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NAHT recruitment survey shows growing problems in schools

School leaders in England and Wales are reporting increasing difficulties in recruiting teachers, the latest recruitment survey from NAHT shows.

Now in its second year, the NAHT annual recruitment survey shows the experiences of school leaders on the ground. The survey was completed by 2,135 school leaders in October and November this year, making it the most up to date and comprehensive view of school recruitment. The survey found that:

  • Overall a very high proportion (79%) of those who had advertised vacancies said recruitment was a problem.
  • For posts with a teaching and learning responsibility payment (TLR) and Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs), only 14% of respondents filled their vacancies with ease.
  • The main reason is the overall shortage of applicants (in 52% of cases)
  •  This year, respondents reported the growing problem of teachers leaving the profession in their area. This figure more than doubled over the last year, being cited by 33% of respondents, up from 15% in 2014.
  • In London and the South East over half of respondents said their recruitment difficulties were because of high housing and living costs (this was highest in inner London at 63%). Nationally this has risen from the 7th most common reason in 2014, to 4th in 2015.
  • The growing struggle to recruit means that nearly half of schools now use recruitment agencies to recruit their permanent roles, and 69% of those said that they do so as they have failed to recruit previously. This is adding to schools’ recruitment costs which average £3,000 per vacancy but can run up to £10,000.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, who will present these findings to MPs as part of his response to the Education Select Committee’s session on the supply of teachers today, said: “Schools rightly have autonomy over HR practices, but we should be able to expect the government to supply the basics for them to work within – funding, buildings and, of course, enough high quality people. The Education Committee today asks whether there is a crisis in the recruitment of teachers and school leaders; our evidence clearly shows that there is.

The volume of criticism deployed by successive governments is a serious deterrent to recruitment and retention, and the jump in the number of those reporting teachers leaving the profession is a concern. Teachers need to believe they can and do make a difference. 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.

"A positive culture is important but we cannot ignore pay and conditions either. Further pay cuts, following as they do many years of such cuts, will render the profession less attractive on entry to talented graduates as the economy improves. 

“As well as concern about the number of teachers, our research has shown that schools are struggling to recruit people with the right kind of skills. There needs to be more investment in the professional development of teachers, both at a school and at a national and regional level. NAHT supports the work of the DfE appointed expert group developing a standard for professional development as a first step to support schools to be more effective in arranging CPD.

“There is market failure in the development of senior leaders, especially head teachers, as the school that benefits from their professional development is often not the school that pays for it. This makes a strong case for some centralised funding of leadership development programmes.

“The recruitment crisis has created a growing role for teacher recruitment and supply agencies, adding cost and complexity to teacher recruitment for schools. NAHT will be working with agencies and schools to address the issues involved. The government should reconsider their recent decision to reduce the investment in primary sector initial teacher training and review their assumptions about the numbers of new primary teachers needed.”

Page Published: 08/12/2015

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Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media

01444 472886

07970 907730

David Boot
Press and Parliamentary Officer
01444 472483

07595 067060

Email:   pressoffice@naht.org.uk