England’s schools are facing its major challenge in recruiting and retaining teachers and senior leaders, MPS from the Education Select Committee have warned. Key subject areas such as Maths, Physics and Computing were the hardest hit.
For the fifth year in a row the government has failed to deal with the problem resulting in missing recruitment targets.
In a highly critical new report by the education select committee it calls for urgent action, including more focus on retaining teachers once they are in the classroom. It was revealed a third of teachers who began teaching in 2015 quit the profession within the first five years. One of the suggestions put forward is capping on the number of hours teachers work as high workload was one of reasons why so many are leaving the profession.
MPs have pointed out while ministers have recognised there are issues, there is no long-term plan to address the recruitment crisis. They suggest there should be greater efforts to keep teachers from leaving the profession and moving to other jobs. It is more cost effective than recruiting new teachers and would strengthen the pool of future leadership candidates.
Workload is not the only reason teachers are leaving the profession. It is a combination of factors including constant curriculum and policy changes, budget and pay cuts, lack of support and finally government pressure which then led to poor health and feeling undervalued.
In order to raise the status of the teaching profession, and improve retention, teachers must be entitled to high-quality, relevant continuing professional development throughout their careers. This must include a focus on subject-specific knowledge and skills to allow teachers to continually develop their practice and to create future leaders.
Pupils are in danger of losing valuable, highly experienced teachers as schools begin to recruit more and more NQTs over older teachers. Schools are reluctant to employ experienced teachers because they have to pay higher salaries compared to NQTs. Even though there are many excellent NQTs, pupils often end-up losing out through inexperienced teachers. Many have great skills but will lack the knowledge and competence that comes only with years of teaching.
The concern here is teaching is beginning to be seen as something you can really do when you are free of life’s other commitments – not surprising based on the current demands of the role. Many teachers work late into the evening and weekend working has become the norm.
Young, energetic teachers with fresh ideas are highly welcomed in schools however they need guidance, support and advice which only comes from those who have devoted ten plus years in the classroom, taught hundreds of children, encountered all abilities of learning and have learnt from endless mistakes. With no one there to mentor the new generation of teachers it’s no surprise that NQTs are not lasting in the profession. Being in the middle of a recruitment and retention crisis schools do not have the luxury to be a young domain and the highly experienced older teachers are a luxury to them.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said “This report should act as a wake-up call to ministers that falling back on sticking plaster solutions such as the failed National Teaching Service will do nothing to address the systemic causes of the teacher supply crisis.”
A Department for Education spokesman said “There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before with secondary postgraduate recruitment at it’s highest since 2011.”
He said more than £1.3 billion would be invested in recruitment over this parliament, and that more trainees in physics and maths were recruited this year than last year.
“The secretary of state has set out her ambition to continue driving up standards through investment in professional development so the best teachers stay in the profession,” he added.
Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said the government was “failing to deliver on its most basic of tasks.”
“Recruitment targets are being missed, school budgets are being cut for the first time in decades and we have thousands more unqualified teachers teaching in our schools,” she said, adding that “children deserve better.”
Read the full report Recruitment and Retention of Teachers. Fifth Report 2016-17
February 27, 2017