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Reverse the cuts to school budgets to solve the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, says NAHT

Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Whilst January may well be the most popular month for people to consider a career switch into teaching, the government is still falling short in its duty to guarantee enough teachers of a high enough standard to match the growing school population.”

Data from the National College for Teaching and Leadership said January 2016 saw the highest traffic to its ‘Get Into Teaching’ website. However, for the third consecutive year the NAHT recruitment survey showed that eight out of ten school leaders had difficulty with recruitment across all roles, from teachers to senior leaders.

Mr Hobby said: “NAHT is not convinced that the government has an adequate plan to guarantee the most basic requirement in education – enough teachers.”

Last month, the government scrapped the National Teaching Service because it was failing to deliver and in November there was a drop in the total number of new entrants to postgraduate Initial Teacher Training courses. NAHT’s latest recruitment data also showed that four in ten school leaders had seen recruitment problems exacerbated by a worryingly high proportion of teachers leaving the profession. It has also been reported that a quarter of all new teachers quit after just three years because of high workload and low pay.

The government’s own School Teacher Review Body has recommended that the teaching profession needs an increase ‘significantly higher’ than 1% to address recruitment problems. School leaders fear that cuts to the education budget will make this impossible.

Mr Hobby continued: “We are seeing the effects of the government’s cuts to education funding. Last month the National Audit Office reported that mainstream schools are expected to find £3 billion in savings by 2019-20. Schools cannot afford to pay salaries that can compete with other professions. Whilst teaching is an undeniably fantastic career choice, highly trained graduates know they can earn more elsewhere.

“School budgets are being pushed beyond breaking pointwith seven out of ten NAHT members reporting that their budgets will be untenable by 2020.

“The answer to the recruitment crisis is staring the government in the face: we need a nationally coordinated approach to fill every vacancy with a high quality professional, and attractive terms and conditions to keep teachers in the profession for longer. The solution starts with reversing the £3bn of cuts that schools face and by using the new National Funding Formula to guarantee that the total education budget is sufficient before it is allocated to schools. Anything less would be a failure to give children a fair start in life.”

First published 11 January 2018