Some things won’t change following last Thursday’s vote. The school population across most of England will continue to increase for the foreseeable future. Schools will come under more financial pressure, especially so if there is an economic downturn. Whether a new funding formula for schools will still be on the agenda in the short-term is a matter of ‘wait and see’. In a period of uncertainty, will Ministers want to provoke possible losers into action, especially if among the winners most will probably have voted overwhelmingly for a Tory government in 2015.
There is far more uncertainty over the direction of teacher supply. One the one hand, should there be a downturn in the economy and a resultant reduction in demand for graduates, teaching as a career should benefit, as it has done in the past during any downturn in the economy. On the other hand, teaching has depended in recent years on an increasing number of women choosing it as a career. Since many of them have partners that aren’t in education, how these significant others react to the economic and political scenes will be as important as how the teachers themselves react.
With a significant portion of the profession under the age of 40, we will know the exact proportion in a couple of weeks’ time when the 2015 School Workforce Census results are made public, it is the actions of the younger age groups of teachers that will be of most significance. Will they go or will they stay? To some extent this may depend upon whether the economic fallout from the referendum vote only has local implications for the economy of the United Kingdom or whether it helps trigger a wider slowdown across the world. My betting is on the former, with a crisis similar to that seen in South East Asia in 1997, but I might be wrong.
As part of the School Workforce Census data it would be helpful if the DfE could release the number of EU teachers granted QTS over the past five years. What countries they came from, what phase and the subject they are teaching and also where would also be useful information for those of us thinking about the future. ITT providers are making requests for 2017 allocations at this time, a process TeachVac www.teachvac.com is helping with for those that have requested data, but it would also help to know what other factors might affect the labour market in 2018 and through to January 2019 when the 2017 trainees are required to fill their share of vacancies.
There is also the question of how to handle the shortfall in expertise generated by up to four years of under-recruitment into training in some subjects. Does the DfE just leave it to schools to sort out, a favoured policy in the past by governments of all complexions, or does it look to a policy of CPD to improve the skills of those teaching subjects where they lack appropriate knowledge and expertise? Not to do so might be to abandon the challenge laid down by the retiring Chief Inspector of helping to close the attainment gap between the different sections of our nation. I support that aim and would not want it lost if education comes off badly in any turmoil during the next few years.