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Teacher shortages ‘need to be made a priority’

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It's been a testing time of late for the education sector, with many changes either being brought in or planned, but one teachers' union has said it's time that the real issues are focussed on, rather than looking towards simply politically motivated ventures. 

Academies and free schools have been the main topic for discussion in the last few weeks, particularly around the Budget announcement, but according to the National Union of Teachers (NUT), the real issue remains with a lack of teachers coming into the sector, calling for this to be made the real priority. 

Teachers warned of excessive workload and inadequate pay, which they say is making it harder for schools to not only bring new teachers in, but also keep those who are already working in the sector, meaning there is potentially a shortage in the offing in terms of teacher numbers. 

Speaking at the NUT's conference in Brighton, Christine Blower, the union's leader, described the problem of recruitment and retention as a "desperately serious situation". 

"The causes of the retention problem are clear: workload, workload, workload – for not enough pay," said she told attendees. 

However, the Department for Education rejected the claims and said that there is nothing to worry about at the moment in terms of teacher numbers. It said that vacancy levels are not presently out of the norm. 

"We're investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment and the vacancy rate has remained low at around one per cent over the last 15 years," said an education department spokesman. 

"In fact, last year we recruited 116 per cent of our primary schools target, and the pupil teacher ratio has remained stable when compared to 2010.

"We know unnecessary workload is one of the biggest frustrations for teachers and have done more than ever to tackle this by publishing the results of the three workload review groups on marking, planning and data collection – the three biggest concerns raised by teachers through the workload challenge – and accepting all their recommendations."

March 29, 2016