Skip to main content

Teacher recruitment ‘a pipeline leaking at both ends’

NAHT survey finds 61 per cent of teacher vacancies reported as difficult to fill

News article image

NAHT survey finds 61 per cent of teacher vacancies reported as difficult to fill

Teacher recruitment is “a pipeline leaking at both ends”, the NAHT heads’ union has said, after it published a survey laying bare the scale of the recruitment and retention crisis.

The survey of 800 school leaders shows that for the fourth consecutive year respondents are reporting a problem with recruitment across all roles.

Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of teacher vacancies were reported as difficult to fill, while respondents failed altogether to recruit to 18 per cent of roles.

And one third (33 per cent) of respondents blamed budget pressures for their failure to recruit teachers – up from 9 per cent in 2014.

As Tes reported last week, retention is also proving difficult, with 66 per cent of school leaders saying they were aware of some of their staff having left the teaching profession for reasons other than retirement.

Nick Brook, the NAHT’s deputy general secretary, said: “Despite four years of warnings by NAHT the recruitment crisis continues unabated.”

He added: “The recruitment pipeline is leaking at both ends, with insufficient numbers of newly qualified teachers coming into the system and too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely.”

'The focus of all our attention'

The survey found particular difficulties with recruitment for middle leadership roles. For posts carrying a teaching or learning or special educational needs coordinator responsibility, only 17 per cent of roles were filled with ease. NAHT members reported difficulty recruiting 61 per cent of these posts, and in 23 per cent of cases were unable to recruit altogether.

The main reasons given to explain why schools struggled to recruit included the quality of applicants in the area (cited by 64 per cent of respondents) and an overall shortage of staff in the area (cited by 50 per cent of individuals).

For those who failed to recruit, supply agencies were the most common solution, reported by 73 per cent of school leaders, while 44 per cent reported that teaching hours were being covered by a member of the senior leadership team – up from 41 per cent in 2016.

Mr Brook said: “The government must make the changes necessary to ensure a workforce that can deliver the best education for all.

“This should be the focus of all our attention, to attract and retain teachers, pay them properly, treat them well and respect their need for a proper work-life balance.” 

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We recognise, however, that there are challenges facing schools and we are taking significant steps to address them. That is why we continue to invest significant sums in teacher recruitment with £1.3 billion up to 2020 being invested in teacher bursaries to attract the best and brightest into the profession.

“In spring 2018, we will launch a workload reduction toolkit, providing school leaders, governors and teachers with practical tools to help them remove unnecessary workload. This will include specific support for teachers in the early part of their careers."

Want to keep up with the latest education news and opinion? Follow Tes on Twitter and Instagram, and like Tes on Facebook.

Log in or register for FREE to continue reading.

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you