Teacher Recruitment and Retention

  • There is increasing evidence of a crisis in teacher recruitment and retention just as the number of pupils and the demand for new teachers begins to increase sharply.  Excessive workload and attacks on pay are driving away teachers and deterring new recruits.
  • In May 2016, the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee criticised the DfE's attempts to recruit teachers and stated in a report that the Department had no plan for how to meet its ITT recruitment targets and did  not understand ”the difficult reality that many schools face in recruiting teachers”.
  • Initial Teacher Training (ITT) figures for 2016/17 show a decrease in the overall number of recruits compared with 2015/16, with only 93% of places being filled. The overall contribution to the secondary target was 89%, meaning nearly 2,000 places went unfilled. 1
  • Since 2015/16, ITT figures have included applicants for Teach First, who were previously excluded from these statistics. This boosted the overall figure for 2016/17 by over 1,000 applicants. Despite the inclusion of Teach First applicants in the ITT statistics, the overall TSM target was not met, for the fourth year in a row.2 
  • In 2015/16, the only subjects where the Teacher Supply Model (TSM) recruitment target was met were biology, geography, history and PE. All other secondary subjects were under-recruited, and some significantly so. For instance, maths recruited just 84% of the required number of trainees, physics 81% and computing 68%.3
  • An NUT survey of leadership group members carried out in March 2016 found that nearly three quarters (73%) of school leaders were experiencing difficulties in recruiting teachers, with 61% saying that the situation had got worse (42%) or much worse (19%) over the last year. The greatest problem areas were in Maths (36% of schools leaders were struggling to recruit in this area), science (34%) and English (23%).
  • The crisis in teacher recruitment means that whilst schools are struggling to fill vacancies, more and more pupils are being taught by teachers who do not have a relevant qualification in the subject. In 2015 less than 75 per cent of maths teachers held a relevant post A-level qualification, a drop of 2% from the year before. The proportion of physics teachers with an appropriate qualification in 2015 was just 62% and for English this figure was 78%, with both subjects also experiencing a decline in specialist teachers since 2014. 
  • DfE figures show that in the 12 months to November 2015 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) over 50,000 qualified teachers in England left the state sector.  This equates to one in ten teachers leaving the profession and is the highest number of teachers leaving in the last decade. The number of teachers leaving as a proportion of the total number of teachers in service, known as the ‘wastage rate', is 10.6 per cent.4  The same figures reveal that more than 100,000 potential teachers have never taught, despite finishing their training.
  • In October 2016, the Government confirmed that nearly a third of teachers who joined the profession in 2010 had left teaching within five years. Of the 21,400 teachers who started working in English state schools in 2010, over 6,400 (30%) had quit by 2015.5
  • The DfE statistics also highlight the significant number of teaching posts that schools are not able to fill permanently; in November 2015 there were 730 teacher vacancies and 2,870 temporarily filled posts where a vacancy existed.6 
  • Analysis by the Labour Party has estimated that secondary schools spent £56 million on advertising for vacant posts in 2015, which was a 61% increase from 2010.
  • In 2015 there was a decrease in the number of qualified teachers and an increase in the number of unqualified teachers. In November 2015, there were 300 fewer qualified teachers in service than in the previous year.  Conversely, there were 2,200 more teachers in service without qualified teacher status then there had been the year before. 
  • In July 2016, the DfE reported that the number of children enrolled in state schools would increase by almost one million within the next decade.7 The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) estimates that, in order to maintain the current pupil:teacher ratio, there would need to be an additional 30,000 teachers in the profession by 2020 to deal with the increase in pupil numbers.8
  • In July 2016, the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) told the Government that an increase in teachers' pay ‘significantly higher than 1%' is required in order to recruit and retain enough teachers over the coming years. Despite this, the increase to the pay ranges for 2016-17 will remain capped at 1%.
  • A survey published in October 2015 by the NUT and YouGov found that over half of teachers were thinking of leaving teaching in the next two years citing ‘volume of workload' (61%) and ‘seeking better work/life balance' (57%) as the two top issues causing them to consider this.9
  • The Government can ill-afford to lose valuable teachers at any time, but especially not in the present context of sharply rising pupil numbers.  Securing teacher supply for the future and preventing teacher wastage requires action to ensure teaching remains an attractive profession for graduates, in particular by offering professional levels of pay and by reducing workload. .

1 DfE – Statistics: initial teacher training. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-trainee-number-census-2016-to-2017

2 Ibid

3 Ibid

4 DFE – Statistics – national statistics - School Workforce in England: November 2015.  Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2015

5 The Guardian (October 2016) Almost a third of teachers quit state sector within five years of qualifying. Available at https://www.theguardian.com/education/2016/oct/24/almost-third-of-teachers-quit-within-five-years-of-qualifying-figures

6 DFE – Statistics – national statistics - School Workforce in England: November 2015.  Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2015

7 National pupil projections: July 2016 – Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-pupil-projections-july-2016


9 NUT commissioned YouGov poll of 1020 teachers carried out in June/July 2015 and published in October 2015. Available at: https://www.teachers.org.uk/news-events/press-releases-england/nutyougov-teacher-survey-government-education-policy

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