You cannot make bricks without straw

The Chief Inspector’s final report contains many interesting comments and can be downloaded at:

However, for the purpose of this post, the section that I will focus upon deals with teacher supply.  The two key paragraphs are 284 and 285 that are reproduced below.

  1. A lack of government data, both on recruitment and retention, hinders the national response to this issue. It is difficult to understand accurately the extent to which shortages exist at a local level, or the number of teachers moving abroad or between the independent and state sectors. The Department for Education’s teacher supply model is used to identify where new school-centred initial teacher training providers, or allocation of places to providers, may be needed. Currently, this model does not take important regional and local area considerations into account. As a result, there have been no significant changes in the geographical location of initial teacher education (ITE) providers.
  2. In September 2016, the government began piloting a ‘national teaching service’ scheme in the North. It aims to enlist up to 100 teachers to work in primary and secondary schools that are struggling to attract and retain teachers. If successful, and rolled out on a large enough scale, this may have some impact on teacher supply. Page 125

Now none of this comes as any great surprise, especially not to regular readers of this blog. It is worth recalling that the report deals with 2015/16, so doesn’t take into account the slight improvement in training numbers in some subjects recorded in the recent ITT census for 2016.

Of course, you wouldn’t expect me to pass up the opportunity to remind readers that in TeachVac there is a product designed by myself and my programmer and co-founder, Tim Ostley, to answer many of the questions about where the vacancies are. We have looked at adding in international school, but don’t yet have the funding to do so.

We have noted, along with the NAO in their report, the relative paucity of training provision in the East of England, and especially in Suffolk. The following table, prepared for a talk to Suffolk head teachers at the beginning of November shows the recorded vacancies compared with training numbers in Suffolk and across the East of England for the first ten months of 2016.


Vacancies ITT Census 2015
  2016 Suffolk ITT East of England
PE 6 9 121
Music 6 * 43
Mathematics 46 6 147
MFL 13 5 94
Humanities 6 NA NA
History 8 11 102
Geography 13 * 74
English 32 15 178
RE 10 0 80
Design & Technology 25 6 59
IT 13 * 42
Business studies 11 * 17
Science 59 * 243
Art 6 * 63
Drama NA * 31
254 98 1294

*Too low to record the actual number.

There is clearly a need for more training places in this part of the East of England. TeachVac can provide similar data for other areas, if anyone is interested, as we already do for schools facing an Ofsted inspection with Teachsted.

As to the future of the National Teaching Service, we aren’t holding our breath as we wonder whether it will ever progress beyond the trial stage to a full rollout. If it does, TeachVac is handily placed to offer support for such a service.

Finally, as the Chief Inspector’s say, it is the schools with more challenging pupils that suffer most when there is a shortage of teachers, especially if those with three to five years of teaching experience are leaving such schools in much higher numbers that in the recent past. Perhaps, next year, the new Chief Inspector will tell us why this is happening.


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