The recruitment and retention crisis in schools is now well established.
Today, the Department for Education has set out what it has billed as an ambitious new strategy to help attract more teachers and stop those in the profession from leaving.
Here is everything you need to know.
What’s the problem?
English schools need more teachers. And lots of them.
Analysis by Tes showed that simply to keep the teacher-pupil ratio standing still, the system would need to find another 47,000 teachers by 2024 to cope with the surge of secondary school pupils.
And this is at a time when overall teacher numbers in England has fallen for the first time in six years, according to official figures.
The fall in 2018 was revealed by DfE statistics last year.
The figures show that while the percentage rate of teachers leaving the profession remained constant between 2016 and 2017, the rate of new entrants declined.
What is the government’s big idea?
Today, it has launched a new recruitment and retention strategy, which sets out plans to make sure more people are attracted to the profession and that those in the classroom want to stay.
The main focus of the announcement is on ensuring that teachers have more quality support early on in their career, making the working hours more flexible, tackling teacher workload and making it easier to apply to become a teacher in the first place.
The most significant change for teachers could be the creation of an Early Career Framework (ECF).
How will an Early Career Framework help new teachers?
Teachers will be guaranteed 5 per cent off-timetable during their second year in the profession for additional support and training.
The ECF will also set out the training that early career teachers will be entitled to.
It includes commitments to creating high-quality, freely available ECF curricula and training materials; establishing full ECF training programmes; and funding time for mentors to support early careers teachers.
The DfE has said that by the time the new system is fully in place, it anticipates investing “at least an additional £130 million every year”.
How is the DfE planning to tackle teacher workload?
The DfE says it will help school leaders to strip away unnecessary tasks; simplify the accountability system to clarify when a school may be subject to intervention; and work with Ofsted.
The inspectorate is set to examine how well a school manages teacher workload under its new inspection framework and has also proposed that inspectors do not look at internal school data during inspections – in a bid to avoid creating unnecessary work.
The DfE’s recruitment and retention strategy includes plans to create a new hotline for heads to complain to Ofsted if they feel that inspectors are breaching the watchdog’s commitments not to increase workload.
What will be done to support flexible working?
The department is creating a new matchmaking service, which it says will allow teachers to find job shares.
It is also planning to launch a competition for edtech providers to create “innovative solutions” to promote part-time and flexible working patterns.
And it says it wants to develop specialist and non-leadership career routes for teachers who want to stay in the classroom rather than move up into leadership – with additional incentives being proposed for teachers working in challenging schools.
How can it boost recruitment?
Its big idea here is a perhaps an obvious one – introducing a new one-stop application system to make applications easier for would-be teachers.
The DfE says despite a high level of interest in joining the profession, not enough people progress to making an application.
It says that the process makes it too difficult to join the profession, particularly for career changers.
And it adds that the initial teacher training (ITT) market is overly complex. To address this, it wants to create a new system that allows people to apply for ITT in one place.
It is also proposing to launch a new recruitment drive called the "Discover Teaching" initiative.