A new report from the Department for Education states that “at a national level, we are recruiting the teachers we need” and that teacher vacancy rates have remained “low and relatively stable” since 2010.
The department's evidence to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) goes on to note that “teaching continues to be an attractive profession for high-quality graduates”. It does add that it recognises that “teacher recruitment has been a challenge, particularly in some subjects and for some schools”.
But the DfE's general tone in its submission to the teacher pay review body is likely to infuriate those who have been frustrated by its approach to the teacher recruitment crisis.
It comes just two days after Meg Hillier, chair of the Commons public accounts committee, described the department’s action on addressing teacher shortages as “sluggish and incoherent”.
Ms Hillier was speaking as the committee published its report on the teacher workforce which said the government needed to do more to tackle retention – by monitoring workload, doing more to promote flexible working and even taking into account housing costs.
Teacher pay rise
The report also said that it was concerned that the cost of living was making it difficult to recruit and retain teachers.
And there was a hint today that teachers could expect a rise of more than 1 per cent in 2018 – as a briefing note from the DfE on its evidence to the STRB pointed out that the government's 1 per cent cap on public sector pay policy has been lifted.
It was also made clear that ministers wanted to allow schools flexibility over how much extra to pay teachers rather than having a simple headline rise.
“We have asked the independent School Teachers’ Review Body to take account of the government’s new flexible approach to public sector pay, which it will consider alongside a range of evidence before making its recommendations on teacher pay for the coming year,” Nick Gibb, schools standards minister, said.
“It is important that schools are able to recruit and retain the teachers they need. That is why we have given schools freedom over staff pay so they can reward the most experienced teachers and attract the brightest and best.”
For September 2017, the DfE confirmed the STRB’s recommendation that teachers would receive a 1 per cent pay rise with teachers at the bottom of the main pay scale getting a 2 per cent increase.
Individual teacher’s pay is decided by headteachers and is linked to performance.