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Recruitment crisis could see YouTube replacing teachers

Shortage of teachers might force schools to rely on videos to teach groups of students some topics, ASCL general secretary Geoff Barton says

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Schools might soon be forced to rely on YouTube videos to teach some parts of their lessons because of the recruitment crisis, a headteacher leader has suggested.

Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools might have to assume "we'll never have enough teachers", and re-design their lessons accordingly with technology.


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Mr Barton was speaking at a conference on edtech this morning organised by the Education Policy Institute thinktank.

He told the event: "If the Tes calculation of how many new teachers we’re going to need by 2024 - and this is assuming that no one in secondary leaves the system, so it’s a big ask - then we’re going to need 47,000 teachers.

"What if that is never going to happen? What if we were to start from the point of, 'we’ll never have enough teachers'? What does that then lead you to think we could do differently?"

Mr Barton suggested that some students "might learn better from seeing a 20 minute YouTube video" and then "working in groups" under supervision by a teacher assistant. 

This would free up the teacher's time to work in "smaller groups with other groups of students". 

"You will find that a lot of people will immediately be really squeamish about that because it’s undoing lots of the assumptions of the traditional approach," Mr Barton said.

But he went on: "You just have to watch the way children are learning, and see that lots of children will learn differently, and very independently... It frees the teacher up to be able to work in different ways with other youngsters."

After his speech, Mr Barton told Tes that he did not think this approach would become "necessarily the norm", but "we ought to be thinking about that". 

He said using technology would allow teachers to "personalise learning in a way that we couldn't previously".

"You could be setting really good quality work which they are working on collaboratively, using technology, and then coming together with a teacher or TA to explain it - a seminar model."

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