A SIGNIFICANT drop in demand for postgraduate teacher training courses is revealed in the first official figures on applications for higher education places this year.
Numbers applying for places on secondary Postgraduate Certificate of Education programmes for 1997/98 is more than 18 per cent lower than it was this time last year, data released this week by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service shows.
There is also a fall of more than 7 per cent in applications for primary PGCE courses. Across both types of courses, there are 2,963 fewer applications this year - a drop of more than 12 per cent.
The news is another blow for teacher training providers already under strain from school heads threatening to withdraw from teaching practice partnerships, a new round of Ofsted inspections and the prospect of a national curriculum for teacher training.
Institutions will struggle to meet the Government's goal of a 2 per cent increase in secondary teacher training numbers by the turn of the century.
Mary Russell, secretary of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, suggested that the deteriorating image of the teaching profession, student debt, demographics and the lifting of the recession, were all to blame.
Anthea Millett, chief executive of the TTA, said it was too early in the admissions cycle to draw any conclusions from the figures.