New survey shows teachers want to break recruitment crisis cycle


A study of 4,000 UK teachers shows that the debate around current teacher shortages may be self-perpetuating, with 31 per cent saying talk about a recruitment crisis made them feel more likely to leave the profession.

Teachers are, however, demanding a greater say in how to fix the crisis and want to play an active part in the debate about recruitment. Sixty-seven per cent said they would feel more optimistic if they were treated as partners in the debate, rather than objects of discussion.

Rob Grimshaw, CEO of TES Global, which carried out the research, said: “Teachers are putting their hands up to be more involved in fixing the current recruitment challenges and this offers a real opportunity for school leaders and policy makers.

"Highly-engaged teachers, if given an outlet for their ideas, could play a vital role in key areas such as attracting new entrants to the profession, encouraging other teachers to remain in the classroom, advising policy makers on how to retain teachers and helping stakeholders to understand the causes of the shortages.”

Latest data shows recruitment was slightly easier in autumn 2015 than in the previous year. Some regions saw a marked improvement. In Yorkshire and the Humber, the success rate rose by 17 index points after three years of continuous falls – and there were rises in London, South East England and the West Midlands.

However, below the headline finding, there are causes for concern. In all subjects except art and design and D&T, it is harder to recruit now than it was in 2012. In autumn 2015, the recruitment rate was 20 index points below the 2011 level, and some regions are having a particularly tough time.

The success rate for teacher recruitment in the East of England fell by 14 index points this year to its lowest-ever level, making the region the hardest place in England to recruit teachers. The East Midlands, North East, North West and South West also saw falls.

A leadership survey carried out in January 2016 found a sharp rise in school leaders’ levels of concern they would be understaffed next year. Most school leaders expect to be addressing these issues with falling budgets. Sixty-nine per cent of primary school leaders and 72 per cent of those at secondaries said their school’s funding was likely to decrease over the next three to four years.

Meanwhile, a Teacher Happiness Survey found just four per cent of teachers believed now was the best time to be a teacher. Most (85 per cent) said being a teacher was better in the past than it is today and 11 per cent said being a teacher would be better in future. And despite teaching having traditionally been seen as a stable and well-respected career path, only 16 per cent of teachers said they would now advise their own children to enter the profession.

This loss of confidence has prompted large numbers to think about leaving the classroom. The 17 per cent that said they don’t have any plans to leave the teaching profession were outnumbered by the 18 per cent that said they were certain to quit teaching within three years – and a further 11 per cent said they were seriously looking to leave the teaching profession. This suggests England could expect to lose more than a quarter of its teachers.

Most teachers would consider teaching abroad, with a minority (44 per cent) of respondents saying they expect their teaching career to always be in the UK. Just over five per cent said they were certain that they would be working as a teacher in another country in the next three years, and a further four per cent said they were seriously looking for a teaching job in another country. In London, teachers are more mobile still: eight per cent said they were certain to be teaching abroad in three years’ time.

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