It’s widely acknowledged that the state of teacher recruitment in the UK is in a critical state. According to the Department for Education (DfE) statistics, pupil numbers will rise by 20% in the next decade, while teacher training applications have fallen by 5%. An additional 47,000 secondary teachers will need to be recruited by 2024 in order to tackle this recruitment crisis.
The recruitment crisis is only exacerbated by a correlating retention crisis. The number of teachers staying in the profession long term has experienced a sharp decline, with half of teachers thinking that they will be in their jobs in ten years’ time.
With pupil numbers rising as the number of teacher trainees decreases, the UK education sector is faced with an ultimatum: take urgent steps to make the teaching profession more attractive and accessible, or face prospects such as lowered pupil attainment, much bigger class sizes, excessive teacher workload and negative impacts on teacher wellbeing.
What’s being done about it?
In January 2019, the long anticipated Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy was published. The strategy announced a number of changes which would have a significant impact on the education sector. No need to trawl back through the 40 page document again – we’ve summarized the main points of the strategy here for you:
Early Career Framework– the most significant change announced by the strategy is a package of new support for teachers early on in their careers, backed by an extra £130 million of funding a year. This will fund the development of a new early career framework, to be rolled out from September 2020 and will provide high quality and fully-funded mentor training through a two year induction.
New Specialist Qualifications– to broaden the routes into teaching and make it more accessible and attractive to potential teachers, the government has pledged to introduce new specialist NPQs outside of the traditional school leadership route.
Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Review– the strategy included the commitment to review ITT to improve its effectiveness and make it more cost-efficient.
Simplifying the accountability system– a consultation has been launched on how the government can look to make the accountability system simpler and more supportive for schools, including proposals on what constitutes formal intervention.
Make teaching more accessible- the government plans to streamline routes into teaching and making the profession more accessible by introducing new digital systems which would work as a one stop application system.
What should schools and ITT providers be looking towards now?
The strategy is one of the most significant policies within the education sector in recent years, so it is imperative that schools and ITT providers are utilizing the opportunities it presents, alongside implementing their own initiatives. This could mean incorporating postgraduate teaching apprenticeships as a way to attract teachers, looking at innovative methods of attracting and retaining high quality teachers and delivering outstanding teacher training to prepare teachers early on and in all stages of their career.
In order to ensure that schools are providing the highest quality teaching and opportunity for pupils to achieve their full potential, there needs to be an urgent drive across the sector to tackle the teacher recruitment crisis.