School standards minister Nick Gibb today told MPs that new methods will be introduced to measure teacher vacancies, as the Commons education committee quizzed him on a report earlier this year which criticised the Department for Education’s lack of data.
Here are the five key things that we learned from the minister:
- The DfE is considering setting up a panel of schools which can be surveyed each year on their staffing issues. Asked about how the department was keeping track of the geographical differences in terms of the numbers of vacant teaching posts, Mr Gibb said: “We want as much granular detail as possible so we are looking at things like a panel survey. We’re looking at a sample of schools, and keeping those samples the same every year, as a way of looking at what is happening in those schools. We are open to other ideas of how we obtain granular detail; otherwise we are led by anecdote, and anecdote is strongly indicating there are problems with recruitment;”
- Mr Gibb also said the department was considering a new way of measuring vacancy rates – looking at the proportion of schools which have at least one vacancy or temporarily filled post on census day every November. A DfE report published earlier this year showed that outer London had the highest proportion of primary and secondary schools with vacancies – 16 per cent and 30.4 per cent respectively. The figure was lowest in the North East, where 3.2 per cent of primaries and 16.4 per cent of secondaries reported vacancies;
- Mr Gibb was also confident that there will be increasing numbers of people going into teaching. “We need to recruit sufficient numbers of teachers to match the increasing number of pupils,” he told the committee;
- And despite cutting bursaries to people with third-class degrees, he admitted that you don’t need to have a first-class degree to be a wonderful teacher. Mr Gibb said: “You can have a person with a first who is a terrible teacher and a person with a 2.2 who is a terrible teacher, but we do want to recruit into the profession the best possible people we can;"
- The inquiry also heard that there were 1,713 overseas maths and physics teachers granted visas to teach in the UK under the shortage occupation list. The Migration Advisory Committee is currently considering whether the UK teacher shortage could be eased by allowing more teachers to come from abroad.