5 reasons to worry about teacher numbers

More teachers drop out after a year and a quarter of outer London schools have vacancies

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The number of teachers in England’s schools has fallen for the first time in more than a decade, new statistics revealed today.

The figures from the Department for Education prompted Association of School and College Leaders general secretary Geoff Barton to call for urgent action saying the situation was “a serious threat to educational standards”.

The headline figures show that the 42,430 new entrants into teaching were outnumbered by the 42,830 full-time equivalent teachers who left teaching – meaning the overall number of FTE teachers fell from 457,200 in 2016 to 451,900 in 2017.

A deeper dive into the statistics, reveals more reasons to worry.

  1. 15 per cent of teachers who qualified in 2016 were not in service a year later – up from 13 per cent for the 2015 cohort.
  2. There have been rises in the proportion schools reporting a vacant or temporarily filled post in the North East, North West, West Midlands and South West. You may be most worried if you are a head in outer London – where 24.8 per cent of schools report a vacant or temporarily-filled post, although this is slightly down from 25.5 per cent of schools last year. In Harrow, more than half (51.6 per cent) of schools had a vacancy or temporarily-filled post in 2017 compared to 50.8 per cent in 2016.
  3. As teacher numbers fall and pupil numbers rise, the pupil-teacher ratio has increased from 14.9 pupils per teacher in secondary schools in 2012 to 16 pupils per teacher in 2017. Ratios in primary and nursery have risen from 20.5 to 20.9 over the same period.
  4. The number of vacant maths posts in secondary schools has risen from 280 to 300 (1.3 per cent to 1.4 per cent of teachers).
  5. The statistics show 38 per cent of physics teachers and 22 per cent of maths teachers have no relevant post-A-level qualification in the subject.

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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

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