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The Perceived Teacher Recruitment Crises in England

There has been much discussion and concern recently about a perceived teacher recruitment crises striking in England. At the time of writing, a Parliamentary Select Committee is exploring the issue, and asking various ‘experts’ about why there is such a recruitment crises currently within the profession.

For teachers, the reasons can be stark, so we commissioned this infographic with ten possible reasons as to why there is a perceived recruitment crises within England. We explain our reasoning below and within the graphic, but would love to know if you think we have missed any other key reasons why there is a perceived crises in teacher recruitment. Perhaps teachers outside England can offer some insight as to how teacher recruitment (and retention) works in your country.

(Click image below to enlarge)


Here are some possible reasons for this perceived problem of the teacher recruitment crises:

  1. WORKLOAD – Despite ministers promising to act on this, the teaching profession has seen very little in the way of action in helping to relieve the constant workload pressures on teachers. This is widely reported, and if you were thinking about going into teaching, this inaction is enough to make you think twice.
  2. SCRUTINY – Ministers and inspection quangos have a lot to answer for here. Yes, the teaching profession is paid for from the public purse, and sensible accountability strategies need to be in place – after all, we all want the best for our pupils – but league tables, moving goal posts with inspection regimes, and data-driven judgements (often made before any inspector has set foot in the school) are enough to make a prospective teacher have nightmares. Practising teachers have nightmares, so they are not alone in this.
  3. SCHOOLS ON TV – Television documentaries in schools want to make story-lines to hook their audience in, and there is nothing more boring than focusing on polite, well-behaved children, of which are schools are packed with. Instead, the ‘interesting’ story-lines are focused on the more challenging behaviours seen in schools. The teachers on programmes show the fantastic profession in situ, and the remarkable skills and patience they have with their pupils. We’ll talk about pupil behaviour soon.
  4. THE COST OF ADVERTISING – We don’t see why schools should be paying thousands in an attempt to recruit teachers or leaders. Passive adverts are no good for people who are not looking for jobs, and social media is now becoming more popular with potential recruits for keeping up to date with new jobs. It also catches the eyes of people who didn’t particularly know they were looking for a job – now, they’re an interesting bunch. We accept we have a vested interest in saying this, but more and more schools and councils are realising this, and working with us to promote vacancies nationally at a fraction of the cost. The money saved? Well that can go on the education of the pupils. Isn’t that what it should all be about?
  5. BEHAVIOUR IN SCHOOLS – Is it really that bad? Well, yes, in some situations it does feel like a mine-field of hormones, attitude and complex personalities all trying to find their place in life. Do we need a tsar to tell teachers how to cope? Arguably not. Support and consistency from the school leadership wouldn’t go amiss though. Again, the media perception of this has a big role to play, and perhaps we should all take a look and celebrate the positives of our schools – that may well make those reluctant to enter the profession because of these ‘behaviour issue’ think again.
  6. SPREAD OF ITT PROVIDERS – This was mentioned in the recent Select Committee and is very relevant. The ‘crises’ often reported is not spread across the whole country. Unsurprisingly, with four significant traditional ITT providers, the North West of England doesn’t have as much of a recruitment crises, compared to areas in the South. Current schemes (including training schools) are being introduced to help fill this gap, but we do question the value of such placements – university learning does allow space to think about different areas of teaching, where school-placed learning cannot permit, due to the sheer busyness of the job.
  7. HOUSE PRICES & DEBT – Congratulations, you’ve qualified to be a teacher. Following on from number 6 (above) you have graduated from a college in the North West of England with (up to) £50,000 of student loan debt, and there is a fantastic opportunity to teach in the leafy suburbs of Berkshire! Oh! Have you seen the house prices down there? How can newly-qualified teachers even consider moving around the country when the debt and prices are stacked against them? Perhaps schools should consider in-house accommodation for such staff, to help them make a start – but in the 1800’s, didn’t we call them workhouses? What if the school wants to get rid of the staff because they are under-performing? There are simple answers to this problem, but would not expect to see the government take any action to support this!
  8. TEACHER BASHING – Everyone is an expert. Everyone (mainly) went to school, so they know the education system inside out! Those teachers get all those holidays, and have you seen how much money they actually get? The TV advert says (up to) £70,000! Most of us actually have quite a way to go to get to this magical £70,000 figure!
  9. FEARS OVER CHILD PROTECTION – Child protection is critical, and ensuring children are safe and can thrive is the responsibility for all of us in society. But what if you were to find yourself in a malicious claim against you – we are in a blame culture at the moment, and some cases are deemed to be malicious and such actions can ruin the lives of people. This is a real factor for people considering teaching as a profession. “What? You want to work with kids? After all that has gone on?”  You see – Scary! Also, since the General Teaching Council was abolished in England, there has been a four-fold increase in the number of teachers barred from the profession. It is quite right for those involved in any criminal activities, but the Teaching Agency, formed under Mr Gove, has taken the axe to an increasing number of careers of many teachers, who get caught up in the pressures of the job and accountability. There really is little way back for these individuals, and they leave many gaps in our schools.
  10. A LACK OF SUPPORT – This is not the case in a majority of schools, but teaching can be a lonely job professionally, and a perceived lack of support from government, parents, school leaders can all be disheartening. We all need to challenge the focus being too much on results – pupils are humans, not numbers, and too much depends on the end results. Teachers are not social workers, although many of the tasks done in school can sometime make you feel that this is the case.


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