Government ‘failing to recruit and retain enough teachers’

24 Nov 17

The government is failing to recruit enough teachers and stopping current staff from leaving the profession, school leaders warned today.

A survey of 800 head teachers by the National Association of Head Teachers revealed that teacher recruitment has been reported as a significant problem for the fourth consecutive year.

The number of heads who reported they struggled or failed to recruit across a number of roles had risen from 78% in 2014 to 79% in 2015 and 2016, reaching 80% this year.

NAHT deputy general secretary Nick Brook said: “Despite four years of warnings by NAHT, the recruitment crisis continues unabated.

“The government is still failing to provide enough teachers for our growing school population.

“The recruitment pipeline is leaking, with insufficient numbers of newly qualified teachers coming into the system and too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely.”

In 2014 9% of those surveyed said budgetary pressures were to blame for the recruitment problem but this has jumped to 33% this year.

Retention is another area of concern. For the first time school leaders were asked if they were aware of any of their staff having left the profession in the last year for reasons other than retirement - 66% said they were.

Workload [84%] and work-life balance [83%] were given as top reasons for this. 

The NAHT cited a report from the National Audit Office from September, which found that the government’s efforts to improve teacher training and retention have failed to demonstrate a positive impact or value for money.

It said the Treasury must now provide additional resources to resolve the funding crisis.

The NAHT report stated: “The school funding crisis is preventing schools from paying the salaries that will attract or retain teachers.

“Schools need fair and equitable funding that reflects the challenges that they face when recruiting and retaining staff and ensures that all schools have equal access to the best teachers.”

Today’s survey comes after the chancellor announced there would be more investment in maths, including £600 for every A-level student who takes maths, as well as plans to train 12,000 computer teachers and more support for adult re-training.

He also announced there would be £40m to provide extra training to “improve the quality of teaching” in a pilot project in some under-performing schools in England.

Angela Rayner, shadow education secretary, said: “Instead of giving our teachers the pay rise they need in [the] Budget, the chancellor refused to find even a penny of new money for teachers' pay, while pushing ahead with the steepest cuts in school budgets in a generation.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said since 2010 more than 15,500 teachers had been recruited but the government recognised the challenges facing schools.

“That is why we continue to invest significant sums in teacher recruitment with £1.3bn up to 2020 being invested in teacher bursaries to attract the best and brightest into the profession,” they added.

The spokesperson said a ‘workload reduction toolkit’ would be released in the spring of 2018 to give school leaders and teachers practical tools to remove unnecessary workload in schools.

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