London teacher labour market most active

August was a more active month than normal in the labour market for teachers. Although vacancies in the primary sector were subdued, the secondary sector remained active, with nearly 800 new vacancies published during the month according to TeachVac

Nearly two thirds of the vacancies, 64%, were posted by located schools in London, the South East and East of England regions, with the remainder of the country accounting for only around a third of vacancies. In some subjects, the percentage was even higher, with 29 out of the 40 posts for teachers of geography listed by schools in these three regions. No such posts were tracked across either the North East or North West regions.

As might be expected, demand for teachers of history during August was limited, with just 14 posts identified. Interestingly, only two of these posts were advertised by schools in London and the three regions of London, the South East and East of England only accounted for 5 of the 14 vacancies.

TeachVac provides a regular monthly newsletter for both schools and teachers. The service is free to teachers, as is the use of the jo board to match teachers to vacancies on a daily basis.

Schools pay a nominal fee of £10 for their newsletter.

From the end of this month, TeachVac will end its free matching service for schools. To cover its operating costs, and ensure that data collection remains of the highest quality, from October schools are being asked to pay £1 for every match made between a teacher and one of their vacancies. There is an annual limit of £500 per secondary school, beyond which point remaining matches in the 12 months are free. For primary schools, the cap is set at £75. This means just 75 matches are required to hit the limit, and all further matches that year are free.

During September, TeachVac has put in place a special offer of £250 for secondary schools and just £50 for primary schools: effectively, half-price for an annual subscription regardless of the annual number of matches made during the year.

To date, in 2022, TeachVac has made 1.95 million matches between jobseekers and schools with vacancies, covering both state-funded and private schools across England. By the end of September, the 2 million matches mark will have been passed.

Schools, MATs, diocese and other groups signing up now at will always be placed at or near the top of the daily matching algorithm, ensuring teachers see their vacancies first. This is an added bonus on top of the half-price offer.

If you would like more information, either email or send me a message via the comment section.

Please circulate this post to those responsible for recruitment in schools. Sign up in September for a half-price fixed fee. If you need convincing, ask TeachVac how many matches have been made in 2022 for your school or group of schools using the email address above and the code MATCH22.

Headship: does school type matter when recruiting?

How much does the type of school matter when trying to recruit a new headteacher? More many years than I can count, indeed almost since I started researching the labour market for school leaders in England, way back in the1980s, it has seemed that data has always pointed to certain schools finding recruitment a challenge.

So, with a bit of spare time, I thought I would look at the experiences in one large shire county (not Oxfordshire) in the period between January 2021 and the end of July 2022.

Vacancies for headteachers in state-funded primary schools – one shire county Jan 21-July22

% 2+52%44%47%61%0%
Source TeachVac

Interestingly, although Infant schools appear to fare better than other schools in terms of recruiting after a single advertisement, three of the ten schools in the table placed their first advertisement during either June or July of 2022. Discounting those schools produces a 2+ percentage for infant schools of 61% and not 52%. This is the same as for Church of England Primary Schools.

However, although most infant and junior schools in this locality are Maintained schools, there are some Church of England Infant and junior schools, and they seem more likely than the maintained schools to have to re-advertise.

Indeed, Church of England schools account for all of the primary schools with more than two rounds of advertisements for a headteacher. These include one school with the original vacancy plus six rounds of re-advertisements and another school with the original advertisement plus nine further rounds of advertisements between May 2021 and June 2022.

In any normal year, about half of headteacher vacancies appear between January and March. Vacancies advertised later in the year tend to be harder to fill unless there is local interest in taking on the school. Unless a primary school has access to subscription advertising for its vacancies, this can become an expensive business, especially for a small primary school. MATs may be able to cover these costs, but with local authorities not able to top-slice school budgets in the same way, this can be an expensive problem for governing bodies, especially if headteachers only stay in post for a few years in such schools.

There is much less of an issue in filling vacancies for headteachers of secondary and all-through schools, although some of the same caveats about timing remain. Also, for the secondary sector, the type of school and its Free School Meals ranking outside of recessionary times may affect the degree of interest. These issues are discussed further in TeachVac’s annual review of the leadership labour market in England.

So, a community primary school advertising in January each year should have little difficulty finding a new headteacher. The governing body of a Church of England school whose headteacher needs replacing in June will probably find themselves facing a challenge in their search for a replacement.

TeachVac’s intelligence reports

TeachVac has created a new suite of reports on the labour market for teachers. These report on the current state of play in the market for specific areas. However, reports by subjects and phase across wider areas are also available on request to those interested in specific curriculum areas.

The basic report tracks the vacancies for teachers from classroom to the head’s study across schools in a given area and reports the finding by subjects or the primary phase in three categories:

The reports can be tailored to cover any grouping of schools, although local authorities and dioceses are the most common formats. However, MATs and parliamentary constituency-based report are also possible, along with reports for schools in either Opportunity Areas or the new Education Investment Zones or whatever they are called today.


Maintained schools

 Private Schools

Reports are produced up to the end of the month, with current report for 2022 covering the period from January to the end of May 2022.

The reports are currently useful for those considering the shape of teacher preparation provision in the future by demonstrating the actual need for teachers in specific parts of the country across both the State and private school markets. The DFE’s own evidence doesn’t take into account the private sector demand for teachers and misses out on some school in the TeachVac pool.

TeachVac’s reports can also be useful for those concerned with professional development by identifying middle and senior leader vacancies where the new postholder may need some professional development.

The basic reports on an individual or group of local authorities costs £250 per primary or secondary sector for a 12-month subscription.  Prices for other grouping or for multiple groupings are negotiable depending upon the amount of work required.

Sample reports are available on request from either John Howson at or

Reports can be generated for data up to the end of the previous month in a matter of days once an order has been placed.

Forget the White paper: the crisis is now

There must be a lot of nervous secondary school headteachers at the start of this Easter break. Over the past two weeks TeachVac has recorded 7,800 new vacancies for teachers. These vacancies have been posted by schools across England, but especially by schools in the South East Region. Nationally, the total is a record for any two-week period during the past eight years that TeachVac has been collecting data on vacancies from state and private schools across England.

I can confidently predict that not all these vacancies will be filled, and that some will be filled by teachers with ‘less than ideal’ subject knowledge. So bad is the situation nationally that one major international recruitment agency is offering a rereferral bonus of £250, presumably to attract new teachers to its books to help fill vacancies. With the size of TeachVac’s list of candidates that are matched each day with vacancies that puts an interesting valuation on the company.

Seriously though, TeachVac has an index that compares recorded vacancies with the reported number of trainees from the DfE’s census. This system has used a consistent methodology for eight years and is now also showing signs of how much stress the system is under. Not for twenty years, during what was the severe recruitment challenge around the millennium, have secondary schools, especially in parts of the south of England, but not exclusively in that area of the country, faced recruitment challenges on the present scale.

As readers of previous posts will know, the intake into training for September 2022 isn’t looking healthy either at present as was confirmed in the chat during the recent APPG webinar on the White Paper.

With fewer partners of EU citizens probably coming to work here as teachers while their partners used to work elsewhere in the economy, and the international school scene not yet affected by the geo-politics of the moment, it is probably correct to talk of an emerging crisis now reaching most parts of the curriculum outside of schools recruiting primary school teachers and physical education, history and art teachers in secondary schools.

The predictions about any crisis and its depth compared to previous years will be confirmed if there are a large number of re-advertisements in early May, especially if they come with added incentives such as TLRs and Recruitment and Retention bonuses as schools seek to ensure timetables are fully staffed for September 2022.

One casualty of the present situation may well be the levelling up agenda in a market-based labour market. All else being equal, where would a teacher choose to work, a school that is challenging or one that is less demanding?  Last spring, I wrote a blog about the challenges schools in the West Midlands with high levels of free school meals faced in recruiting teachers when compared with other schools in the same area. TeachVac is again collecting this data for schools across England.  However, with this level of vacancies we won’t have the funds to analyse the data this year.

Recruitment 2022: a rough ride to come

Can you tell anything about the 2022 recruitment round for teachers in England based upon just four days of vacancy data? One of the advantages of a job board such as TeachVac is the it has sufficient cumulative data on vacancies that can be allied with data about the numbers of teachers on preparation courses to be able to provide some helpful comments on the labour market, even after just four days of data.

For those that are sceptical of such a claim, consider sampling theory. A simple example is to assume a bowl of soup. A small spoonful will tell you whether or not the bowl if full of hot soup. Now scale up to a vat size container. Will a small sample tell you the same answer for the whole? Now purists might maintain that the bottom of the vat could be hotter than the top; I would agree. Taking that comment to vacancy data means that the comments for England as a whole might well include differences across the regions. Such an objection is true, and that is why each month TeachVac produces regional data for most secondary subjects and the primary sector. But it doesn’t invalidate sampling as a useful tool.

Anyway, back to our sample of 2022, and what I think it tells schools about the recruitment round this year. The first point is that it confirms what was being said at the end of 2021, appointments for September 2022 will be more of a challenge almost across the board as the 2020 bounce in interest in teaching as a career drops out of the supply side.

How bad will 2022 be? Well, nothing of concern in art, PE and history. Indeed, schools might well be starting to consider whether they can make use of an extra history teacher and perhaps an extra PE teacher to make use of the best of the trainees with second subject expertise in the pool of jobseekers.

At the other end of the scale, the usual suspects of design and technology where there will be real issues with recruitment have been joined this year by geography, modern languages and English. In the case of the latter two subjects this is partly because of the number of trainees on courses that will either already have placed them in the classroom or make it likely that they won’t be looking on the open market for a teaching post. Independent schools should take especial note of this fact when considering how easy it will be to recruit a teacher.

Most of the other subjects have seen the size of their ‘free pool’ decline this year compared with 2021, and that will have implications for January 2023 appointments. Such vacancies may be hard to fill in many subjects in those parts of England where recruitment is a challenge; namely London and the Home Counties.

Schools that have signed up to TeachVac’s £1,000 maximum annual recruitment package will receive regular updates on the state of the labour market, including local knowledge. On registration, and at no cost, schools receive a detailed report on the labour market.

Recruiters tell me that TeachVac is ‘too cheap’ to succeed because nothing that cheap could be any good. My principle in founding the job board was to show that recruitment advertising need not cost a lot of money. I still believe that to be true. Do you?

£30,000 starting salary for teachers by 2022?

The DfE has published the letter it writes each year to the STRB (School Teachers Review Body) about it view of the pay levels for teachers and school leaders. This year, there is mention of recruitment issues and teacher supply as a factor for the STRB to consider.

The government has clearly accepted the need for a £30,00 starting salary for teachers outside London, with presumably higher rates within the pay bands governing the salary ranges for teachers in and around London. The letter from the DfE states that:

I refer to the STRB the following matters for recommendation:

• An assessment of the adjustments that should be made to the salary and allowance ranges for classroom teachers, unqualified teachers and school leaders to promote recruitment and retention, within the bounds of affordability across the school system as a whole and in the light of my views on the need for an uplift to starting salaries to £30,000.

The cliff edge created by the boundary of the national pay scale and London scales is of importance to many county authorities around London such as Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. Too large a gap and schools in those areas will face significant recruitment challenges for teachers at all levels from the classroom to the head’s office.

I am not sure why the DfE mentions capital spending in the letter as that is not within the remit of the STRB. However, the DfE does acknowledge that:

Teacher quality is the most-important in-school determinant of pupil outcomes. That is why, in June, my department announced over £250 million of additional funding to help provide 500,000 world-leading teacher training opportunities throughout teachers’ careers. We recognise that alongside this training and development, we also need to reward the best teachers as well as provide a competitive offer that attracts top graduates and professionals into the profession. It is therefore right that additional investment in the core schools’ budget is in part used to invest in teachers, with investment targeted as effectively as possible to address recruitment and retention challenges and, ultimately, ensure the best outcomes for pupils.

Of interest to TeachVac is the following.

Considerations to which the STRB should have regard

In considering your recommendations on the 2022/23 and 2023/24 pay awards, you should have regard to the following:

 a) The need to ensure that any proposals are affordable across the school system as a whole;

b) Evidence of the national state of teacher and school leader supply, including rates of recruitment and retention, vacancy rates and the quality of candidates entering the profession;

c) Evidence of the wider state of the labour market in England;

 d) Forecast changes in the pupil population and consequent changes in the level of demand for teachers;

e) The Government’s commitment to the autonomy of all head teachers and governing bodies to develop pay arrangements that are suited to the individual circumstances of their schools and to determine teachers’ pay within the statutory minima and maxima.TeachVac has recorded more than 64,000 vacancies for teachers during 2021, including a record number of vacancies during December 2021. The STRB might like to review the cost-benefits of the different recruitment methods in use at present and comment on their benefits to both teachers and schools.

After all, reducing recruitment costs paid by schools to a minimum will help release cash to pay for higher salaries while increasing the autonomy of headteachers and governing bodies. Perhaps there should be a Recruitment Czar?

‘We need more black headteachers in our schools’

‘This blog was founded on the idea that data was important. Had the Labour government of Blair and Brown not abolished the mandatory qualification for headship, this issue of who becomes a head teacher would have been visible much earlier and more widely debated. Sadly, it has been relegated to regular research studies and the data that the DfE collects from the annual census of the workforce. The issue of ethnicity has been ignored for too long.

It may be the Workforce data that has convinced the Secretary of State to pay attention to the fact that of nearly 69,000 teachers recorded as from minority groups -including white minorities – only 1,530 were headteachers. Over the past few years, the number has barely altered.

yearEthnic minority Head teachers (including white minorities)
Ethnic Minority Headteacher Numbers- England

Derived from DfE School Workforce Data

Between the 205/16 school-year and the last school -year there were only 57 more headteachers from minority groups across all types of schools. The DfE data does allow evidence of where these headteachers are located.

Looking back at a Report that I wrote for the NAHT in 2001, I find that I said even then that:

it is of concern that in such a multi-cultural society as Britain has become, these posts are still so unrepresentative of the groups that make up that society.’

The same view appeared regularly in the future reports written for the NAHT during the remainder of that decade. It is, therefore, of interest that the secretary of State made his remarks to an NAHT Conference.

The Conference was told that less than 0.2% of school leaders were Black and female. Lack of black headteachers ‘not good enough’, says Education Secretary | Metro News

The data for appointments to headship in the first decade of the century can be found in Table 3 of The leadership aspirations and careers of black and minority ethnic teachers by Olwen Mcnamara, myself, Helen Gunter and Andrew Fryers. The research was conducted for the NASUWT and the then NCTL. The report still remains, along with the reports on entry to the profession conducted for the College, some of the most detailed research into the issues of ethnic minority teachers in England and their careers.

Most headteachers for ethnic minority backgrounds have been located in areas where there are higher concentrations of pupils with similar backgrounds. Thus, there are large areas of rural England where headteachers from ethnic minority backgrounds are rarely to be found, especially the further north and west from London the school is located.

To encourage headteachers from ethnic minority backgrounds there needs to be more teachers to fill the pipeline to leadership. The Secretary of State might like to consider the issue of recruitment into teaching now the DfE has full responsibility for managing the process.

Teaching must be representative of society as a whole. As I wrote in an article nearly 30 years ago, teaching must not become a profession that is ‘young, white and female’.

Leadership trends in schools- 2020

TeachVac the free to use teacher vacancy site is putting together its annual reviews of the labour market for teachers in England. The first of these is on leadership turnover in schools.

Here are some of the headlines from the draft report.

  • More leadership vacancies were recorded in the primary sector during 2020, while vacancies recorded in the secondary sector during 2020 remained at a similar level to 2019.
  • In the primary sector some 1,497 head teacher vacancies were recorded. The number for the secondary sector was 387 vacancies during 2020.
  • For schools advertising during the 2019-20 school year, there was a re-advertisement rate for primary schools of 28%: for secondary school headteacher vacancies, the re-advertisement rate was lower at 23%.
  • Schools in certain regions and with other characteristics that differentiates the school from the commonplace are more likely to experience issues with headteacher recruitment.
  • There were a similar number of vacancies for deputy heads in the secondary sector during 2020 than 2019. Fewer vacancies were recorded for the primary sector.
  • Secondary schools advertised slightly more assistant head teacher vacancies during 2020 than during 2019. There were fewer vacancies recorded in the primary sector during 2020 than in 2019. 
  • Tracking leadership vacancies has become more challenging as the means of recruitment have become more diversified in nature.
  • The covid-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the senior staff labour market from April 2020 until the end of the year.

What might be the outcome of the new lockdown? As the majority of vacancies at all levels in education are for September starts in a new job the later the more senior vacancies are advertised the more pressure on vacancies for other posts. Normally, half the annual volume of headteacher adverts appear in the first three months of the year. Will that pattern be replicated this year? Perhaps it is too early to tell. Will headteachers, and especially headteachers in primary schools faced with more problems than normal and lacking the level of administrative support that their secondary school colleagues enjoy just decide enough is enough and take early retirement? Will the pay freeze make matters worse, especially if pensions still rise in line with RPI?

TeachVac will be watching these trends for senior staff turnover, along with others in the labour market. Often in the past, a rising level of house prices has been bad for senior staff recruitment in high cost housing areas as staff can move to lower cost areas, but it is challenging for staff to move into those areas without incentives. The Stamp Duty relaxation has pushed up housing prices, at least in the short-term. Will these increases have an impact on leadership turnover?

The current age profile of the teaching profession should be favourable to the appointment of senior leaders but, as this blog has pointed out in the past, there may not be enough deputy heads in the primary sector with sufficient experience to want to move onto headship at the present time.

All these trends will need monitoring carefully as 2021 unfolds.

If you want the full report or data for specific areas, please contact

Head Teacher Vacancies increase this autumn

More head teachers are quitting this autumn. TeachVac, the national free vacancy service for the education market in England reported a 20% increase in advertised vacancies for primary head teachers in the three month from September to end of November 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

The figures recorded by TeachVac were:

2019       276

2020       329

There was no such corresponding increase in secondary school headship vacancies. However, that might be down to the greater number of academies in the secondary sector, and a different attitude to filling in-year vacancies by such Trusts..

This increase comes during what is normally a quiet period for recruitment at the start of a school-year.’

The concern must be that this is an early warning sign of a large outflow of head teachers at the end of the summer term next year. Are there deputies willing to step up to the top job? The pressure of head teachers during the past year has been immense, with some having had little or no time away from school since the start of the pandemic.

Over the year to the end of November TeachVac recorded 1,383 vacancies for primary head teachers compared with 1,315 during the same period in 2019. So far, in2020, there have been 355 recorded vacancies secondary school head teachers, compared with 342 in the period between January and the end of November 2019.

Recorded vacancies for assistant head teachers and deputy head teachers have fallen so far in 2020 when compared with 2019. In the secondary sector, there has been a small increase in vacancies at both grades during 2020.

The three months between January and the end of March normally constitutes the main recruiting season for new leadership appointments. Approximately half of all such vacancies are advertised during these three months.

Enough potential school leaders?

When I wrote a blog recently about the significant level of head teacher vacancies recorded by both TeachVac and the DfE vacancy site during August, I promised to look into the possible size of the pool of school leaders able to step up to fill headships in the primary sector. (Feeling the Strain 31st August 2020)

The new arrangement for viewing the DfE Statistics of the School Workforce in November 2019 made this more of a challenge than in the past. Indeed, I have still not fathomed whether it is possible to add in age groupings as a variable in the composite table searchers are allowed to create from the data? This is an important variable in answering the question about leadership pool of talent since deputy and assistant heads in some age groups may be expected to be lacking in experience in post sufficient to consider promotion to a headship.

Even better would be details about age and length of service in post, something provided way back in the 1990s, but not seemingly available now without a specific data request. Perhaps the teacher associations might like to consider this issue in their next evidence to the Pay Review Body the STRB).

Historically, most head teachers are appointed from the ranks of deputy head teachers, although, as some small primary schools don’t have a deputy, a number of assistant heads or even teachers with a TRL have been appointed to headships in the past. More recently, deputy heads in secondary schools have been moved across to primary schools in the same Academy Trust in order to fill vacancies for primary head teacher posts.

Looking at the data for the last four years from the School Workforce Census, the number of full-time deputy heads in the primary sector has declined from 11,563 in 2017/18, to 10,729 in 2019/20. The number of part-time deputy heads during the same period has, however, increased from 1,062 to 1,236. Nevertheless, the size of the pool has not grown. This is despite the number of schools remaining almost constant during the same period, the total altering only from 17,191 to 17,178.

Assuming some 2,000 primary head teacher vacancies each year, with 25% being taken by existing head teacher changing schools, this would create a demand for 1,500 first time head teachers each year. Assuming ten per cent of the 12,000 deputy heads are too new in post to consider promotion and a further 10% are too old to be still interested in headship, the remaining 10,000 or so leaves a generous margin of possible applicants.

However, other considerations then come into play; type of school – infant, junior or primary; organisation – maintained or academy; religious affiliation or none – Church of England, Roman Catholic, Methodist, Jewish, Greek Orthodox; Sikh, Muslim; size of school – one form entry to four form entry or larger?

All these variables can affect the size of the possible pool of interested applicants. A further wrinkle is the time of year a vacancy is advertised. Historically, 50% of vacancies appear in the January to March period and are the easiest to fill as that is when the majority of applicants are job hunting. TeachVac has detailed information on how schools advertising for a head teacher fare, and how many have to re-advertise. Each year, a report is published in January.

We shall be watching the current trends with interest.