Schools warn of teacher shortage

Schools in England are reporting increasing difficulties in recruiting teachers, head teachers are warning.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) said 59 per cent of schools advertising for teachers “struggled” to get applicants and a further 20 per cent failed completely to appoint anyone.

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Russell Hobby, leader of the NAHT, said it was clear evidence of a crisis. He added: “Schools rightly have autonomy over HR practices, but we should be able to expect the government to supply the basics for them to work within – funding, buildings and, of course, enough high quality people. The Education Committee today asks whether there is a crisis in the recruitment of teachers and school leaders; our evidence clearly shows that there is.

However, the Department for Education said the number of teachers now stood “at an all-time high.” Hobby presented these findings to MPs as part of his response to the Education Select Committee, which is investigating the extent of shortages. 

“The volume of criticism deployed by successive governments is a serious deterrent to recruitment and retention, and the jump in the number of those reporting teachers leaving the profession is a concern. Teachers need to believe they can and do make a difference. It is possible to be both proud of past achievements and ambitious for more: governments need to develop a better way of engaging with the profession for improvement,” he said.

The head teachers’ findings, based on a survey of 2,100 school leaders, are the latest signs of recruitment difficulties facing schools. It also revealed only 14 per cent of respondents had managed to fill their vacancies for posts with a teaching and learning responsibility payment (TLR) and Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs). 

In London and the South East over half of those surveyed said their recruitment difficulties were because of high housing and living costs (this was highest in inner London at 63 per cent). 

The growing struggle to recruit means that nearly half of schools now use recruitment agencies to recruit their permanent roles, and 69 per cent of those said that they do so as they have failed to recruit previously. This is adding to schools’ recruitment costs, which average £3,000 per vacancy but can run up to £10,000.


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