TES Teacher Recruitment Index Reveals Subject and Regional Black Spots in England

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The TES Teacher Recruitment Index is the most comprehensive analysis of the secondary and primary school teacher marketplace in England and is based on interviews with nearly 5,000 schools on their ability to successfully recruit new staff.

The analysis, which compares and benchmarks data back to 2012 when the survey began, is uniquely able to pinpoint trends in recruitment black spots and the latest data shows a downward trend in schools’ ability to appoint teachers in certain areas:

  • Schools in London, the South East and West Midlands are facing the biggest challenges compared to just three years ago.
  • Inner London, Yorkshire & Humber and North West England have experienced the most rapid falls in recruitment rates since 2012.
  • Physics is the hardest subject to recruit for currently, according to the research. Others which are proving difficult include mathematics, English and Information Technology.
  • The impact on schools is an increase in failed recruitment processes and less candidates to choose from:
    • Schools recruiting for physics teachers in London currently receive just 2 applications on average compared to 8 in 2012.
    • Schools recruiting for maths teachers in the East of England now receive just 3 applications on average compared to 7 in 2012.
  • Elsewhere, the picture is more positive for the North East, North West and South West, which are experiencing broadly at the same success with recruitment today as they were in 2012.
  • Schools recruiting for teachers in the classics, performing arts and physical education have plenty of candidates to choose from while recruitment for Special Needs education is another bright spot.



“While we may not be facing a national crisis in teacher recruitment, it will certainly feel like it in some areas. Schools are having to become increasingly creative to find the talent they need,” said Rob Grimshaw, CEO of TES Global. “The TES Recruitment Index shows recruitment challenges facing schools across England in unprecedented detail. By sharing this data we hope to support a collective and targeted response to difficulties with teacher recruitment in specific subjects and regions.”

The research includes a leadership survey of nearly 250 head teachers. Over 45% reported having unfilled positions and the responses underline the lengths that head teachers are having to go to in order to recruit teachers, including looking overseas.

Vic Goddard, Principal at Passmores Academy in Harlow, Essex, said: “This is a challenge all over the country. Our proximity to London means that we are having to work incredibly hard to recruit teachers for shortage subjects, normally with very little success. I am having to think very creatively about how to attract good quality teaching talent for subjects like maths, whether that’s looking overseas or even looking at how we can give teachers somewhere to live to get them to join us.”

Rob Grimshaw, said: “School leaders are finding it exceptionally hard to fill roles in certain regions and subjects. More creative thinking is needed about the recruitment and retention of teachers, such as easier routes for teaching assistants with suitable degrees to become qualified teachers. At TES, we’ve developed a range of flexible online teacher training courses, offered through TES Institute, to help increase access and bring more talented people into the teaching profession.”