A survey by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) in the United Kingdowm reveals that four in five school leaders are currently in a staffing crisis, with many schools paying large amounts to recruitment agencies to find qualified teachers.
Out of the 2,100 school leaders questioned, 79 percent said they had recruitment issues with more than half of headteachers naming staff shortage as the main reason. These schools pay teacher recruiting agencies on average £3,000 per vacancy, but the number often reaches £10,000, School Week says.
According to the NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby, many schools have trouble recruiting teachers with the right set of skills and experience. The Telegraph says that as much as six percent of the schools polled said they paid more than £7,000 for finding a teacher, and two schools paid over £10,000.
Many schools are also facing high turnover, with one in three school leaders saying schools suffer because a growing number of teachers choose to leave the profession. In 2014, 18 percent of school leaders reported turnover as a major problem in the same survey.
A Department for Education spokesperson commenting on the report said that most educators remain at their posts for more than five years. The DfE spokesperson added that most teachers who entered the profession in 1996 are still in education 18 years later.
The Mirror reports that the National Association of Headteachers warns that the staffing shortage is ongoing with the number of teachers leaving their posts having doubled since 2014. However, the Department for Education said that the number of teachers returning to the profession is continuously rising, with schools having “13,100 more full-time equivalent teachers than in 2010.” The Telegraph reports.
The ongoing crisis has given rise to a growing dependence on teacher supply and teacher recruitment agencies to fill in the posts. The high cost of housing in London and South East England, along with high living costs, have made the recruitment crisis more difficult, the NAHT report reveals. The fact that graduates today have career options other than teaching makes recruiting the right talent more difficult as well.
Commenting on the recruitment crisis in education, Hobby said the government has to re-engage teachers:
“Teachers need to believe they can and do make a difference.” He explained: “It is possible to be both proud of past achievements and ambitious for more: governments need to develop a better way of engaging with the profession for improvement.”
Hobby argued that the solution lies in investing more in teacher professional development both within schools and at a national and regional level. Hobby recommended that the government has to reconsider its recent decision to reduce the budget allocated to primary education teacher training.
He also called for leadership development training programs to help recruit competent senior school headteachers. At the moment, there’s substantial lack of qualified senior headteachers to run schools.
Hobby also stressed the importance of having the government re-examine previous assumptions regarding the actual number of new primary teachers schools need, TES.com reports.