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