Over the past few years I’ve repeatedly said, “We cannot recruit our way out of this crisis”. What is currently a significant problem for many schools, recruiting and retaining high quality teachers, is getting worse and will continue to do so. The problem is most acute at a secondary level.
The 1960s baby boomers who are reaching retirement over the next few years; one million more pupils to be educated in schools between 2015 and 2025 and too many people training then either not entering the profession at all or leaving in the first few years all add up to the proverbial perfect storm. We have limited control and influence over the first two; the focus should be on the latter. It’s great to see the National Audit Office publish a report today titled “Retaining and Developing the Teacher Workforce”. The infographic below is from their report and a PDF version is available here.
Here are a few “takeaways” that struck me on first reading:
- “The Department for Education considers that the quality of teaching is more important to pupil outcomes than anything else a school can control”. This makes the classroom the key structure in the whole school system so let’s stop messing about with academies, free schools and all the bureaucracy created by the so called school led system. Instead focus on what makes a difference to teachers, pupils and ultimately teaching and learning.
- Teacher numbers have increased in recent years with more teachers returning to state funded schools, this is good news, but no where near at the rate required to cope with the increasing pupil numbers.
- Workload is a major issue; the Education Select Committee’s Report identify Ofsted and the Department for Education as the major causes of this. Radically changing this is within the Government’s own gift; they need to make more radical changes now. Once this has been done school leaders will need to rapidly re-culture their schools or they will be the source of the problem.
- More teachers are craving a better work life balance and more flexible working arrangements; schools are pretty inflexible places. Pupils need teaching on set days, at certain times and this is a challenge that will need addressing.
- Collectively we are pants at the professional development of our own staff; we need to learn the lessons and implement them if this is to change. A good place to start is reading the evidence provided by the Teacher Development Trust’s Report.
- The Department for Education doesn’t know whether it is spending publicly money wisely on its various initiatives or wasting it; it needs to find out pretty soon what’s working.