Sleepwalking into a recruitment crisis

Recruitment Crisis 255

It is no secret that we are sleepwalking into a teacher recruitment crisis. It has never been harder for schools to recruit head teachers and specialist subject teachers. This has left our schools nearing ‘breaking point’ according to the president of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL). Schools are now resorting to non-specialists teaching subjects and even children being sent home.

It’s not just the fact that the training target for teachers has been missed once again and more people are leaving the profession than ever. It’s the policy context in which schools work. Individual schools have always struggled if they were short of teachers, but now with schools taking on the responsibility for training teachers, delivering professional development, supporting other struggling schools and providing system leadership, their need for capacity is greater than even. No longer do the consequences of failing to recruit just affect one school, now it affects the whole school system.

So what can actually be done to solve these issues? Whatever decided must be based on the understanding of the reason behind the shortage, and without underestimating the strains and stresses that lie within the role of teaching. So what is the issue, does Ofsted have a part to play in this? Is it the teaching workload? Is it the quality of the school leadership and pupil behaviour?

There are a number of reasons as why teachers may leave the profession and choose another career path, one of these being the number of key government policies that are affecting the environment in which schools have to recruit. Such difficulties lie in the fact there are whole regions of the UK with too few student teachers, especially in key subjects. This means that many schools have no local training provider and find it much harder to recruit. Another is the government’s approach to raising standards – leaving the schools responsible for leading the school system and holding them accountable for doing so.

This is leaving schools with far too much pressure to succeed, of course raising the bar of success is vital but how schools meant to succeed with a lack of teachers and an overflow of pupils? The need to raising school success is draining the energy and commitment out of the teachers and school leaders. How can teachers be expected to cope with the constant pressures and workload just to be told they aren’t doing enough? But realistically can anyone do enough under these circumstances? The standard teacher will be expected to work well over their working hours as standard just to complete the basic workload.

The education system need to look to energise itself, not drain the life and soul out of every school employee with the constant change of the Ofsted framework and ever

11 thoughts on “Sleepwalking into a recruitment crisis

  1. Reasons for the teacher recruitment and retention crisis: Relatively low pay, particularly for those potential recruits to teach maths, sciences and foreign languages; constant criticism, indeed ridicule, from successive governments and the media; total lack of appreciation by the aforementioned agencies and the general public of the extreme workload and stress so many teachers are under; the undermining over several decades of the professionalism of teachers; general resentment at teachers’ “long holidays”; OFSTED; grudging acknowledgment of improved exam results; and the hostility towards teachers of so many children and their parents.
    People ought to reflect: without teachers we would have no doctors, nurses, engineers, scientists, mathematicians, translators, etc.

  2. With 17 years teaching experience n having been an assistant head for several years, I moved to a school in a challenging area n after 2 weeks was wrongly accused of abuse. Following investigation, being completely exonerated n having returned to same school for final week b4 summer hols, I decided not to stay at that school. Now I’m doing supply bt can’t get a permanent teaching post or dep headship because I’m TOO experienced therefore too expensive. The union won’t allow me to negotiate wage. I can’t get dep head post because I’m not teaching in a permanent post. I’ve been treated very badly. This is so unfair. Any ideas?

  3. Talk about non specialists… I am subject qualified with a joint honors degree and lots of experience, yet there are two other non specialists in my dept who teach other ks 3 classes. This then makes it very difficult to give students the same experience at ks3 and build upon their subject knowledge at Ks4 for gcse. For the last 2 years, students that I have taught at ks3 have consistantly out-performed those who have been taught by the non specialists. Differentiation by timetable allocation— Go figure.

  4. I taught secondary for8 years then went into educational sales for a break. I’d like to return to teaching but would have to take a huge pay cut to do so, even though I’d be working much harder than I do in edu sales! Until teachers are paid what they are worth they will keep leaving and won’t return.

  5. After reading the above second comment that shows a lack of correct grammar, misspelt words and an over reliance on text speak, is it no wonder that state schools have problems especially when a management role model is of such a low calibre…

  6. I have been timetabled to teach Geography mid term at KS3 with no advance consultation or discussion. It was one of the most stressful periods in my teaching career ( ten years) and I felt constantly on edge when students asked questions I was unable to answer instantly and as a result behaviour and attitude towards me as a professional was awful. As a result, and in conjunction with a number of other SLT decisions made which have left me out of control of my own CPD I have recently handed in my notice to leave.

  7. Message for Maize : Have you considered transferring your skills set and doing something else? I too have been a victim of the too experienced too expensive loophole in the past, so I do sympathize. Good luck.

  8. As a qualified international school principal of many years experience who has worked for many years overseas, it would seem that there is in fact an obvious solution to this problem.

    Instead of offering huge incentives (I believe I saw 25,000 pounds for mathematics recently) to people to train to be teachers, offer incentives to the thousands of overseas teachers/leaders who are ready to come home.

    I am one such person, working in excellent accredited schools throughout my career but now after many years, feel ready to return to the UK. But I can’t.

    Where as on the international circuit, video conferencing is relied on heavily for recruiting teachers, and deemed overall a very successful medium and leaders are often assisted with travel expenses to another location for a shortlist interview, Britain, remains archaic and impractical by insisting on face-to-face interviews with travel assistance only provided from the point of origin in the UK (read ‘airport’).

    I am sure I am not alone, in that as one gets older, a return to one’s home country becomes desirable. Perhaps due to ageing parents, or children who need to be ‘in the system’, or the wanderlust has lost its shine.

    The reality however is British qualified teachers overseas require substantial amounts of money (or a purchased home) to return to the UK – especially if they have no job lined up. If you happened to fall in love and marry a citizen from one of the countries you have travelled overseas in – not including EU, an additional 65,000 pounds is required by the government for the spouse visa (proof of income while hunting for a job in the UK.) That is just the tip of the iceberg.

    At the risk of boring the reader, I recently applied for jobs above, at and below my current position (I have QTS,PGCE,PhD, and two MA’s). The response (if there was one) was always – not without a face-to-face interview. I would even take the risk but not with a short list of 10 names including internal candidates.

    So my advice? Wake up UK and bring home the many qualified overseas educators who would willingly work in the UK in your schools. We just need a helping hand. Why not? Everyone else gets one.

  9. My opinion relies on the given angle…how can be seen a school
    eg 3 possibilities : 1 seen with only the headmaster and the teachers (students pupils are not included)…Consequently you have to face a very tautologic standard : teaching for teaching…and a headmaster for himself…
    2. students, pupils are included…subject and object can be related….
    3. this model, could be the network one, you can add the staff, the parents, the townhall, the general Council, companies : jobs, charities,
    Now what is very important is the strategy (long term plan) and its relevant tactics
    Deprived of any follow-up at any level : human resources included, you are deprived of évaluations. Corrections can only be done on évaluations. The perfect match is to take a piece of paper, draw a line in the middle…this line is the strategy, fold it and the two parts fits perfectly altogether. Everyone is satisfied. RCM : Response Customer Management can help for correction.
    Quality relies on relevant quantity of people in terms of gain, cost, quality, delay and health.

  10. All my adult life (I am 60+) I have been hearing that there is a teacher shortage.
    I started in school teaching at the age of 40+. When I completed teacher training I had no job to go to, like 75% of my cohort. Eventually I did get a job and have worked in schools for 20+ years, half of that time overseas and latterly as a head or deputy in international schools.
    But each time I have applied for a new job, 95% of the responses have been an email saying
    “We had a very good field”. Now of course I am too old to get any job in the ageist UK society.
    I have taught ICT, English, Latin, mathematics, history and geography and religious studies,
    and am an organized, sympathetic, analytical and highly capable school manager.
    From my experience, recruiting and being recruited, there is not, and never has been,
    a teacher shortage. Some countries, e.g. Canada and Eire, have regularly produced a teacher surplus.
    If there is a teacher or headteacher shortage, I invite anyone at Eteach or a reader of this blog to make contact and give me a lead to a new appointment in UK or abroad!

  11. When I first started teaching (early 1980s), school teachers’ pay was on a par with: doctors, middle managers in private companies, senior Civil Servants, Captains in the Army, Inspector level in the Police Force.
    Since then, PAY has fallen WAY BEHIND. Enough said, I think.
    Don’t talk to me about: 9:30 to 3:00, long Summer holiday (I have taken work away with me on holiday abroad to keep up to date with syllabus), working in a bubble …
    Teachers are at the very forefront of society’s ills; they see the effects of poor parenting, abuse, drugs, TV and social media, etc. EVERY minute of EVERY day of the week. Why are they expected to work outside that straitjacket? Don’t forget, PAY is linked to these pupils’ progress. If a student cannot be bothered to get up in the morning or if their parent cannot be bothered to get the student to school on time, if at all, then their results suffer (there is a significant negative correlation between absence and level of attainment) and, consequently, MY PAY is AFFECTED and, therefore, my ability to pay MY MORTGAGE!

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