UK Suffers from Lack of Teacher Trainees

Category: Education/Family


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. profession / prəˈfɛʃ ən / (n) – a type of work that requires special knowledge or training and sometimes, even a license

    Her dream is to enter the medical profession at 27 years old.

  2. successive / səkˈsɛs ɪv / (adj) – following one after another without any gap or pause

    Their team won for three successive basketball seasons.

  3. salary / ˈsæl ə ri / (n) – fixed payment for work done

    They receive their salary every week.

  4. downward spiral / ˈdaʊn wərd ˈspaɪ rəl / (idiom) – a situation where something gets worse continuously

    People should seek help in times of crisis to avoid falling into a downward spiral.

  5. efficiency / ɪˈfɪʃ ən si / (n) – the ability to finish tasks without wasted time or effort

    The company grades its employees based on efficiency.


Read the text below.

Latest statistics show that the United Kingdom suffered a 7% drop in applicants accepted into their teacher training program for school year 2016-2017.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has recently reported that the current number of teacher trainee applicants would not meet the country’s need for future teachers. UK state schools rely on trainees to replace a big percentage of teachers who leave the profession. Because of this, they need to recruit a total of 30,000 teacher trainees yearly. However, only 26,000 applicants joined the training program last school year.

According to the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), the lack of future teachers is troubling, especially since state schools have failed to reach the recruitment target for five successive years. ATL pointed out that the teaching profession has become less attractive because of budget cuts, low salary, and unmanageable workloads.

In order to increase the number of recruits, experts suggested that major problems within the education system should first be addressed. Aside from proposing increased school funding, the Department for Education should also lessen teachers’ workload and increase their salary. Others have also suggested that teacher trainees should be given a salary, too.

At present, the lack of teachers has created a downward spiral in the UK education system. Unfilled teaching positions are distributed among the existing pool of teachers. As a result, these teachers suffer from increased workload and sometimes even experience a mismatch between their specialty and their assigned subjects. Most teachers also endure teaching despite broken equipment and lack of resources, which causes decreased efficiency. As a result, more than 10% of new teachers leave within their first year of teaching.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Aside from those mentioned in the article, what are other possible reasons why there is a shortage of teacher trainees?
• Do you think teachers who have previously left the teaching profession will come back if the problems are fixed? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• What are some reasons why teachers change professions?
• What actions should schools take to encourage their teachers to stay?