School teacher shortages worsening

Schools attempting to recruit will have a view of the Education Committee Report. The landscape depicted is rather bleak. In the foreground are newsworthy headline issues such as National Funding, workload, initial teacher training and recruitment. A positive inclusion – retention. This is the perspective from which the report communicates. On workload, few would argue with Neil Carmicheal’s illustrative comments.

Holding fire on major policy changes and allowing a longer lead-in for government initiatives would allow schools time to focus on subject-specific professional development, rather than being distracted by the demands of the latest Whitehall directive.

Retention is highlighted both in terms of cost efficiency and future leadership capacity.

You can be much more cost effective by improving the retention rate than by having to keep recruiting and training new teachers. – Professor Sir John Holman.

As for a central statement of annual entitlement for professional development, though positive, this is likely to be in direct conflict with funding challenges (by an average of 8 per cent per pupil by 2019-20) and managing workload pressures. Also on note is that Greening’s most recent public address would seem to direct the lions share of CPD funding (the first round £75 million Teaching and Leadership Innovation Fund and the new, fully revised gold-standard national professional qualifications) towards the 12 opportunity areas.

Let’s not kid ourselves, scarcity of teachers, of certain subject specialisms, in particular geographical areas, has already driven up hiring costs. Furthermore, that scarcity arguably encourages the retention of less effective teachers in schools, movement between of schools for all teachers and makes opportunities for others, noteably supply agencies, recruiters and advertisers. What of the 2016 White Paper actions? Still no “free” advertising space.

Then there is the misdirection. ASCL reports that the government has missed its targets for initial teacher education for the last five years whereas DfE has said secondary postgraduate recruitment is “at its highest since 2011.” Nicky Morgan may have reported that “we have the largest number of teachers ever, but we need more,” all I can reference is that pupil numbers are poised to soar (by more than 500,000 to 3.3 million by 2025?) and that our teacher advert views and responses are falling fast and the TES jobs online seems to busier than ever, particualarly Primary; anedoctally of course.

Below is what I wanted Neil Carmichael and Committee to know. The report is broad, informed and it appears the Committee have been receptive. Certainly the oral evidence would support that view.

In line with the tone adopted in the recent Select Committee Report, most school leaders would recognise the root and branch concerns underlined.

Furthermore, I would draw your attention to the damaging consequence of flawed and unsubstantiated performance management approaches and fragile Pay Policy design (the consequences of which have been recently reported in education press). All this investment in spite of Committee’s knowledge that “teachers are not particularly motivated by pay,” Peter Sellen. From my perspective these systems are damaging professional relationships within school.

Second – I have persistently, though unsuccessfully, tried to highlight the damaging influence of accountability and inspection. This is not a rehearsed and blunt criticism of accountability, or of inspection itself, (not lazy leadership passing the buck onto what Ofsted “wants” or workload) but rather a plea for the Education Select Committee to be aware of the unintended influences of these two Goliathian processes – i.e. linking the inspection grade for Leadership and Management to teacher pay, teacher pay directly to student performance, is evidentially flawed.

If I could plead one simple language adaption. Prioritise retention. “Retention and recruitment” and not “recruitment and retention.”

Post script – today I read that school spending on supply teacher agencies has jumped by a fifth in three years.

Is there a more deterministic statistic?

It would be wrong to keep on adding to this post but “the hits just keep on coming.”

Teachers work an average of 12.1 hours in unpaid overtime each week. 

Teachers work more unpaid overtime than nearly anyone else in the country and the situation is getting worse. – (analysis of government statistics by the Trades Union Congress.)

 An increase from 11.9 hours unpaid overtime each week reported last year. 

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