How bleak really is teacher recruitment and retention?
Post publication: for impartiality, I’ve added this conversation thread here to provide context on behalf of OfSTED.
For the third consecutive year, school leaders report that there is no improvement in teacher supply. A survey by NAHT shows that there is no improvement in the struggle to recruit … Decisive action is needed to deal with the on-going recruitment crisis, by making teaching a more attractive profession to join, and to stay in.
NAHT’s third annual recruitment survey – and not the government’s data – demonstrates the experiences of school leaders’ struggle to recruit teachers and senior leaders. I’ve been lucky enough to receive the research and I’m sharing some of the standout issues and have posed some of my own questions at the end of the post.
The picture is very bleak.
Please take a moment to read the key findings and then look through the dataset. In the foot of this post, you will find a few questions and solutions from me.
- For the third year in a row school leaders report a continuing problem with recruitment across all roles.
- Overall a very high proportion (79%) of posts were difficult to recruit to and respondents were unable to recruit at all to an average of 17% of posts.
- As we found in 2015, where schools were not able to recruit at all this was most commonly the case in relation to a position for more experienced staff including:
- Teacher on the upper pay scale (30%)
- Teaching roles with a teaching and learning responsibility payment (24%).
- Teaching roles with a special educational needs (SEN) allowance (20%)
- Members also responded on the struggle to recruit to school leadership roles: with schools that had vacancies struggling to recruit head teachers/principals in 69% of cases, deputy head/vice principal in 59% of cases and assistant heads in 58% of cases.
For the first time this year, the survey asked NAHT members to provide their OfSTED rating (table below) so that we could compare recruitment experiences across schools with different ratings. This indicates that schools with ‘requires improvement’ and ‘inadequate ‘judgements have a consistently greater struggle to recruit, despite their need to recruit good teachers to fill vacancies and drive school improvement.
Just look at how OfSTED judgements impact on recruitment for individual schools – with Requires Improvement and Inadequate:
Issues beyond school:
- Nationally, there has also been a large increase in the number of school leaders citing high housing and living costs.
- In London 60% respondents said their recruitment difficulties were attributable to high housing and living costs.
- A deeply worrying aspect was that the number of respondents who highlighted that budget pressures were to blame for their failure to recruit.
- Respondents are saying that the school funding crisis is preventing them from paying salaries that will attract or retain.
- A breakdown of the data again underlines that this is a nationwide problem, with some regional variations.
For the third year respondents reported in increasing numbers that recruitment difficulties were due to the number of teachers leaving the profession in their area. This continues to be the third highest reason cited as being behind their recruitment problems. This reflects other report findings, which suggest similar trends, including the DfE’s own data.
- There has been an increase in those reporting a difficulty with recruiting NQTs, increasing to 64% this year.
- The two most common reasons given for difficulty in recruiting NQTs is shortage and quality.
- Across all roles, for those that failed to recruit, supply agencies were the most common solution pursued in 70% of cases of unfilled roles, with significant cost implications.
- Nearly half of schools reported using recruitment agencies to recruit their permanent roles (44%)
Having mapped over 20 London-based supply agencies and their fees, the quality of applications is very poor – with weak applications and/or increasing numbers of overseas trained teachers – the supply market is beginning to dominate and determine the demands of the profession. In my opinion, now that Michael Gove’s performance related pay policy enables schools to determine their own pay structures, teachers may be held back on a specific pay scale to help manage dwindling budgets. Supply agencies can take advantage of this, often quoting extortionate 20% buy-out fees to place staff permanently into schools; they have the financial stronghold.
Here is the data from the NAHT survey 2016:
- Figure 1: Recruitment experience across all roles, in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- Table 2: Recruitment experience across all roles in 2016.
- Figure 3: Respondents reporting failing to recruit to a role in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
- Table 4: Respondents reporting struggling to recruit to a role in 2016, by last school inspection review.
- Image 5: Teachers on the main pay scale; excluding NQTs (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 6: Newly Qualified Teachers (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 7: Teaching role with TLR (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 8: Deputy head / vice principal (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 9: Teacher on the upper pay scale (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 10: Head teachers / Principals (recruitment difficulties).
- Image 11: Are NQTs prepared for working in schools?
Click to expand data.
So, I have a few questions to ask readers:
- Would the removal of OfSTED gradings help resolve teacher recruitment?
- What is OfSTED gradings were just: Good / Not Yet Good. Would this be better for all of us?
- If workload is to blame, how can the DfE put this under control to protect the longevity of the workforce?
- Is lower-quality applications fast-becoming the norm? I certainly see this in our recruitment process.
- How can we all manage supply agencies so they help the recruitment crisis?
- Disable OfSTED from gradings that focus on ‘outcomes’.
- Remove OfSTED gradings and replace with a peer-reviewed evaluation form containing ‘good’ or ‘not yet good’.
- Change teacher contact-ratios so that teachers have time to mark and plan during the school day.
- Reform OfSTED so that schools conduct self-reviews and hold each other to account. This may improve retention.
- Fund schools so that budgets can secure qualified teachers.
A suggestion: if we END the culture of OfSTED, teacher recruitment, retention and teacher well-being will START to self-regulate itself. (@TeacherToolkit)
You can download the full NAHT report here.