Bleak outlook: teacher shortages loom in almost all secondary school subjects, says expert

16th May 2016 at 12:04
teacher shortages
Demand for business studies teachers already outstrips supply of trainees, analysis shows

Secondary schools will find it hard to recruit teachers in all subjects apart from PE and art during the next school year, teacher recruitment expert John Howson predicts.

A new analysis compares the current demand for teachers in each subject – calculated by counting job advertisements – with the number of trainees who will be ready to start work in September.

Professor Howson said that the number of vacancies advertised so far in 2016 for business studies teachers would cover every trainee currently going through the system.

And he warns that the “pool” of available trainees for design and technology, geography and English vacancies is small.

“We look at the number of people on one-year training courses, who will be available for work in September 2016,” said Professor Howson.

“In business studies there are already more vacancies than trainees available. In other subjects there are still more trainees than jobs. But we are not at the end of the recruitment round yet.”

Prof Howson, director of TeachVac, said that the figures give a guide to what teacher shortages can be expected in September 2016 and January 2017.

The figures take into account the fact that trainees who began training with Teach First or salaried School Direct are not likely to be available for work in other schools in September.

Teacher training targets missed

The analysis also anticipates that around half of the advertised vacancies will be filled by existing teachers, meaning that half need to be filled by trainees.

This calculation is based on the National Audit Office (NAO) report "Training new teachers", which said that in 2014 around half of the teachers entering state-funded schools were newly qualified. The rest were returning to teaching after a break or after teaching elsewhere.

The NAO also pointed out that the teacher training targets had been missed for the past four years and that teacher trainees did not always go on to teach in state schools.

Professor Howson's analysis comes weeks after TES revealed that primary schools could face staff recruitment shortages this September because changes to the way trainees were recruited this year meant all major primary teacher training routes were shut down by the early spring.

In April, TES reported that hundreds of potential trainee teachers could have been turned away from university courses because of a controversial limit on recruitment introduced for 2015-16.

Responding to Professor Howson's findings, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: "The latest published figures from Ucas show that teaching remains a hugely popular profession, refuting the negativity from those who talk it down. We have already recruited in excess of our postgraduate ITT targets in primary and in several secondary subjects – five months ahead of the start of the academic year.

"We are making sustained progress in a number of subjects, including maths, biology, chemistry, English, geography and physics, where recruitment is ahead of this time last year.

"We trust schools and ITT providers to recruit high-quality trainees. Practising teachers are heavily involved in selection processes for all ITT routes. ITT providers are accountable to Ofsted, which looks carefully at trainee quality."

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