Exclusive: Is the teacher recruitment crisis beginning to ease?

22nd September 2017 at 05:04
Survey of 5,300 governors suggests fewer schools are struggling to attract good leaders and teachers

Fewer schools are struggling to attract strong job candidates, according to a survey of more than 5,300 governors.

In recent years, headteachers have raised teacher recruitment as one of the biggest challenges facing them, with concerns exacerbated by the failure to hit trainee teacher numbers in key subjects.

However, in one of the most surprising findings of a joint survey by Tes and the National Governance Association (NGA), the proportion of governors saying they struggle to attract “good candidates” has fallen since 2016.

The trend is apparent for headteacher jobs, for which the proportion of governors saying they are experiencing recruitment problems has fallen from 35 per cent to 34 per cent.

And for other senior posts, the proportion is down from 42 per cent to 36 per cent, while for teaching posts it has dropped from 50 per cent to 46 per cent.

Teacher recruitment challenges

The subjects facing the biggest recruitment challenges were felt to be the same as last year – maths, physics, chemistry, English, general science and biology, in descending order – but in each case the proportion of governors reporting recruitment problems fell.

The drop was most significant in maths. In 2016, 68 per cent of governors said they had difficulties recruiting teaching staff for the subject. In 2017, that fell to 58 per cent.

Emma Knights, chief executive of the NGA, told Tes: “I was surprised – I was expecting to see it around the same sort of level [as last year]. We had no indication that it was getting better.

“It does not really tie in with the anecdotal evidence we have been getting.”

She said she was unable to explain what was driving the figures.

Asked whether the survey data was a cause for optimism, she replied: “I think it’s too soon to say that.”

'Just as hard as before'

Her surprise at the findings was echoed by Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT), who said his organisation was still hearing stories of real difficulties filling posts, and jobs that have to be advertised multiple times before they were filled.

He told Tes: “Everything we are getting back from our members is that it’s just as hard to recruit as before.

“The last time we surveyed, there were significant gaps in terms of when a vacancy became available, and when it was filled.”

He added: “Whether it’s an anomaly or the first shoots of a recovery, I just don’t know.”

The Department for Education was contacted for comment.

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