Last month the National Audit Office warned that a quarter of a million extra school places would be needed in England by autumn 2014. REC Education identified the need for more teachers in 2012 as the school system struggles to cope with present levels of demand and faces up to even greater challenges in the coming years. In the next five years over 700,000 extra children are forecast to enter primary level education in the maintained sector – with an additional 150,000 pupils expected to join secondary schools. The Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg stated last week that an extra 15,000 teachers are needed by 2014-15 to meet this challenge.
Mr Twigg is right to warn that this poses a real and growing threat to standards in an education system under strain. The present government are making efforts in this area to attract more people into the profession and encourage individuals to return to the classroom. However, there is a long way to go and the raft of recent announcements from the teacher unions over their spring conference season are testament to increasing dissatisfaction in the profession about the scale and pace of reform in the sector. Our members report that growing numbers of teachers are leaving the classroom due to increased levels of bureaucracy and a dramatic deterioration in student behaviour. Indeed a recent survey conducted by the ATL found that 62% of respondents said there were more children with emotional, behavioural and mental health problems in schools than two years ago.
Dr John Dunn, Chair of REC Education, believes the growth in teachers leaving the profession is a trend set to continue: “More and more members are saying they just simply cannot find teachers to fill vacancies. This is not just in the normal areas of concern such as Mathematics and Physics, but in subjects such as English there is a real dearth of candidates in London and the South East.”
Set against this backdrop the government is set to introduce performance related pay into teaching. Will this stimulate talent and promote progression, attracting more people to the profession or merely foster unhealthy competition and sap already fragile levels of morale in our schools? The jury is out but what is clear is that urgent action is needed, and needed now to get more teachers into our classrooms as schools face up to the coming surge in the number of students.
Dr John Dunn concludes: “The last time the country experienced an acute teacher shortage our sector expanded massively. Specialist recruiters need to keep abreast of this pressing problem both from a business perspective and as part of their role in developing the school workforce.”
The next REC Education meeting in Birmingham on the 8th May will look at the government’s pay proposals in detail and assess what they could mean for the future development of the school workforce. We will be joined by a range of experts from educational organisations to look at pay and compliance in a changing educational environment, as well as what the government could do to attract more people into teaching.
You can reserve you place on the REC website.