At the start of half-term, TeachVac has recorded record levels of vacancies for teachers in the first six full weeks of 2020, compared with vacancy levels or the same period in recent years. A proportion of the increase is no doubt down to the increase in pupil numbers that there will be this coming September. Although National Offer Day for admissions is still a few weeks away, I am sure that schools already have some idea of whether they will be full in Year 7 this autumn.
Indeed, I assume that new schools opening in September have received their Funding Agreement from the ESFA. If not, this is a policy issue the DfE might want to consider, since preventing such schools recruiting at the most opportune of times is not offering them the best start in life.
On the face of it, this is, therefore, going to be a tricky recruitment round f once again or schools seeking teachers. In part this reflects the lack of recruitment into training in some subjects, as well as the increase in pupil numbers. But, is there now a new factor in the equation?
What effect will the ‘coronavirus’ outbreak have on the labour market for teachers in England? Apart from the knock on consequences on the wider economy, and a possible economic slowdown that is always helpful for teacher recruitment, will the outbreak both deter some teachers from seeking overseas jobs, and encourage some of those overseas to return to the United Kingdom, and schools in England in particular? (As an aside, what, if anything, will the outbreak do for the flow of pupils and students from Asia into schools, colleges and universities in England this year?)
Now, it is too early to tell what the outcome might be of a change in attitude to teaching in Asia in general and China – including Hong Kong – in particular, and there are plenty of other parts of the globe where schools are keen to appoint teachers from England. However, even a small downturn in those seeking to work overseas and an upturn in ’returners’ will be a welcome outcome for the local labour market for teachers in England. It is indeed, ‘an ill-wind’.
TeachVac monitors activity on its site by geographical location on a regular basis. This is a somewhat imprecise methodology, since not all users reveal their geographic la location. However, the site has seen an upturn in activity from certain countries, when compared to this point last year. So, perhaps we might see more ‘returners’ this summer?