Don’t Panic?

This has been a good week for TeachVac ( the free to use recruitment site that I helped establish. Not only did it receive a mention in The Guardian on Tuesday – in Fiona Millar’s piece about recruitment challenges – but it also featured on BBC Breakfast TV on Wednesday morning. As a result, I have been on a number of local radio stations at various times this week following their picking up on one or other of the pieces in the national media.

So, what is the situation for September 2016? A trend we at TeachVac noted in December and have seen continuing in January is a larger than expected number of advertisements in the three key EBacc subjects; English, mathematics and the sciences. One of the problems of pre-recording media interviews several days in advance is that percentages change and it is important not to over-estimate. Thus the 40% increase that is being used in some quarters was actually an under-representation of the change between this year and last during the first two weeks of January. Of course what we will not know for several months is whether the increase is a genuine increase in demand or just a change in behaviour on the part of some schools that have brought forward recruitment, perhaps on the basis of anticipated need rather than an actual vacancy in order to start the process early. Now that some academy chains have changed their dates for resignation to the start of term that may also be an influencing factor.

Whatever the reason, or reasons, we are still seeing more advertisements than in 2015. This makes the fact that TeachVac is free to schools, teachers and trainees ever more important. After all, TeachVac was established to help reduce the cost of recruitment. If the free to use model works for Twitter, why not for teacher recruitment?

The team at Teachvac regularly has schools phoning us and asking, ‘can the process of advertising a vacancy really be that simple and free as well?’ The answer, of course is yes. If you don’t believe it and haven’t  yetseen the demonstration video on the site, then I urge you to have a look and tell the remaining schools, teachers and trainees that still haven’t signed up to do so.

Schools that enter vacancies into TeachVac for secondary main scale teachers are told the current state of the ‘free pool’ of possible applicants. TeachVac issued its first alert of 2016 this week when the ‘free pool’ in English slipped below the two thirds level. If advertisements continue at this rate there won’t be enough new entrants to ensure all vacancies can be easily filled throughout the year. Not a problem yet, but it could become the autumn for schools looking at vacancies in January 2017.

At TeachVac, we believe this early warning can help when timetables are constructed as it provides early warning of potential challenges. The changing position is updated regularly in the TeachVac monthly newsletters and other Reviews we publish. Schools, local authorities and other interested parties, such as subject associations and teaching schools, can access more detailed information for a small fee.

My assessment of the 2016 recruitment round, at least for secondary main scale teachers, where the data is richest, is that the increasing school population is starting to affect demand and the under-recruitment into preparation last September will cause issues for some schools in some subjects. Perhaps that’s why the train to be a teacher advert made an appearance on Channel 4 last evening. But, more about recruitment for 2016 at the end of the month when new figures will appear from UCAS.


2 thoughts on “Don’t Panic?

  1. Do other countries have similar problems recruiting teachers? I suspect it tends to happen in countries where governments are hypercritical of their teachers.

    • Frank,

      It depends upon a range of factors but government support for teachers is obviously one of them. The size of the market for graduates is another key factor as is the output of universities and other higher education establishments. Retention and age of retirement also play a part.


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