Government failing to help schools retain teachers, says PAC

31 Jan 18

The government’s response to school teachers quitting the profession in England has been “sluggish and incoherent”, according to the Public Accounts Committee.

A growing demand for school places and the government's call for schools to make efficiency savings has built pressure on the education system, the watchdog concluded, in a report out today on development and retention of the teaching workforce.

The group of MPs has called on the government to “get a grip on teacher retention” and have a “measurable plan to support struggling schools as a matter of urgency”.

PAC Chair, Meg Hillier said: “A crisis is brewing in English classrooms but government action to address it has been sluggish and incoherent.

“Instead they seem to have watched on, scratching their heads, as more and more teachers quit the profession.”

She added: “Government must get a grip on teacher retention and we expect it to set out a targeted, measurable plan to support struggling schools as a matter of urgency.”

Although, the teaching workforce increasing by 3.5% between 2010 and 2016, the number of teachers in secondary schools fell by 4.9% in the same period, the PAC highlighted.

Workload was identified as a major problem that was detrimental to staff efficiency.

A DfE survey from February 2017 showed classroom teachers and ‘middle leaders’ worked, on average, 54.4 hours a week.

To combat this, the PAC has made a variety of recommendations, including setting out a coherent plan for how it will support schools to retain and develop the teaching work force.

It also suggested the government monitor, through its periodic surveys of teachers, the impact of its actions to reduce unnecessary workload and set out how it will take into account the housing requirements of teachers, especially in high-cost areas.

The report noted the DfE had acknowledged it spent £555m annually on training new teachers and only £36m on development and retention programmes.

A Department for Education spokesperson told PF: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010.

“However, we want to help schools recruit and retain the best teachers. 

“We are consulting on proposals to improve and increase development opportunities for teachers across the country and working with teachers, unions and Ofsted to tackle unnecessary workload with specific support for teachers at the start of their careers.”

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