Pearson report urges education secretary Michael Gove to encourage more people to consider teaching careers

The Government has been urged to encourage people to consider the benefits of teaching jobs, after new figures showed that the number of primary school teaching vacancies could rise in the near future.

A report by Professor John Howson for the Pearson Think Tank found that graduate and postgraduate primary teacher training courses received around a sixth (17%) fewer applications this year than in 2011.

Professor Howson, who is managing director of, an Oxford based research company, said one of the reasons for the sharp drop was the rise in tuition fees, and he noted that morale among many teachers is low.

He also warned that there could be serious staff shortages in the classroom in the future as pupil numbers are increasing quickly.

The number of pupils in maintained nursery and state-funded primary schools is expected to rise by 8% in the next three years.

Professor Howson said: "A perfect storm of falling teacher training applications, low staff morale and rapidly rising pupil numbers could easily create a future teacher workforce crisis in primary schools if left unchallenged.

"The Government needs to take urgent steps now, including higher bursaries for primary Initial Training Education to avoid a crisis in our schools which would impact on the education of thousands of pupils across the country."

He added that recent UCAS figures showed that a combination of the increase in student fees and higher entry requirements were responsible for the significant drop in applications to both undergraduate and postgraduate teacher training this year.

Director of the Pearson Think Tank, Professor Becky Francis, said: "The Government needs to act on the recommendations of this report to ensure that shortages don't undermine the quality of provision."

Several teaching bodies have backed Professor Howson's findings and are now urging education secretary Michael Gove to find a solution to the problem or face a chronic shortage of teachers in the near future.

However, the Department for Education said reports of an impending crisis in the classroom "could not be further from the truth".

The department added that the number of students who actually enter the profession, rather than apply for courses, rose in 2012.

Copyright Press Association 2012