The Department for Education has released its Initial teacher training census. This census shares provisional recruitment data for entrants into initial teacher training (ITT) programmes in England in the academic year 2020 to 2021.

Recruitment uptick 

In total there were 41,472 new entrants to ITT in 2020/21 compared to 33,799 in 2019/20. This is good news, as previously the government targets for recruitment in secondary subjects have been missed since 2012/13. This year recruitment hit 106% of its target.

We specialise in the recruitment of mid/late career changers and have also seen increased applications and interest in teacher training in our target market. We have seen a 70% rise in numbers of applications per month between March and May 2020 before our applications closed in June, and three times as many applications in October and November 2020 compared with the previous year.

Increasing age diversity amongst entrants

This increased interest from the over 40s is clear in the ITT census.

Number of entrants to teacher training who are aged 40+ between 2019/20 and 2020/21:

  • Entrants aged 40-44 increased 24%
  • Entrants aged 45-49 increased 8%
  • Entrants aged 50-54 increased 19%
  • Entrants 55+ increased 30%

This is very exciting for us at Now Teach where the average age of a trainee in our 2020 cohort is 47. It is our belief that the next generation should be taught by people with the widest possible range of backgrounds and experiences. Now Teach contributes to age diversity in schools, where over half of trainees entering in 2020/21 are under 25. Our oldest trainee was 65 when starting out.

As we all live longer, healthier working lives, it follows that there are many thousands of people who have enjoyed their careers but who are ready for a new challenge. 

The number of new teaching trainees aged over 40 has increased sharply since the first Now Teach cohort in 2017.

Increase in teaching trainees by age group, 2020 entrants compared to 2015/16 (two year average prior to foundation of Now Teach):

  • Trainees aged 40-44 have increased 41%
  • Trainees aged 45-49 have increased 40%
  • Trainees aged 50-54 have increased 73%
  • Trainees aged 55+ have increased 198%

We also heavily recruit people who may not have otherwise considered teaching:

  • 49% of our cohort say they would not have become teachers without Now Teach.

 Shortage subjects

 Whilst the overall picture for teacher recruitment is looking positive, there are still some targets for specific teaching subjects that have been missed. These include mathematics, chemistry, modern foreign languages and physics. This is an area where Now Teach punches above its weight:

  • 51% of Cohort 2020 are teaching STEM subjects
  • 16% are teaching modern foreign languages

We encourage applications for all subjects, and especially STEM subjects.  To find out what subjects you could be eligible to teach, visit our FAQs page.


Many attribute the boost in teacher recruitment numbers this year to the current economic downturn. Co-founder Katie Waldegrave says: ‘There is something deeply flawed about this notion of a downturn in the economy solving teacher shortage problems. It might mask; but it doesn’t solve. We must continue to improve the issues we know need solving: working cultures, flexible work, funding and so on.’

A significant proportion of teachers leave the profession within 5 years – a colossal waste of training and talent which impacts most significantly of course on pupils. The support that Now Teach offers therefore extends beyond the recruitment of trainees, to provide bespoke support to help career changers thrive in the classroom for the long term. 

92.5% of Now Teachers are retained in teaching one year after achieving QTS, compared to 85.4% of trainee teachers nationally.

A quarter of trainee teachers have said they wouldn’t still be teaching if it hadn’t been for Now Teach.

The retention of teachers is crucial if we are to provide young people with a world-class education.

Co-founder Katie Waldegrave said: ‘Beyond the impressive recruitment figures seen in the ITT census, the focus needs to be directed on the retention of these trainees in the early years of their careers. It is our hope that the more later-stage career changers we have in teaching, the more schools will successfully retain their staff. The corporate world has had the luxury of spending serious money on understanding how to hold on to people. I hope Now Teachers can bring some of what they have gleaned from their former worlds into their new ones.’

We look forward to celebrating the success of our most recent qualifying Cohort at a graduation celebration on the 11th of December. Keynote speakers include Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman and Dame Alison Peacock of the Chartered College of Teaching.