Teacher shortage fuelled by pay caps, heads warn

23 Jun 17

Caps on public sector pay have driven an increase in teacher vacancies, the Association of Schools and College Leaders has claimed.

Department for Education figures published yesterday showed an increase in full-time teacher vacancies in English state schools from 730 in 2015 to 920 in 2016, represents a staff shortage of 0.3%.

A further 3,280 full-time posts, or 0.9%, were being temporarily filled by a teacher on a contract of at least one term but less than one year.

The ASCL, which represents head teachers and other senior school staff, said the recruitment problem was down to schools struggling to attract people to the profession.

General secretary Geoff Barton said: “The problem is that we aren’t attracting enough people into teaching in the first place, and then we are not retaining enough of them.

“The government has to lift the teaching pay cap and better incentivise teaching, and it has to work with the teaching profession to develop a career strategy which better develops and retains staff.”

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT called the figures “worrying”. He noted that, since 2010, there have been increasing numbers of schools with at least one advertised vacancy or temporarily filled post.

“We know that more teachers are leaving the profession, with over a third leaving within five years. This is unsustainable,” Hobby said.

“The additional impact of Brexit is also a concern, as teachers from the European Union make up 20% of new teachers registered every year.”

He urged the government to introduce a national strategy on recruitment as a matter of urgency.

School funding played a major part in the recent general election, as several teaching unions called for action to address the £3bn funding shortfall, which they claimed schools  were facing.

The government has said it is investing “record” amounts into schools, with the education budget hitting £42bn in 2019-20. However, an Institute for Fiscal Studies report in April indicated schools are facing real-terms cuts.

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