Teacher shortages a 'key risk' to education, DfE admits

Cyber-attacks and the costs of high-needs education also identified as significant risks by the Department for Education

Helen Ward

The recruitment of new teachers poses a risk to the Department for Education, according to a new report

A lack of high-quality teachers remains a “key risk” to education in England, the Department for Education’s annual report states today.

“There is a risk that schools have an insufficient number of high-quality teachers resulting in poor educational outcomes for pupils,” the document says.

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The report points out that more than 20 per cent of new teachers are leaving the profession within the first two years, and 33 per cent are leaving within the first five years.

It describes teacher shortages as "a key risk to the government’s objective that all children and young people have access to a high-quality education".

Teacher recruitment risk

The admission comes after the thinktank Policy Exchange called on the next prime minister to act to keep teachers in the profession – suggesting sabbaticals and bursaries for further study could act as incentives.

The DfE's consolidated annual report and accounts, which covers the financial year ending March 2019, also says that the risk that the costs of high-needs special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) education would increase significantly more than available funding was something which “escalated” during 2018-19.

And the risk "that DfE is unable to deliver due to a sustained cyber-attack" is seen as another significant danger.

"DfE takes this risk very seriously," the report says. "Robust attack assessments against financial and ESFA systems have been carried out through the year, highlighting cross-cutting service risks and system risks."

The report defines key risks as those risks which, if materialised, would have a “significant impact” on the department’s objectives. It also outlines what work is being done to mitigate these risks.

In relation to the risk that schools will have an insufficient number of high-quality teachers, the report states that the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Strategy was published in January, which includes actions to mitigate this risk – including transforming support for early career teachers, putting in steps to support flexible working and helping school leaders to reduce workload.

“We are also working with ITT providers to ensure that we are accepting every applicant who is ready to train to teach,” the report states.

Mitigation for the risk of high-needs costs includes an additional £250 million allocated over 2018-19 and 2019-20 and £100 million for capital funding, announced in December 2018.

The report says that if this risk materialised it “would have a serious adverse impact on local authority and school finances, and ultimately the education of disadvantaged children and young people".

"DfE has undertaken work to understand what is driving the cost increases, in order to develop the right strategy going forward,” it says.



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Helen Ward

Helen Ward

Helen Ward is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @teshelen

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