Teacher vacancy levels ‘unprecedented’ this late on in year

Exclusive: Research shows ‘more problems than anticipated’ with teacher recruitment for September
2nd August 2022, 12:01am

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Teacher vacancy levels ‘unprecedented’ this late on in year

https://www.tes.com/magazine/news/general/teacher-vacancy-levels-unprecedented-late-year
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Schools are being forced to continue recruiting teachers later into the summer than usual, with school leaders posting “unprecedented” numbers of job advertisements for this time of year.

Experts are warning that they could see more problems with recruitment than previously anticipated, with vacancies advertised late in the year “less likely to be filled” by September.

SchoolDash data shared with Tes shows that secondary school vacancies have more than doubled compared with the same point in 2018-19, before the pandemic.

A normal year would see the number of teacher job adverts rising slightly after the May half-term before petering out “very quickly”, according to Dr Timo Hannay, founding managing director of SchoolDash.

But this year, numbers have remained high, running at around double pre-pandemic levels until the end of July.

There are widespread concerns about the state of teacher recruitment across the education sector, with experts warning last month that there was no hope of hitting this year’s recruitment targets.

Dr Hannay said that the number of adverts from mid-to-late April onwards this year was “basically unprecedented”.

He added: “We’ve been tracking this since 2017 and we’ve never seen a year like this in terms of the sheer activity that’s been going on.”

The data shows that teacher vacancies normally see an early summer spike.

This year, the peak came slightly later than usual, on 7 June, when SchoolDash recorded 1,313 teacher recruitment adverts in secondary schools across England - more than double the figure recorded in 2018-19 (564).

These figures have since remained well above pre-pandemic levels, in line with trends seen so far this year.

The total number of teacher recruitment adverts across all subjects so far this year is 38,386 - 17 per cent higher than at the same point in 2019, when 32,858 had been recorded.

Last month, the figure was 14 per cent.

Dr Hannay said the figures were “a sign of more problems than we anticipated before or that we could see before in schools being able to be fully staffed for September”.

It was uncertain whether this was a “catching up” after the pandemic, or a “sign of a new normal”, he added.

TeachVac, a national vacancy service, has seen a similar pattern of later advertisements this year.

Its data shows a 27 per cent increase on June 2018 levels, looking at the same month this year. 

Schools turn to ‘expensive supply’

Andy Byers, headteacher at Framwellgate School Durham, said recruiting so late when budgets have “already been set”, was “hugely challenging”. 

He said that schools will have “very few options at this stage”, with most initial teacher training students already recruited and experienced teachers unable to resign at this point in the year. 

Instead, Mr Byers said schools will have to turn to “expensive supply options” but that the agencies “don’t have enough specialists of the right quality on their books”.

Technology see biggest rise in vacancies

Overall this year, the total number of secondary school adverts for technology teachers in England up to 26 July was 34 per cent above pre-pandemic levels in the same month, the SchoolDash figures show.

The humanities also saw a large increase of 28 per cent, rising from 4,913 recorded vacancy advertisements in July 2019 to 6,266 in July 2022.

Technician vacancies ‘exceptionally high’

Technician recruitment among secondary schools in England has seen a jump this year compared to pre-pandemic levels, showing “exceptionally high activity during June” according to Dr Hannay.

On 14 June, 218 advertisements were found on school websites, compared with the 139 recorded in June 2019.

A Department for Education spokesperson said that teachers are the “backbone of our education system” and that was why the department had proposed “the highest pay awards in a generation for new teachers, alongside further pay awards for more experienced teachers and leaders”.

The spokesperson said the “proposed pay increases sit alongside the Levelling Up Premiums of up to £3,000 tax-free for teachers in high demand STEM subjects” as well as “access to fully-funded, high quality professional development, helping to raise the status of the teaching profession and make it an attractive career”.

They added that the number of teachers in the system “remains high” and there are now more than 456,000 teachers working in state-funded schools in England. 

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