Teachers tend to reach peak performance after three to five years at the chalkface – but the challenge is keeping them in the profession for that long, says Ben Dunn

The economic uncertainty caused by Covid-19 led to a bumper year for teacher recruitment. In 2020/21 the Department for Education exceeded its own target (by 11%) for the first time in years with more than 40,000 new entrants starting postgraduate initial teacher training (ITT).

The good news continued into 2021/22, with 101% of the target recruited (37,000 new entrants), but things have declined in 2022/23, with 71% (23,000 entrants) recruited despite the targets being reduced (DfE, 2022a).

Unfortunately the news isn’t good for STEM subjects. In 2022/23, history recruited 133% of its target and PE recruited 143%. However, computing only managed to attract 30% and physics struggled at 17%. To put that into context, the DfE wanted 2,610 new physics ITT entrants and managed to attract 444.

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