Recent research carried out by the NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) has shown that over 60% of school leaders who took part, struggled to recruit teachers for leadership roles, with over a quarter of senior positions advertised in the UK left unfilled last year.
Statistics have shown that 50% of head teachers are set to retire in the next 10 years, with 25% of these looking to retire within the next year. Also, with 67% of deputy head teachers showing no ambition to move further up the ladder lots of schools will desperately be looking to recruit leaders.
The NAHT survey was conducted on 1,178 school leaders from across the country who stated that Maths and English proved to be the hardest roles to recruit for. A total of 40% of schools failed to fill their empty Maths vacancies and 32% of all English vacancies were left unfilled. Possibly the most significant finding is that this crisis is not necessarily down to the lack of teachers applying, but down to the quality of candidates. 40% of leaders blamed a shortage of teachers for the crisis; however a total of 41% said it was down to the poor quality of the candidates applying. Tristam Hunt believes that this is down to the fact teachers are allowed to work without qualified teaching status, labelling them as unqualified. But is this really affecting quality? Louis Coiffait, who leads NAHT Edge, a service set up to help teachers with management responsibilities stated “we are facing a recruitment crisis at all stages of the education system. Until we address it… there’s no chance that we will have the quality or quantity of head teachers we need in the future”.
According to the leaders asked, 73% expressed concern about newly qualified teachers (NQTs’) ability to control pupil’s behaviour in lessons, and 58% were concerned about NQTs’ lack of subject knowledge. Does this mean that the qualifications needed aren’t in fact helping prepare future teachers, rendering Tristam Hunt’s desire for all teachers to gain QTS pointless?
Even with the quality of teachers being outlined as a key issue it doesn’t change the fact that there are less people training to become teachers now more than ever. Applications for joining the teaching profession have declined by 27,000 in the last 12 months. This has meant the budget has had to be stretched even further due to the lack of ability to fill empty vacancies. Last year alone the government had to spend in excess of £50 million to ensure lessons could be covered.
So is this a matter of quantity or quality? If quality is the issue then why are NQTs not being trained to the standards expected by British schools? Or is there simply not enough people wanting to join the profession? What do you think? Have your say…