Two-thirds of school leaders believe teacher recruitment crisis will deepen over next two years

Findings come despite government plans to reimburse student loan repayments for new teachers

Martin George

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Two-thirds of school leaders believe teacher recruitment at their schools will get worse over the next two years, a survey has found.

And when asked to name the five biggest challenges facing the education sector, 70 per cent chose teacher recruitment and retention – second only to funding – and almost double the number that cited government policy, in third place.

The findings come in a survey conducted by the Academies Show with support and analysis by an independent research consultant, Mark Gill.

Asked whether they expected their ability to recruit the right teachers would improve or decline in their school over the next two years, 41 per cent said it would “decline a lot”, with 28 per cent saying “decline a little”.

Only 9 per cent said it would improve a little or a lot, while 22 per cent thought it would remain the same.

Recruitment concerns

John Howson, teacher recruitment expert and chair of TeachVac, said the number of people training to be primary teachers was in line with the level of need predicted by the government, but the situation in the secondary sector was bleaker.

He told Tes: “I’m seriously concerned that recruitment in 2018 will be much worse in the secondary sector than last year, and as the number of pupils is going up, I think heads are absolutely right that it’s going to be a problem next year.”

The survey findings come after the Department for Education announced 25 areas across England that will run a pilot scheme to reimburse student loan repayments for modern foreign language and science teachers early in their careers.

And last month, education secretary Justine Greening announced a new drive to encourage flexible working patterns for teachers.

Mr Howson suggested this approach could help address the retention crisis in secondary schools, as its workforce increasingly mirrored the younger and more female profile of the primary sector.

£1.3bn investment

Lucy McPhail, director of the Academies Show, said: “Our research with school leaders shows that teacher recruitment is a very big concern at the moment.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and overall the number of new teachers entering our classrooms outnumbers those who retire or leave.

“We recognise, however, that there are challenges facing schools and we are taking significant steps to address them with £1.3 billion of investment up to 2020 in teacher bursaries. Additionally out teacher workload action plan will provide targeted support to tackle excessive workload where it is most needed.”

The survey was conducted among senior leadership team members in maintained schools and academies across England. About 650 respondents took part in the online survey in September and October 2017 from email invitations sent by The Academies Show. The overall results are weighted to the approximate proportion of maintained schools and academies.

This year’s Academies Show Birmingham is designed to help all types of schools overcome their challenges, learn from their peers’ experiences and meet more than 200 education suppliers. Free registration is still available for those working in the education sector. The event takes place on 22 November

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