A new analysis lays bare the extent of the teacher recruitment difficulties faced by non-selective secondaries in selective areas, showing that they are up to five times more likely than neighbouring grammar schools to plug gaps with temporary staff.
The findings come as experts have warned that government proposals to increase the number of grammars could affect teacher recruitment in nearby non-selective schools.
A TES study of Department for Education data on teacher recruitment in selective areas shows that in the largest selective authority, Kent, there were 19 temporarily filled posts in its 29 secondary moderns in November 2015. Across its 32 comprehensives, there were 12 such posts, compared with just four across its 32 grammars.
The average rate of posts filled by temporary teachers in secondary moderns in the county was 1.27 per cent, more than five times that of grammars, which was just 0.23 per cent.
Expanding the selective system would “polarise” teacher shortages, said John Howson, a teacher recruitment expert and visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University.
“All the evidence suggests that if there are not enough teachers to go round and no other form of rationing, then the secondary moderns are more likely to lose out than the grammar schools,” he added. “If you work in Kent or Buckinghamshire, which have fully selective systems, if you don’t go and work in a grammar school, you are unlikely to encounter the top 25 per cent of the ability group, you are less likely to encounter a significant A-level group…and that may be less attractive to you.”
But Jim Skinner, chief executive of the Grammar School Heads Association, said grammars were not directly responsible for the recruitment difficulties of non-selective schools in selective areas.
“Teacher recruitment at the moment is a major concern for all schools,” Mr Skinner added. “Grammar schools are finding it very challenging to recruit at the moment. The figures may be to some extent the consequence that, generally speaking, grammar schools have a lower turnover of teachers.”
A DfE spokesperson said of the findings: “Our proposals are about creating more good schools in more areas, giving every child the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
“Teaching remains a popular and rewarding career. The number of teachers entering our classrooms continues to outnumber those who retire or leave and there are more teachers returning to the profession year on year.”
This is an edited version of an article in the 7 October edition of TES. Subscribers can view the full article here. This week's TES magazine is available at all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here