Warning lights flashing amber

The publication today of the 2014 School Workforce Census data by the government https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2014 allows a review of the key indicators about the staffing of schools across England To this new data can be added the re-publication of the ITT data for courses in 2014-15, first published last November. The latter showed that only 93% of primary and 91% of secondary courses were filled when measured against the demand identified using the Teacher Supply Model. These numbers don’t appear to have changed since last November when they were first released.

According to the School Workforce Census, the number of vacancies reported by schools in November was 1,030. This is 280 more than in the previous year, although as one might expect from a census taken in November, the absolute figure as a percentage of the workforce has only increased from 0.2 to 0.3. Still, it is at its highest since the census moved to November in 2010 when it stood at just 380 vacancies.

The other key indicator of possible recruitment challenges comes from the percentage of lessons taken by those without a relevant post-A Level qualification in the subject. These percentages have increased for pupils in Years 7-13 in maths by 2.8%, so that only 79.8% of pupils this year were being taught the subject by a teacher with a relevant qualification. In English, the increase was 1.8% to 83% and in the sciences it was 1.2%, so that only 86.4% of pupils were being taught by a qualified science teacher of any description in November 2014.

The other indicator is the use of unqualified and temporary teachers. The number of unqualified teachers increased between 2013 and 2014 from 16,600 to 20,300 and is now the highest number recorded since the census moved to November. However, some of the increase may be due to the manner of recording those on Teach First and School Direct in schools. The number of temporary teachers increased from 13,500 to 14,100 and is above the 2010 figure of 12,200. Since sickness absence taken by teachers showed a slight decline, the increase in the number of temporary teachers is another possible indicator of staffing issues.

As this blog has regularly reported, the acceptances for entry into training in 2015 will not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the Teacher Supply Model, so we now know that recruitment for some schools, especially in and around London, but not exclusively in this area, will again be a challenge in 2016.

I published a blog earlier in the week with suggestions for how to tackle the training shortfall and it is clear that regardless of the Bill currently going through parliament, all schools, whether or not they are academies, will find progress challenging if they cannot recruit appropriately trained staff.

Had the census still been taken in January, as it used to be, then the 2016 data might make more worrying reading. But, the time for action is now, not when the growing size of the problem overwhelms the government and its Regional Commissioners.

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