The Department for Education statistics on Initial Teacher Training: trainee number census 2017-2018, show that there were 595 students enrolling on EYITT courses, 25 fewer than last year. This is well short of the Government’s 2,400 target.
However, the statistics show the number of primary teacher trainees rose by 14 per cent, up from 11,290 in 2016-17 to 12,905 in 2017-18.
It is the third year that the number of students on EYITT courses has fallen, based on the data available.
The only year the Government came close to meeting its 2,400 target was 2013-14 (2,327 recruits). In 2014-15, the number of new starters fell to 860. There is no available data for 2015-16. The reason the DfE gave Nursery World for this omission is that the data collected was not considered sufficiently robust.
In 2016-17, there were 620 new entrants - these statistics have been revised from what was originally published. Every year within DfE's statistics on initial teacher training it confirms final data for the previous academic year. Originally, the DfE stated that 654 learners had started the EYITT in 2016-17.
Of the 595 new entrants to EYITT this academic year, 10 were forecast trainees (those expected to start after the statistics were collected) and 585 were new entrants.
The majority of those who started courses, 90 per cent, were on a postgraduate route. Of these, 79 per cent started on the graduate employment-based route, while 19 per cent went through the graduate entry route.
School standards minister Nick Gibb said, 'There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and the fact that more than 32,000 new trainee teachers have been recruited in a competitive labour market, with historic low unemployment rates and a growing economy, shows that the profession continues to be an attractive career. These numbers build on last year’s figures, with 1,100 more graduates training to teach and the number of them holding a first-class degree now at record levels, meaning we’re attracting more of the best and brightest into our classrooms.
'Of course, we want these figures to continue to increase, which is why we recently announced generous bursaries and other financial incentives to encourage even more talented trainees to key subjects, such as maths and physics. This will help us to continue to deliver a world class education to pupils, with latest figures showing 1.9 million more children now in good or outstanding schools than in 2010.'
The Department for Education added that it continues to make EYITT places available each year for those who want to undertake the qualification. It said that training providers request the number of places they consider they can fill each year based upon their view of the demand of places locally. Previous demand for places and available budget is also taken into account.
Liz Bayram, chief executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY), said, ‘PACEY is deeply concerned that that the shortage of new EYTs, combined with rising costs and low funding for the "free" entitlement, could lead to a sharp decline in the number of specialist graduates working in early years settings. This is a problem firstly because studies across the globe have linked quality to qualifications, and graduate leadership in particular. Secondly, the early years sector struggles to recruit and retain its staff because of low wages and poor career progression. EYT qualifications are one of the few career pathways available to early years practitioners, and more needs to be done to sustain this progression route.
‘PACEY and Voice are currently conducting a joint study to better understand how many graduate-level teachers are leaving the early years profession and why – and how this trend can be reversed. If you are an EYITT course leader, a fully-qualified Early Years Teacher, or a current or former student enrolled in an EYITT course, we need to hear from you.’
Steven McIntosh, director of UK poverty at Save the Children, said, ‘We know that children who start behind are likely to stay behind. A lack of development in the early years undermines their chances of success throughout school and in life.
‘Yet efforts to increase nursery quality appear to be in reverse. Great childcare led by graduate early years teachers has a big impact on young children’s development, but fewer and fewer people are starting the training. At this rate it will be 17 years before there are enough qualified nursery teachers in the country.
‘The Government has recognised the importance of improving the quality of early years education. But now is the time to turn this ambition into a reality. If we don’t act now, hundreds of thousands more children will be left behind.’
Save the Children is also conducting an Early Years Teacher survey.