UK Recruitment Figures: Subjects with the Biggest Shortage of Teachers

UK Recruitment Figures: Subjects with the Biggest Shortage of Teachers

The UK Government has revealed that it missed its secondary teacher ITT recruitment target by 50% in 2023. Only Physical Education, History and Classics reached or exceeded their specific subject target numbers. Though some other subjects came close to reaching their goals, such as Biology hitting 93% of its target number, there are a great deal more subjects falling well below their desired numbers, with Geography attaining 56%, and Art and Design 44%, for example.

There are five subjects, however, that have proven particularly difficult to recruit for secondary ITT, recording strikingly low numbers in comparison to other secondary subjects.

Which subjects are these? What will be the most challenging secondary subjects to recruit for in 2024? Where is the UK currently struggling to recruit teachers?

4. Modern Foreign Languages (MFL)

  • Modern Foreign Languages include those most commonly taught in secondary schools, such as French, Spanish and German.
  • It can also, however, incorporate different languages such as Mandarin and Italian.
  • Despite there being a range of different languages that form MFL as a subject area, of their 2960 target, the UK government recorded just 974 Modern Foreign Language ITT Teachers.
  • This means that the percentage of this target achieved was 33%.
  • The 2022 recruitment figure for MFL was also 33%, making there both a 0% loss, and a 0% improvement in MFL ITT numbers.

=3. Design & Technology (DT)

  • The Design and Technology subject area can also encompass a number of different paths.
  • This includes but is not limited to:
  • Food Technology, Resistant Materials, Electronics, Textiles and Product Design
  • Again, despite there being a wide variety of specialisms under the DT umbrella, the UK government recorded a Design and Technology ITT recruitment figure of 580 out of a target of 2110.
  • The percentage of this target achieved was just 27%.
  • In 2022, a percentage of 24% was recorded. Though 2023 brought a 3% increase, the overall figure remains very low for DT.

=3. Music

  • Though teaching Music can be varied, involving singing, teaching various instruments and creating original pieces of music, to give just a few examples, it was a subject that also struggled to recruit in 2023.
  • Of their 790 target, the UK Government noted that 216 ITT Music Teachers were recruited.
  • Only 27% of Music’s target was achieved, matching DT’s figure.
  • Unlike DT, however, Music suffered a 35% loss from 2022’s 62%, making it not only one of the least recruited for subjects, but one of the largest target percentage drops.

2. Physics

  • It is no secret that Physics is a shortage subject in the UK, with the Government having introduced the International Relocation Payment (IRP) as an incentive for international Physics (And MFL) teachers to relocate to and teach in the UK.
  • Despite being a core aspect of UK Science curriculum, Physics recorded just 487 ITT Teachers in 2023, out of a target number of 2820.
  • The percentage achieved of the 2820 target was just 17%.
  • In 2022, 16% of the Physics ITT target was met. Though there was a 1% increase in 2023, Physics remains one of the most challenging subjects to recruit for, and one of the most in demand in UK schools.
  1. Business Studies
  • It was, in fact, Business Studies that recorded the lowest ITT recruitment target percentage in 2023.
  • Business Studies, though not a core subject or one that every school offers, can often be chosen as an option subject for GCSE examinations, and then studied further at A-Level.
  • Of its 1195 target, Business studies recorded only 190 ITT entrants.
  • This left it with the lowest percentage of all secondary subjects, 16%.
  • In 2022, Business Studies met 34% of its ITT recruitment target. This is a loss of 18% in 2023.
  • Between 2020 and 2023, Business Studies’ recruitment percentage has dramatically dropped from 97% to 16%, making it one of the most problematic subjects for the UK government to recruit for.

The very low figures for these five subjects, alongside other subjects with falling recruitment rates, have no doubt contributed hugely to the Government missing their overall secondary target by 50%. Though they have introduced the IRP as an incentive for MFL and Physics teachers, it is unknown what effect this will have on the 2024 figures, and whether the same subjects will remain the most challenging to recruit for.