According to a recent survey, a number of head teachers have claimed that recruitment is becoming an increasing struggle with four in five schools finding it difficult to fill vacancies. The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has reported that 59 per cent of schools advertising for teachers ‘struggled’ to gain applicants and a further 20 per cent failed completely to fill their empty vacancies.
The latest survey which was carried out on 2,100 school leaders showed 79 per cent of school leaders had issues filling their empty vacancies. Head teachers have suggested this shortage could be due to the negative attitude towards the profession which hasn’t been helped by limited increases in pay.
Russell Hobby, the leader of the NAHT, believes that schools around Britain are now in crisis mode when it comes to recruitment. According to the survey which is due to be presented to the Education Select Committee, schools are on average spending £3,000 per vacancy and this can often run up to £10,000.
Mr Hobby believes that the government need to develop a better way of engaging with the profession to see improvement. “Teachers need to believe they can and do make a difference”. However the biggest issue being faced according to the leader of the NAHT is the perceived gap between unions, schools and the government on the scale of the shortage.
The Department for Education has continually maintained that the number of teachers in initial training is at “an all-time high”. But if this is the case why are 79 per cent of schools still struggling to recruit? The Schools Minister Nick Gibb told the Education Select Committee who are investigating the extent of the shortage, that using language such as ‘crisis’ over teaching shortages runs the risk of “talking down the profession further”. Mr Gibb continued to say that the number of teachers entering the initial teacher training programme has never been higher and the quality of teacher was also improving.
So is Mr Hobby exaggerating the situation or are the government underestimating the crisis? What is clear is that even though the government have attracted a record amount of teachers this year it still isn’t enough. For a third consecutive year the government have missed their teacher training target. So surely this means the situation isn’t fully under control? Should the government start listening to Mr Hobby who thinks the government need to make the profession attractive again? And if so, how can they make the profession attractive again?
One suggestion was to offer incentives to enter teaching so that teachers can pay off tuition fee debt, but Mr Gibb believes that bursaries currently up to £30,000 are a more effective encouragement. The excessive workload faced by all teachers has been one of the key reasons identified for teachers leaving the profession and further exacerbating the recruitment problems, so surely this is an issue needing to be rectified as a priority. Nicky Morgan initially stated that her six point plan would look to reduce the workload… however nothing seems to have been done.
What is clear is the government need to rectify a lot of issues within the profession, firstly to entice people to train and secondly to stop people leaving. But how can should this be done? As a teacher where do you feel the issues lay? And how would you look to solve them? Have your say here…
For more information regarding the current recruitment landscape, we have produced our own report here.