Teacher recruitment crisis – the worst since the Second World War

Schools are facing the worst teacher recruitment crisis since the Second World War, but there is little recognition of this in the mainstream media and little comment from the DfE.

I spoke to Professor John Howson, a renowned expert on teacher recruitment and you can see our discussion and read the TeacherVac report.

All targets have been missed for initial teacher education – although there are regional variations as you can see from the report. Quite rightly the DfE has always given priority to accrediting outstanding teacher training centres with the second priority being geographical need. At the end of the last academic year, it was reported that several outstanding centres had not been re-accredited and had to reapply. Is there a change in policy?

Work must be done to attract more mature entrants into teaching. This could be disillusioned graduates who made the wrong choice of career path or experienced people looking for a career change. We need to understand what motivates career changes and target accordingly.

We also need to focus on the retention of teachers – too many leave five to seven years into their career. This is a time when they are likely to be in middle leadership roles and may well be potential candidates for senior leadership. Workload is a factor in many cases, and it is critical that we look at where non-teaching duties can be taken on by paraprofessionals and other staff. We need to be ruthless in what we ask teachers to do – ensuring that they can focus on teaching and learning and interacting with children and young people. We all know that “Nobody Forgets A Good Teacher.” We need to be creative with flexible working and have keep-in-touch schemes for teachers on extended absence, for example parental leave.

John and I have a message for the new Secretary of State, Kit Malthouse – his most important job is to ensure that there are enough teachers. There are three issues that affect recruitment and retention; pay, morale, workload. We need to be honest about the workload – it is heavy and, at times, relentless. Teachers’ salaries need to reflect the hugely important job they do – education is critical for the future of this country. The one thing that does not cost anything is improving teachers’ morale. We want the Secretary of State to praise teachers for the outstanding work they do; teaching on-line and face to face throughout the pandemic; outstanding reading scores; recognising and being there for the child or young person. The NHS was given the George Medal, which was well-deserved, but teachers should have similar recognition. You can view the message here.

SSAT are partnering with TeachVac you can find out more about their services here or by email.

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