School leaders union tells MPs ‘there is a teacher recruitment crisis’

Russell Hobby.  Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire
Russell Hobby. Photo: Chris Ison/PA Wire
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HEADTEACHERS will warn a parliamentary inquiry today that the country is facing a crisis in teacher recruitment as a new survey reveals almost four in five schools found it difficult to fill vacancies.

According to the National Association of Headteachers’s (NAHT) annual recruitment survey, 79 per cent of school leaders who advertised positions had a problem recruiting. More than 2,100 leaders took part.

The main reason - cited in just over half of cases - was a shortage of applicants. The findings will be presented to the Education Select Committee’s session on the supply of teachers today.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “The Education Committee today asks whether there is a crisis in the recruitment of teachers and school leaders; our evidence clearly shows that there is.”

The survey showed a doubling of the number of respondents who identified teachers leaving the profession in their area as a problem, from 15 per cent last year to 30 per cent this year.

The NAHT shows that 83 per cent of Yorkshire schools which took part faced difficulty when recruiting headteachers or principals. This was the second highest figure of any region nationally.

Figures from the NAHT for Yorkshire schools also show that 63 per cent had difficulty recruiting for teachers on the main pay scale (excluding newly qualified teachers) and 23 per cent failed to recruit. When appointing newly qualified teachers 67 per cent of Yorkshire schools faced difficulties and eight per cent failed to recruit.

However the picture was more positive when schools were recruiting deputy heads. The NAHT figures show 53 per cent faced difficulty and 16 per cent failed to recruit. Although this means two-thirds of schools struggled or failed to recruit it was better than almost anywhere else in England.

The NAHT found that to deal with the problems filling positions, schools have turned to recruitment agencies. Almost half of surveyed heads had done this, and over two thirds had used agencies because of a previous failure to find candidates.

Recruiting teachers was identified last week as a key issue for Yorkshire as a damning Ofsted report warned the region had less good schools than anywhere else in England. Ofsted’s regional director Nick Hudson told The Yorkshire Post that ensuring the region had a high quality supply of school leaders and new teachers was critical to raising standards in the classroom. Mr Hudson said it was focused leadership and great teaching that would make an impact rather than the structures of schools.

The number and quality of teachers in UK classrooms was at “an all-time high”, according to the Department for Education (DfE). A spokesman said: “We have over 1,000 more graduates training in secondary subjects - and record levels of trainees holding a first class degree. The vast majority of teachers stay in their roles for more than five years and more than half of those who qualified in 1996 were still in the profession 18 years later.”