PGCE Mathematics with Economics- why we need more Economics teachers
George Bernard Shaw once wrote that if you laid all the economists in the world end to end, they’d still never reach a conclusion. Sadly, the line of economics teachers in the UK is getting shorter just as exam entry data shows the subject is gaining in popularity.
Economics has seen the highest rate of growth of any A level subject since 1999, with numbers doubling as more schools and colleges offer it as an option. Yet, there is a disaster in teacher recruitment. The number of trainee economics teachers studying for a PGCE in 2021/22 was just 20. In fact, since 2017/18, there have been only 40 new entrants. This data refers to starters- not all will complete the course or enter teaching. This compares to over 1800 new Maths teachers in 2021/22, 758 in Chemistry and 444 in Physics.
Source: GCE- Trends- Summer 2022, JCQ
Data on the current stock of teachers in the subject is hard to find as numbers are often coupled with those for business, not all of whom will be comfortable teaching economics. And since September 2022, the DfE no longer counts the number on an economics PGCE separately. This should be sending alarm bells. In a reply to my email asking for a bursary for new Business and Economics PGCE trainees, the DfE response was that there was a “focus on the EBacc subjects”.
A bursary specific to economics would signal the value of the subject and the supply shortage. It is long overdue.
The University’s PGCE Mathematics with Economics programme was introduced in 2021/22 and has seen strong applications from graduates and career changers interested in teaching both subjects. Many economics degree courses include a significant maths or statistical element- course requirements are a grade B in both subjects at A level. Many have a degree in economics, bringing more subject specialists into teaching. The £24 000 Maths bursary paid to trainees on the programme is welcome.
The course prepares PGCE trainees to teach both subjects with separate sessions focused on developing economics teaching. Jonny Peppiatt (PGCE Maths with Economics 2021/22) writes of his experiences on the course here.
We hope this is one of several initiatives that do something to boost the number of new teachers in our great subject.