Teacher Shortage Crisis

28 March 2016

NUT Conference 2016

Teacher Shortage Crisis

Commenting after the debate on Motion 43, Christine Blower, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:

“Teaching recruitment and retention are both at dangerously low levels, with many schools unable to fill vacant posts with suitably qualified candidates.  Increasing numbers are also leaving the profession. Last year saw the highest number of resignations for a decade.  NUT surveys of primary, secondary and leadership members show that the majority of teachers are considering leaving the profession in the next two years. (1) This is a desperately serious situation.

“The causes of the retention problem are clear: workload, workload, workload – for not enough pay.  It is not just the hours worked – though they are too high – but the sheer amount of time spent on an accountability system which functions as though it doesn’t trust teachers. Teachers are expected to paste in photos of their lessons, write down verbal feedback to students, and provide lesson plans in immense detail. None of this helps teachers to teach. Add to that a fear of Ofsted, and a dysfunctional accountability system which leaves many teachers working well into the evening and through every weekend.

“Teachers’ pay has now fallen by around 15% in 5 years on the back of Government pay policy and inflation. This leaves teacher salaries trailing behind other graduate professions, while a chaotic performance related pay system means that young people have no clear idea of what they will be paid in 2 or 5 years’ time.   This lack of a clear career path is of course deterring many from entering teaching.

“There are no winners here apart from teaching supply agencies, who have been cashing in on the teacher shortage by charging schools introductory fee payments, some of them up to 20% of a teacher’s salary. If a school is expected to do this for 15 to 20 teachers a year, the cost to a single school will be between £60–100k. It is dreadful that agencies, concerned first and foremost about profits, are exploiting the situation in this way. This is not money well spent.

“Student numbers are set to increase significantly, so recruiting more teachers and retaining those we already have is clearly essential. Government needs to urgently address workload and teachers’ pay. If not, more and more teachers will simply leave, and graduates will look elsewhere for a career.” Editor’s Note

The NUT conducted a snapshot survey of primary teachers, secondary teachers, and members in leadership roles. Please follow the links for more information.

The NUT’s Annual Conference is taking place this Easter weekend in Brighton. For the Final Agenda, please click here.