop in applications?

The pay scale for newly qualified teachers in Wales is from £22,917 to £33,824 a year.

In October the government announced that graduates with a 1st class degree or a PhD or masters degree undertaking a postgraduate teaching degree in maths, Welsh, computer science, physics and chemistry would receive a £20,000 incentive.

Modern language students would receive a £15,000 incentive.

"In Wales we experience challenges in recruiting to certain subjects and in certain geographical locations. This is the challenge we must, and will, rise to," Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said at the time.

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We want Wales to be attractive for students training to be teachers.

"At the end of last year, we announced new and improved incentives to teach priority subjects such as physics, chemistry, computer science, maths, Welsh and modern foreign languages.

"We are also reforming the way in which initial teacher education is delivered, putting in place new accreditation criteria and strengthening the ways in which schools and universities work together."

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