For every 10 teachers needed, only eight have been recruited

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Shortfall: The government has recruited 80 per cent of the secondary trainee teachers needed in 2017/18 (Image: Adobe Stock)

The recruitment crisis looks set to continue for schools after the latest teacher training figures revealed significant teacher shortfalls for the fifth year running across most subject areas

The deep concerns over teacher recruitment at secondary level remain after the latest initial teacher training figures revealed missed targets across all but two subjects.

The Teacher Supply Model (TSM) sets annual targets to reflect the changing future demand for teachers in England, but for the fifth year running the Department for Education (DfE) has failed to achieved these.

The TSM estimated that England needed 18,725 post-graduates to begin secondary teacher training in 2017/18 – 13,821 in EBacc subjects and 4,904 in non-EBacc subjects. However, only 14,990 have been recruited (11,590 and 3,400 respectively) according to the DfE’s Initial Teacher Training Census 2017/18, published last week.

It means that only 80 per cent of the secondary recruitment target has been hit (84 per cent for EBacc subjects and 69 per cent for non-EBacc subjects).

In other words, for every 10 teachers needed, we have recruited just eight.

The failure will serve to exacerbate the missed recruitment targets of the last four years. At secondary level in 2016/17, a total of 15,713 trainee teachers were recruited to post-graduate ITT courses – only 89 per cent of the target of 17,687.

Last year, only four subjects hit their individual targets (geography, biology, history and PE). This year, this number has dropped to just two subjects – history and PE (which achieved 102 and 113 per cent respectively).

Modern foreign languages and English both managed to recruit 90 per cent or more, while biology, classics, chemistry, geography and business studies hit at least 80 per cent recruitment.

At the other end of the scale, design and technology only recruited 33 per cent of its target while “other”, which includes dance, psychology, economics and social studies, recruited just 50 per cent.

Also struggling were religious education (63 per cent), computing (66 per cent), physics (68 per cent), and maths (79 per cent). Drama, music and art and design only managed recruitment of around 75 per cent each.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was “deeply concerning” that the targets had been “significantly missed”.

He continued: “It is the fifth successive year that secondary trainee recruitment has failed to match the identified need, and on this occasion only 80 per cent of the target has been achieved – a shortfall of 3,731 new entrants. Out of 15 subjects, only two have enough new recruits.

“We simply cannot go on like this. There are severe teacher shortages in many subjects and in many areas of the country, and this is having a real and detrimental impact on the quality of education that we are able to provide to our young people.

“It is imperative that we better incentivise teaching as a career, not least through a cost-of-living pay increase which addresses the significant real-terms decline in teaching salaries and which is fully funded by the government.

“We also need to work together with the government to reduce teacher workload and put the joy back into teaching.”

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) warned again last week that teacher recruitment is “a pipeline leaking at both ends”.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: “The recruitment pipeline is leaking at both ends, with insufficient numbers of NQTs coming into the system and too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely.”

The NAHT’s recent annual recruitment survey, involving 800 school leaders, found that 81 per cent of teaching vacancies were hard to fill, with 18 per cent going unfilled.

Two-thirds of the leaders also report that they have had staff quit for reasons other than retirement in the last year, with workload and work/life balance among the main reasons.

Mr Whiteman added: “Our teachers work longer hours, for less money compared to their peers around the world. Today’s graduates are attracted to other professions, and current teachers are leaving in search of other careers.

“Budget cuts mean that pay rises and professional training are not keeping pace with teachers’ expectations. They don’t ask for much but they are getting even less.

“The government must make the changes necessary to ensure a workforce that can deliver the best education for all. This should be the focus of all our attention, to attract and retain teachers, pay them properly, treat them well and respect their need for a proper work/life balance.”

In total, there were 27,895 new entrants to teacher training including trainee primary teachers. Primary education in England hit 106 per cent of its recruitment target.

Of the new entrants to teacher training, 53 per cent are on school-led training routes (a fall of three percentage points year-on-year), while 47 per cent are enrolled with higher education institutions (a rise of three percentage points year-on-year).


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