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Teacher ‘crisis’ is ‘not an exaggeration’ claims union leader

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The term crisis when describing the seemingly perennial issue of teacher shortages in UK classrooms has become somewhat commonplace in the past year or so, to the extent that we'd almost be forgiven for thinking that it was something of an over-dramatising of the problem. 

However, according to the head of one head teachers' union, this is not the case, with Brian Lightman, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union claiming that the use of the word crisis is not an overexagerration at all. 

Mr Lightman said that recruitment of teachers has become a very costly issue for schools up and down the country, with some having to spend as much as £10,000 to simply fill one position within their school. When head teachers are already faced with mounting issues around budgets and having to spread their spending more thinly than ever, this is clearly a serious issue. 

And it's not just the cost that's become an even more prevalent problem in recent times, with the National Association of Head Teachers saying that many schools nationwide struggle to find teachers to fill their most important roles, such as heads of maths and English, at all. 

Of those heads who were posting job adverts in the past year, it said, as many as 59 per cent found real problems and struggled to find a suitable recruit to fill the role. Meanwhile, a fifth (20 per cent) even failed to find someone to fill the role entirely, having to abandon their plans to recruit.

Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said this has a real impact on schools, particularly in the poorer areas of the nation, where he said that as many as 77 per cent of head teachers were struggling to find enough good recruits, compared to 50 per cent who said the same in more affluent areas of the country.

John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes and fellow at Oxford University, looked at why there appears to be such an issue when it comes to the recruitment of teachers, and concluded that it is a "perfect storm" of a number of factors combining, including issues such as the economy recovering, meaning more options for graduates in terms of what sector they enter, turning some away from teaching, which they may have otherwise turned to. 

Mr Lightman said one of the big problems moving forward could be the fact that there will be teachers in front of classes who are not necessarily right for the roles. 

"The true situation will be masked. Even if you don't have a maths teacher, you put someone in front of the class. The vacancy is filled, but not with the right person," he said. 

March 30, 2016