With 6 months to go until the start of next year's UK teacher training courses, 70% of places on physics courses remain unfilled — as do almost half of places for math teachers. The Training and Development Agency for Schools insists that numbers are up compared to last year while acknowledging there remains an âurgent need' for more recruits.
The shortfall is despite recent tiered bursaries being made available for subjects seen as key to the UK's economic future.
For the first time this September, £20,000 will be available for students with a first-class degree to teach maths, sciences and foreign languages.
Students with a 2:1 degree are set to get £15,000 to teach the most important subjects, while those with 2:2s could receive £12,000.
A report last week showed that nearly 50% of British adults were on par with the expected math ability of an 11 year old and were unable to properly manage family finances or even use transport timetables.
The generous bursaries highlight the government's commitment to increasing teaching standards and consequently the skill growth of its future generations. They come in the wake of recent announcements that a 2:2 is to be the minimum standard for all future teaching courses with state funding, excluding graduates with a third or worse.
In the past âgolden hellos', a £5,000 payment, were used to incentive graduates into training to teach math and science however these payments were abolished as part of an austerity drive. The postgraduate bursary scheme which provided living expenses to trainee teachers was also cut. The new system is in place to reward the most-skilled graduates with the most money, in a step towards meritocratic rewards that many feel are needed within the profession.
Hilda Frimpong, a mathematics and ICT teacher at St Cecilia's School in Wandsworth, south-east London, who has been enlisted by the TDA to promote the subject, said: "Maths is at the core of our everyday experience as well as many of our greatest achievements from the moon landing to the invention of the computer.
"We need to capture the imagination of students, and communicate just how exciting maths can be. I enjoy the daily challenge of doing this."