The Welsh Government has missed its own target for new secondary trainee teachers by 40%, while the primary school trainees target was missed for the third year running.
According to recent statistics, 2017/18 saw 525 (20 less than 2016/17) new entrants to secondary level courses for Initial Teaching education (ITE) courses, 346 (40%) short of the target of 871.
Meanwhile, there were 670 (30 less than 2016/17) new entrants to primary level courses, 80 (11%) short of the target of 750. This means 370 fewer students gained Qualified Teacher Status in 2017/18 than 4 years before, down by a quarter from 2013/14.
In addition, figures indicated that Wales was becoming a less attractive region for young graduates to train as student numbers from England have fallen by over half (54%) in the last five years.
The number of ITE entrants from Wales on secondary school courses in Wales dropped by 37% over the last 4 years, the number starting to train in England increased by 34% over the same period.
The numbers of ITE students in Wales coming from Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the rest of the EU are all smaller than five years ago too.
The numbers also indicate consequences for another area of Welsh Government policy – the target of one million Welsh-speakers by 2050, as the number of students able to teach in Welsh is at its lowest point since 2007/08.
Of those who spoke Welsh fluently (305 out of 1,200 total entrants), 38% (115) were not even training to teach in Welsh.
The number of students training to teach in Welsh has been declining since 2013/14 and was 215 in 2017/18 – nearly the same as ten years ago. Of the 1,200 ITE entrants, only 210 trained to teach in Welsh (20 unable to speak fluently), 110 fewer than five years before.
Commenting, Welsh Conservative and Shadow Minister for Education and the Welsh Language Suzy Davies AM said:
“These figures tell us the new Lib Dem broom in Welsh Government hasn’t swept in a new enthusiasm for teaching in Wales. The decline of Welsh students training in Wales might be explained by their own school experiences after 20 years of Labour Government.
“Whatever the reason, the decrease in trainees show the Welsh Government’s attempts to halt the existing teacher recruitment crisis in Wales have proven impotent. Future pay-rises might help but it’s good conditions, morale, and leadership which matter most to teachers.
“Meanwhile, with more Welsh students going to train in England and fewer English students crossing the border to here shows Wales must dramatically improve its offering for young people beyond its few graduate opportunities, low pay, and weak economy.
“Also, the Welsh Government have come up with an ambitious policy for a million Welsh speakers by 2050, but have made no impact on the number of those training to teach in the language. Will this be the downfall of Cymraeg 2050?
“While good schools see their core funding cut by councils at the same time as curriculum change, some may wonder whether teaching is for them. This new reality and its implications are the product of two decades of Welsh Labour-led Government.”