The National Audit Office report has confirmed the DfE has missed its recruitment targets for the last four years.
A Guardian survey found that 43% of teachers say they are planning to leave teaching in the next five years. This surely is evidence that the staffing crisis, described by ministers as “scaremongering” is a reality, especially given that 79% of schools say that they are struggling to recruit or retain teachers.
The Social Market Foundation ‘thinktank’ found that the most deprived schools struggle to retain experienced teachers, impacting on outcomes for pupils.
Sir Michael Wilshaw has warned of a "teacher brain drain” as the staffing crisis is exacerbated by an exodus of newly qualified teachers “flocking abroad” to work in the rapidly growing international sector, at the same time as schools across the country are already struggling to fill vacancies amidst rising pupil numbers.
TES/NGA state that more than one third of governing bodies find it difficult to attract good candidates for senior staff posts. There are a range of issues driving the leadership crisis including: the pressures of Ofsted inspection; the struggle to recruit teachers; and leadership models in MATs creating more senior roles to fill.
The six teaching Unions argue that the issues fuelling the crisis are workload, pay and government targets and interventions. Mary Bousted, General Secretary ATL, claims 160,000 more teachers will be needed over the next three years to cope with a rapid increase in pupil numbers; a scary thought given the already present lack of teacher numbers, indicating that things are set to get worse before they get better.
Teachers' pay increases have been limited to 1% or less for the past five years, and the government aims to keep to this limit for the next four years, so pay doesn’t seem to be a solution to the recruitment crisis. The STRB was expected to make its recommendations on teachers' pay in April but is still outstanding.
Educational Excellence Everywhere
The White Paper accepts that recruiting is becoming more difficult and states that the government “recognise the challenge is increasing” so aim to reform both the National College for Teaching & Leadership (NCTL) and Initial Teaching Training (ITT), along with a review of QTS and a new Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development.
The DfE states “We are working with the profession to take action on the root causes of teacher workload. We trust heads, governors and academy trusts to plan their staffing and make sure teachers and staff have the support they need.” A clear indication that the government feels the answer, if only in part, is at a local level. HR management decisions in schools and academies will need to take full account of the pressure points and schools will need to have strategies in place to deal with them.
HR in schools
These issues not only affect the recruitment of staff but the retention of good employees too. Pay itself is not necessarily the answer, but other terms and conditions such as flexible working arrangements need to be rethought. Staff morale in individual schools has a major impact on any teacher’s decision to leave or to stay. The ever-present workload pressures are reinforced with constant unfilled vacancies not to mention the cost of recruitment. Reliance on supply staff to fill the gap as a ‘norm’ has a significant effect on school budgets which can then very directly affect pupil outcomes. HR support to schools is key to breaking recruitment and retention problems so that matters are considered on a whole school basis.
For more in depth discussion and help with solutions join us on 6 July for our event on Managing the Recruitment Crisis.