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Physics: Teachers

Question for Department for Education

UIN HL4437, tabled on 20 December 2022

To ask His Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of Initial teacher training: trainee number census 2022 to 2023; and in particular, the finding that the recruitment target for physics has been missed by more than 80 per cent.

Answered on

5 January 2023

23,224 postgraduate trainees have been recruited for 2022/23, which is a 20% decrease from 30,093 in 2021/22. This is 71% of the Postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (PGITT) target, down from 97% in 2021/22.

Teacher recruitment has been challenging for several years, driven by increasing demand for teachers in particular phases and subjects, and a competitive graduate labour market.

As expected, the unprecedented increase in new entrants to ITT because of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020/21 has declined over the past 2 years. The graduate and general labour markets became more competitive and pay has risen in competing sectors, especially in priority Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.

Some STEM subjects face more recruitment challenges than others and this is reflected in their performance against the PGITT targets. For example, physics achieved 17% of the PGITT target in 2022/23. Mathematics and biology achieved 85% and 111% respectively in 2022/23.

The department launched a pilot initial teacher training course in spring 2022 called ‘Engineers Teach Physics’. Following the first year pilot for ‘Engineers Teach Physics’, it has been expanded to a second year with a national rollout. The department is continuing to work closely with sector experts, representative bodies and academic institutions to ensure that the course reflects best practice and includes the most up-to-date industry knowledge. This expansion will ensure that this programme will be available to more trainees across the country, further ameliorating the shortfall in physics teachers.

The department has also announced funding for physics for those training in 2023/24. A £27,000 tax-free bursary or £29,000 tax-free scholarship in chemistry, computing, mathematics, and physics reflects the priority the department places on training teachers to teach STEM subjects.

Additionally, the department is offering a Levelling Up Premium worth up to £3,000 tax-free for mathematics, physics, chemistry, and computing teachers in the first five years of their careers who work in disadvantaged schools, including in Education Investment Areas. This will support the recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most. The department is also extending eligibility of the physics bursary to all non-UK trainees.

The manifesto commitment to raise the starting salary for teachers to £30,000 remains as important as ever.