Job-sharing - but not as you know it

10th April 2015 at 01:00
Schools look at joint recruitment to overcome staff shortages

Schools are considering pooling their recruitment efforts and sharing teachers across different sites in an attempt to cope with staff shortages in key subjects.

The move could mean that schools work together to hire staff in core curriculum areas, even if the teachers concerned end up working predominantly in one school. Paul MacIntyre, headteacher of Myton School in Warwick, said he was looking to establish links with other secondary schools with a view to collaborating on recruitment.

"In terms of English, maths and science, the collaborative approach may well be more effective than acting alone," he said.

TES revealed earlier this year that record numbers of teachers were leaving the profession (bit.lyTESleaving). Ofsted has also warned that the number of new teachers has fallen by 17 per cent in the past five years, leading to acute shortages in maths and physics, and the government's School Direct training programme filled only 61 per cent of its places this year.

Crisis management

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said a joint approach would help schools to tackle the recruitment crisis.

"Many schools in all parts of the country are experiencing significant difficulties in recruiting staff at all levels," he said. "The teacher supply model is not working, leading to a real shortage of trainee and newly qualified teachers in many subject areas.

"There are a number of advantages in schools working together to address this issue, and where possible we would encourage collaborative approaches."

Mr MacIntyre said that hiring staff together would confer one of the key benefits of being part of a federation or multi-academy trust while allowing schools to retain their independence. "One of the things that is so successful about [multi-academy trusts] is that they can have a personnel view over a number of sites," he said.

Collaboration would also spread the cost of recruiting staff across a number of schools.

The Cabot Learning Federation, which runs seven secondary and five primary academies in south-west England, is one group that has adopted joint recruitment. It employs a number of teachers who work in more than one school: Lisa Pollard is the senior network leader of mathematics, responsible for maths across all Cabot's schools, while Helen Angell and Jayne Selway are specifically charged with raising achievement in English in the secondary academies.

Myton itself has already embarked on one collaborative appointment, working with local primary schools to recruit a key stage 2 teacher to work on transition and nurture.

But Mr MacIntyre recognised that a recruitment pool would not be popular with all teachers. "We need people who are moving between organisations and bringing new ideas, but we also have to have a balance where colleagues who wish to develop a career on one site can do so," he said.

Population boom

Concern over recruitment comes at a time when pupil numbers are rising. Government projections suggest that the number of primary pupils in England will increase by 9 per cent between 2014 and 2023, and secondary school numbers are expected to reach a record high by 2020.

The primary population will increase in all regions over the next two years, with above-average rises in London, and the South East, South West and East of England.

The number of secondary pupils, which has been falling since 2004, is expected to level off this year and start to rise from 2016. Particularly steep growth is expected in London.

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