New survey shows that teachers want to help break the recruitment crisis cycle

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  • Talk of teacher shortages is self-perpetuating – over a third of teachers said talk about a “recruitment crisis” made them feel more likely to leave the profession
  • But teachers want to play an active part in the debate about recruitment. 67% said they would feel more optimistic if they were “treated as partners in the debate, rather than objects of discussion”
  • TES Teacher Recruitment Index data shows relative improvement on previous autumn recruitment period, although it’s clear that a large proportion of teachers are looking to leave the profession or work abroad in the next three years

A study of 4,000 UK teachers carried out by TES Global – a digital education company that has been supporting educators for over 100 years – shows that the debate around current teacher shortages may be self-perpetuating, with 31% saying talk about a “recruitment crisis” made them feel more likely to leave the profession.

Teachers are however demanding a greater say in how to fix the crisis and want to play an active part in the debate about recruitment. 67% said they would feel more optimistic if they were “treated as partners in the debate, rather than objects of discussion.”

Rob Grimshaw, CEO of TES Global said: “Teachers are putting their hands up to be more involved in fixing the current recruitment challenges and this offers a real opportunity for school leaders and policy makers. Highly-engaged teachers, if given an outlet for their ideas, could play a vital role in key areas such as attracting new entrants to the profession, encouraging other teachers to remain in the classroom, advising policy makers on how to retain teachers and helping stakeholders to understand the causes of the shortages.”

Recruitment woes easing up in the autumn, but blackspots remain

The latest data from the TES Teacher Recruitment Index, which tracks schools’ ability to successful recruit teachers, shows recruitment was slightly easier in autumn 2015 than in the previous year. Some regions saw a marked improvement. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the success rate rose by 17 index points after three years of continuous falls – and there were rises in London, South East England and the West Midlands.

However, below the headline finding, there are causes for concern. In all subjects except art and design and design technology, it is harder to recruit now than it was in 2012. In autumn 2015 the recruitment rate was 20 index points below the 2011 level, and some regions are having a particularly tough time.

The success rate for teacher recruitment in the East of England fell by 14 index points this year to its lowest-ever level, making the region the hardest place in England to recruit teachers. The East Midlands, North East, North West and South West also saw falls.

School leaders expect to be addressing these issues with falling budgets

A TES Leadership Survey, carried out in January 2016, found a sharp rise in school leaders’ levels of concern they would be understaffed next year. Most school leaders expect to be addressing these issues with falling budgets. 69% of primary school leaders and 72% of those at secondaries said their school’s funding was likely do decrease over the next three to four years.

Teachers in England don’t feel valued, but they know they would be valued overseas

A Teacher Happiness Survey found just 4% of teachers believed now was “the best time to be a teacher”. Most (85%) said being a teacher “was better in the past than it is today” and 11% said being a teacher would be better in future. And despite teaching having traditionally been seen as a stable and well-respected career path, only 16% of teachers said they would now advise their own children to enter the profession.

This loss of confidence has prompted large numbers to think about leaving the classroom. The 17% that said they “don’t have any plans to leave the teaching profession” were outnumbered by the 18% that said they were “certain” to quit teaching within three years - and a further 11% said they were “seriously looking to leave the teaching profession”. This suggests England could expect to lose more than a quarter of its teachers.

Most teachers would consider teaching abroad, with a minority (44%) of respondents saying they expect their teaching career to always be in the UK. Just over 5% said they were “certain” that they would be working as a teacher in another country in the next three years, and a further 4% said they were “seriously looking” for a teaching job in another country. In London, teachers are more mobile still: 8% said they were “certain” to be teaching abroad in three years’ time.


About the Index

The TES Teacher Recruitment Index tracks trends in the changing ability of schools in England to recruit teachers across regions, subjects and school type. This unique and comprehensive survey is updated with 5,000 new school interviews three times a year, asking a series of questions on their ability to successfully recruit teachers.

It is based on four years of data, indexed relative to a 2011 benchmark. Index numbers do not represent percentages, but a relative measure of change and trends measured through points.

Download the full report here.