COMMONS

School teacher shortages worsening, Committee report finds

21 February 2017

The shortage of teachers is a major challenge for the education sector in England, particularly in certain regions and subjects such as computing, physics and maths, says the Education Committee report.

Government lacks long-term plan of teacher recruitment

The Committee finds the Government lacks a long-term plan to address teacher shortages and consistently fails to meet teacher recruitment targets. Rising pupil numbers and recent changes to school accountability, such as the focus on English Baccalaureate (Ebacc) subjects are likely to make the situation worse, says the Committee.

More emphasis on teacher retention needed

The Committee urges the Government to place greater emphasis on retaining teachers and not just focus on the necessary task of recruiting new teachers. The Committee finds that a focus on retention could not only be more cost effective but also strengthen the pool of future leadership candidates by encouraging more teachers to stay in the profession.

The Committee's report covers a range of issues relating to teacher recruitment and retention, highlighting concerns over teacher workload, the status of teachers, shortcomings in the Department for Education's teacher supply data, and the ability of teachers to access training for their continuing professional development (CPD).

Chair's comment

Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

"The quality of education our children receive fundamentally relies on the quality of teachers in our schools. Schools are facing significant teacher shortages as a result of the Government consistently failing to meet recruitment targets. The Government must now put in place a long-term plan to tackle the problems of recruiting and retaining teachers and address issues, such as teacher workload and access to professional development, which can drive teachers away from the classroom and into alternative careers.

The Government needs to do more to encourage teachers to stay in the profession by raising the status of teachers, improving the opportunities for good quality training, and by doing all it can to help reduce teacher workload. Holding fire on major policy changes and allowing a longer lead-in for Government initiatives would allow schools time to focus on subject-specific professional development rather than being distracted by the demands of the latest Whitehall directive."

Tackling unmanageable workloads

The report recognises that unmanageable workloads are a key factor in teachers considering leaving the profession. The Committee calls on the Government and school leaders to do more to implement the recommendations of the Workload Challenge and to consider options such as 'capping' the number of hours teachers work outside of teaching time. Ofsted should also provide greater clarity of its requirements to schools, monitor teacher workload in its school inspections, and publish details of how consistency between inspectors is evaluated.

Raising the teaching profession standards

In order to raise the status of the teaching profession, and improve retention, the Committee believes teachers must be entitled to high-quality, relevant continuing professional development (CPD) throughout their careers. The Committee is clear that responsibility for improving CPD is shared between the Government, Ofsted, schools and teachers. The report recommends that training must include a focus on subject-specific knowledge and skills to allow teachers to continually develop their practice and to create future leaders. The Government should consider targeted funding and a central statement of annual entitlement for continuing professional development.

The College of Teaching needs to play an important role in this and teachers should use the opportunity of this new body to be fully involved in the development of high-quality CPD opportunities.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

More news on: Parliament, government and politics, Parliament, Education, Schools, Teachers, House of Commons news, Commons news, Committee news

Share this page