A new study by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) warns that England is struggling to find and keep enough teachers, recommending that salary supplements such as bonuses should be offered as incentives.
According to its analysis, teacher numbers have remained steady while the number of pupils has risen by 10 per cent since 2010, with teacher training applications down by five per cent.
Among the problems identified in the report is a wide variation across the country in the number of teachers of “high-priority” subjects such as maths, physics, chemistry, and languages who have relevant degrees.
It highlights two South Yorkshire boroughs, Doncaster and Barnsley, as having a rate of less than 40 per cent among teachers of Key Stage 4 students aged between 14 and 16, despite having a much higher rate in subjects seen as a lower priority.
Meanwhile, North Yorkshire is one of the areas where the proportion of teachers with relevant degrees is higher than 60 per cent for high-priority subjects and above 75 per cent for other subjects.
The study argues that there is “now a very strong body of evidence from the US that suggests modest salary supplements in maths and science subjects (around five per cent of gross salary) can be highly effective in reducing teacher attrition”.
“More generous bonuses (around 20,000-25,000 US dollars) have been found to be effective in incentivising existing teacher to move to high-poverty areas,” it adds.
“Schools in England already have the freedom to make such salary supplements, but have been rarely making use of them to date.”
The report also reveals that “exit rates” showing the numbers leaving the profession have also increased, particularly for those in the early stages of their career.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This report proves what our members have been saying for some time – that teacher recruitment is a pipeline leaking at both ends. The government is still failing to provide enough newly qualified teachers for our growing school population. But there is also a serious retention problem, with too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely.”
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The Education Secretary has been clear that there are no great schools without great teachers and his top priority is to make sure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession. There are still more than 450,000 teachers in our classrooms, 11,900 more than in 2010, and increasing numbers are returning to the profession.”
The two Yorkshire authorities identified in the report said they were taking steps to recruit more high quality teachers.
Coun Tim Cheetham of Barnsley council said the borough’s schools had been poorly funded for years “which makes it more difficult to recruit high-quality teachers and puts pressure on our schools to ensure class sizes and pupil-teacher ratios remain close to national averages”.
And Damian Allen of Doncaster council said it was “proactively promoting the area” through the national Get into Teaching campaign and raising awareness of The Teach First programme.