It’s official: no recruitment crisis

The Minister for Schools has told the TES there isn’t a recruitment crisis in schools. However, in the same interview he did admit that there was ‘a challenge’ and that the challenge was ‘being managed’. The on-line report of his interview can be found at: https://www.tes.co.uk/news/school-news/breaking-news/schools-minister-there-no-recruitment-crisis

Now it may be mere sophistry to claim that there isn’t a crisis but to admit to a challenge. After all, we don’t have a definition for what would constitute either a crisis or a challenge in teacher recruitment. So let’s try and crunch a few numbers. According to the DfE Teacher Supply Model the for 2014/15 was a need for 14,295 trainees in the secondary sector. Assuming 10% would drop out during the year that would left just under 13,000 potential completers looking for teaching jobs this year if all places had been filled. However, the ITT census, confirmed in figures re-released this week, showed 13,866 trainees were recruited. Take off the 10%, and the available number of trainees is likely to have been 12,500, including the over-recruitment in physical education and history. As the DfE estimates that 50% of classroom teacher vacancies each year are taken by new entrants that would require 25,000 vacancies for classroom teachers in secondary schools across the whole of 2015 to exhaust the pool of trainees. To date, TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk has recorded just over 16,000 such vacancies since January, with just the autumn term to come. So, the headline figure might well not yet be at crisis level, although it is obviously challenging.

However, the DfE has a responsibility not just to worry about the overall numbers, but the component parts as well. Here the TeachVac data reveals a different story. Applying the 50% rule to the ITT pool and setting the number against recorded vacancies since January 2015 reveals that business studies, social studies and design and technology already have more vacancies recorded than trainees. In English, IT and geography the remaining ‘pool’ of trainees is below 10% and in most other subjects the pool is between 20-30%. This latter number should be sufficient, if evenly distributed across the country; but that almost certainly isn’t the case. As a result, some areas of the country will have concerns about recruitment across a wider range of subjects.

It is also worth noting that comparing the School Workforce Census for 2014 with that of 2013, vacancies had increased, albeit as the census is taken in November the absolute numbers were still very low; the percentage of teachers teaching English and mathematics despite not having any post ‘A’ level qualification in the subject had increased and the number of temporary and unqualified teachers had also increased.

Taking all this together, the Minister is definitely correct to accept that there is a challenge. I think he ought to spell out at what level it would become a crisis? He also told the TES that he was ‘managing the challenge’.  Now managing isn’t synonymous with tacking, so I wonder exactly what he meant by managing. I guess, making sure pupils aren’t sent home because a school cannot find a teacher and reminding everyone that not only do academies not need to employ a teacher with qualifications in the subject they don’t even need a qualified teacher: any suitable person will do.

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