Recruitment to physics teacher training courses starting this year is down by over a third despite the government's plans to give a Pounds 5,000 "golden hello" to each student, writes Alan Thomson.
Figures revealed by Liberal Democrat education spokesman Don Foster show that recruitment up to Christmas for postgraduate certificates of education (PGCE) courses starting this autumn was down by 37 per cent (from 57 to 36 applicants) below the same time in 1997.
The number of trainee physics teachers on courses that started last autumn is already down 35 per cent below 1997-98. Physics applications at the same time in 1994 were 783.
Mr Foster told delegates at the North of England Conference in Sunderland that the golden hello policy to attract more people into maths and science teaching, which was announced last October, was apparently failing to reverse the decline.
Mr Foster also said the policy was nonsensical because it omitted trainee teachers in short supply in other subjects such as technology.
A spokeswoman for the Teacher Training Agency said that it was too early to predict the final recruitment figures for physics and other sciences. She said that the golden hellos would take time before their impact was fully felt on applications.
The latest graduate teacher training register figures show that as of December 19 last year applications to teacher training courses starting this year in chemistry were down by 7 per cent below the year before. In biology they were down 11 per cent and in maths 8 per cent.