London needs teachers

An analysis of the first 5,600 vacancies recorded in TeachVac the free service for schools and teachers that allows schools to place job announcements and those vacancies to be matched with trainees, teachers and returners looking for a classroom teaching post in a secondary school, has thrown up some interesting information.

Firstly, it looks likely that any secondary school looking for a teacher in the autumn term will have to rely either upon returners or using the services of agencies of others prepared to search for applicants. The trainee pool in most subjects is likely to be exhausted by the summer if the current level of advertisements continues, especially if April is the peak month for recruitment advertising, as it has been in past years.

Of course, the rumblings from the ASCL conference about schools budgets may mean that schools have fewer vacancies to advertise than they would wish. But that may be counter-acted by above average wastage from the profession if other surveys from the teacher associations are correct.

Anyway, what is clear from TeachVac is that around half the vacancies in many subjects recorded so far this year are in just three regions of England; London; the South East; the East of England. This is despite the over-representation of Teach First in London compared with the rest of the country even though it now has a role across the country.

The presence of above average numbers of private schools in and around London may account for the higher levels of posts in the separate sciences and in many vacancies for teachers of specific languages in this part of the country. Elsewhere, the tendency is still to advertise ‘science’ vacancies and for ‘language’ teachers. Although numbers are small, London and the South East account for two thirds of recorded vacancies for teachers of classics.

Unless they are just advertising locally, and not using their own web sites, schools in the North West of England have advertised around 25% fewer vacancies than schools in London so far during 2015. It may be that the large number of trainees in that part of the country means that more schools can offer more posts directly to trainees without needing to advertise a vacancy. Before the advent of academies such behaviour might have been regarded askance in some quarters.

Teachers of PE may struggle the most to find a new job for September unless vacancies increase sharply in the remainder of the year, as may teachers of RE looking for a teaching post in the south West.

Next week will see the publication of the March data on applications through the UCAS unified admissions system for teacher preparation courses starting this autumn. These courses will provide the bulk of new entrants to fill secondary classroom teacher vacancies in 2016. Hopefully, the new TV campaign will have boosted applications, although it may be April before any effect can really be noticed. Without more applicants 2016 looks likely to be an even more challenging recruitment round than this year, especially if dropout rates from preparation courses are also on the increase, as has been suggested to me.


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