Britain has seen the emergence of a crisis in teacher recruitment and unless drastic measures are taken, the problem is only set to worsen. The cause of this crisis is multifaceted and cannot be pinned down to just one problem. With reports of over 50% of headteachers in London are aged over 50 with no succession planning in place, the crisis is not only alarming but is now threatening to affect the future of the British education system.
After the National Audit Office reported that recruitment targets have been missed for five years, we decided to explore some of the causes of this crisis and discuss what could be done to rectify the problem.
Failing To Attract Talent
As teacher trainee recruitment drops by almost 7%, recruitment fears strengthen. UCAS have reported that 25,950 trainees were accepted on to teacher training programmes in 2016, down from 27,880 in 2015. The drop in admissions is not the only alarming report, number of applications decreased too, from 47,200 to 46,000. It is primary education which has taken the hardest hit with 12,870 places down to 10,790, missing the government target of 11,489.
More work needs to be done to find out why people are choosing not to pursue careers in teaching and find ways of rectifying the problem. A Department for Education spokesperson said “That’s why we’re investing hundreds of millions in teacher recruitment, including increased bursaries and scholarships, worth up to £30,000 in priority subjects and backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to get great teachers where they are most needed.”
Restrictions On Training Places
Last year teacher training providers were told that they could recruit up to a national limit but higher education providers were subject to a cap within this. This was a measure set to protect school-led courses. However, the knock-on effect of this has been a reduction in the number of university primary trainee places accepted from 6,450 to 4,820.
If we are struggling to train enough teachers to fill the gap, we need to start thinking global. Brexit has reduced the number of applications from the continent but post-Brexit we should see the flexibility to recruit from outside of the EU, from countries such as Canada and New Zealand so we need to start building the campaign for the British education career now.
Whilst we are seeing a reduction in the number of people choosing to teach, we are seeing demand for teachers grow too. Teaching unions and academics have warned that the existing recruitment crisis will intensify with a growing population and the requirement for more pupil places that grow with it. It is expected that the number pupils will increase by 8% over the next 5 years. What’s perhaps more concerning than a growing population is the worsening retention rates within teaching. We are losing almost 4 out of 10 teachers within a year of qualifying due to increased workloads and the 1% fixed salary increase.
We need to provide more support to teachers early on in their careers. Mentoring and buddy systems are commonly used across private sector businesses as a retention tool and schools should consider implementing these to hold on to talent.
The FRCE Recruitment Group Managing Director, Rupesh Chhetry, comments on the crisis “The teacher recruitment crisis has become critical. Every year we see less and less qualified teachers available on the market and coupled with extremely high turnover in teaching staff, schools need to recruit approximately 30,000 new teachers every year and that doesn’t take in to consideration the growing demand we will see as our population increases. It is imperative that we fix the recruitment crisis to prevent irreversible damage to our education system.”
The FRCE Recruitment Group works to improve the teacher talent pipeline by providing specialised support to trainee teachers and newly qualified teachers whilst actively campaigning to recruit teachers from other countries into English schools and encourage more young people into the profession.