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School improvement could be faster if the government prioritised teacher recruitment, says NAHT

Today, Ofsted’s Annual Report has highlighted teacher recruitment as a barrier to schools in England making further improvements.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT said: “We agree with Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw when he says that the first priority of the Department for Education is to make sure we have enough teachers. For too long the government has fallen short of its responsibility here, preferring to tinker with school structures instead.

“Just as school leaders up and down the country are held accountable for standards of teaching in their schools, the government should be accountable for getting the basics right, including recruitment. There are still too many vacancies in crucial STEM subjects at secondary, for example.

“Ofsted’s Annual Reports of recent years have pointed to steady improvement in the state sector, with more early years settings, primary, special and secondary schools rated good or outstanding every year. Many school leaders believe that improvements might have been quicker if the government had focussed on funding and recruitment instead of obsessing with changing the structure of the system. As a result, NAHT has concerns about the sustainability of the improvements we’ve seen in the difficult years ahead.

“A freeze on education funding means school budgets are being pushed beyond breaking point. Early indications from our 2016 survey of school budgets suggest that nearly three quarters of school leaders are making ‘significant’ cuts or dipping into reserves to stave off deficits.

“A quarter of all new teachers last only three years in the job, and nearly half of respondents to NAHT’s annual recruitment survey said this prevented them from filling vacancies in their schools.

“And Ofsted itself, if we're honest, has in the past developed an adversarial culture which has discouraged leadership in schools. Inconsistencies in inspection practise have led to over-compliance which has increased workload and bureaucracy. We are hopeful that this is now changing and look forward to supporting this journey to an inspection service that works for everyone."

Page Published: 01/12/2016

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