Teacher recruitment received a mention in the House of Commons yesterday. During Education Questions two Labour MPs asked the Minister, Mr Gibb, about whether was a problem. Chris Leslie from Nottingham cited a school that had spent over £60,000 just on advertising costs. The Minister replied that it wasn’t necessary to spend that kind of money as there are many free recruitment sites. He didn’t list any and apart from TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk it isn’t clear what recruitment sites are free to both schools and teachers, apart, perhaps, from some local authority, diocese or academy trust sites.
As I received an email over the weekend from a governor of a primary school that had spent £8,000 on advertising for a headteacher, the sums are mounting up. Our philosophy at TeachVac is simple, cash should be spent on teaching not on recruiting teachers. The more schools, teachers and trainees that use TeachVac, the more functions we can provide alongside our present advice to schools about the size of the current pool of trainees looking for secondary teaching posts.
Expanding the information about recruitment may be vital to schools as the Future leaders Trust have brought out a Report today called ‘Heads Up’ http://www.future-leaders.org.uk/insights-blog/heads-up-challenges-headteacher-recruitment/ about the challenges of recruiting new headteachers. I was privileged to be asked to contribute to the report, and was delighted to do so, since I spent more than a quarter of a century tracking headteacher vacancies.
Being a head can be a great job but, like any leadership position, it has its challenges and it behoves those responsible for schools to recognise that fact and ensure that enough people want to take on the challenge. With more schools and increased numbers of executive heads there will be a demand for even more school leaders. In our increasingly nationalised school system I hope that someone somewhere is ensuring a sufficient supply of new candidates across the country. I commend the work that the Future Leaders Trust is doing to help with finding the next generation of school leaders.
My guess is that we now need between 2,000-2,500 new head teachers each year: that’s a big ask, especially in the primary sector. The DfE and National College have a good tradition of looking backward at what has happened; they now need to be able to project forward to anticipate problems before they arise. It is all very well the Minister saying the DfE isn’t burying its head in the sand and citing overall teacher numbers, but he didn’t, presumably because he couldn’t, state that there was no problem staffing certain subjects or in some parts of the country.
Next week will see the publication of the first figures for recruitment into teacher preparation course for 2016. As this is the third year of the current admissions system we will have a good idea of how recruitment is going this year, especially in the subjects where recruitment controls have not yet been activated. I am hoping for an improvement over last year and the year before partly because of increased marketing activity, but the recent Income Data Services report on pay might put off some would-be teachers with large loans to repay.