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Rose Tremlett
Interim head of press 
07545 354363

Tom Niblett
Press officer
07970 907730

Email: press.office@naht.org.uk 


NAHT comments on government figures showing number of ex-teachers signing up to return to schools to help Covid staffing issues

Commenting as the government releases data showing that 585 former teachers have expressed an interest or signed up to help schools as they struggle with staffing issues caused by Covid, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“It is great to see that a number of former teachers have been willing to offer their services to schools to help with the current staffing challenges caused by Covid. It is certainly helpful to have people with the right qualifications and recent, relevant experience to boost the number of supply teachers currently available to schools. Let’s hope that some of those who return to the classroom consider returning to teaching on a longer-term basis. 

“Unfortunately, the number of former teachers who have returned to classrooms is a drop in the ocean compared to the scale of the challenge faced.

“The latest government figures show that over 40,000 teachers were absent from the workforce in the first week of term. NAHT’s own survey data found considerable variation in absence rates, with a small but growing number of schools experiencing teacher staff absence rates of more than 20%. The government itself is planning for 25% staff absence rates this term.

“The numbers of returning teachers we have seen, whilst welcome, do not come close to solving that level of staff absence. Realistically, schools are still facing an exceptionally challenging time.

“Despite the tireless work of school leaders and their teams, and the immense good will of every teacher who has returned to help out, there is no escaping the fact that if a school has a quarter of its workforce off, that will have a significant impact on education.”

First published 12 January 2022