Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

So You Want to Know about the Recruitment Crisis

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

So You Want to Know about the Recruitment Crisis

Article excerpt

TES reveals why it's happening, and what it could mean for you

Is there really a crisis in teacher recruitment?

Schools minister Nick Gibb admits there is a "challenge" but insists the government is managing it successfully. Many headteachers view the situation as much more serious. Teach First believes the problem is worse than it was in 2002.

What happened in 2002?

Back then, everyone agreed there was a crisis. Severe teacher shortages forced heads and supply agencies to scour the globe to fill the gaps in England's staffrooms. The situation was so extreme that the government decided to allow support staff to take lessons unaccompanied in certain circumstances.

And now?

Schools are once again recruiting from abroad, with teachers arriving from Canada, Australia and Ireland. New statistics released this month show that increasing numbers of teachers are being asked to cover subjects outside their area, with fewer maths, English and science lessons taken by teachers who have a post A-level qualification.

So why do ministers insist there is no crisis?

They point to official figures showing that teacher vacancy rates have remained stable at about 1 per cent for the past 15 years.

Does that mean there is no national problem?

Not necessarily. Teacher recruitment expert John Howson, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford, points out that government statistics no longer compare like with like because they have stopped picking up Christmas vacancies. Despite that, the overall national vacancy rate has doubled to 1.2 per cent since 2010. Professor Howson has described ministers' attempts to deny the problems as "rubbish".

"You have figures going in the wrong direction on the best possible day of the year to collect them," he said this week. "If that is not a warning sign, nothing is."

Which areas of the country are experiencing the worst shortages?

London and the South East are first to be hit this time, as they were before. Housing costs make it harder to attract recruits from other parts of the country.

Do any subjects have particular teacher recruitment problems?

A survey by the Association of School and College Leaders in December 2014 found that two-thirds of respondents had difficulty in recruiting maths teachers and almost half had problems in science and English. …

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