Part-time teacher numbers in primary schools more than doubled between Labour coming to power in 1997 and the school census of 2008. In 2007, the number of part-time teachers was the equivalent of just 14,800 full-time teachers; by 2008, this figure had risen to 27,600. In practice, this meant that there were 54,100 part-time teachers working in primary schools at the time of the 2008 census. Yet the numbers of full-time teachers working in the primary sector fell by 10,600 during the same period.
Part of the move from full-time to part-time can be attributed to the decline in the primary school population over the past decade. Smaller schools have been less able to afford as many teachers as before. But, the rise in classroom support staff must also have had an effect. The total of all teaching support staff in primary schools rose from 41,900 in 1997 to 115,000 in 2008.
What is surprising is that the number of administrative and other support staff only increased from 19,400 to 28,400 during the same period, despite the ever growing burden of paperwork faced by schools.
The changes in teacher numbers in the secondary sector have been nowhere near as dramatic. Part-time teacher numbers in secondary schools increased from the equivalent of 13,400 full-time teachers to 19,500 during this period, representing some 33,700 actual teachers, while the number of full-time teachers also increased, from 174,200 to 185,500, before adding in temporary and unqualified staff such as those on the Graduate Training Programme. The future for part-time teachers is likely to be bound up in school funding and trends in pupil numbers, but numbers are unlikely to rise as fast as in the past decade and may fall.