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Move faster on the issues that damage recruitment and retention, says NAHT President

NAHT’s President, Andy Mellor will use his speech to the association’s Primary Conference in Birmingham today (Friday 23 November) to urge the government to slay the three-headed dragon of workload, accountability and insufficient funding which is turning a dream job into a nightmare for many school leaders and their teams.

Mr Mellor will say: “On a good day, teaching is the best job in the world. The trouble is, there are not enough good days. As a result, too few graduates are choosing teaching as a career and too many experienced professionals are leaving the profession prematurely.

“I became a teacher because I wanted to make a positive impact on young people’s lives. I became a leader so that I could help pupils besides the ones in my own classroom. The joy of teaching is still burning, but the current climate is much too cold, and only the government has the power to make the big changes needed to improve things.

“Nine out of ten primary and secondary schools are facing real terms funding cuts. An overhaul of the way Ofsted plans to inspect schools is being rushed through. And workload has never been higher, thanks to year after year of government changes. This is the three-headed dragon that is turning a dream job into a nightmare for many school leaders and their teams.”

The latest data obtained by NAHT from a survey of its own members shows that 77% of school leaders found recruitment a struggle last year, whilst 67% said members of their staff had left for reasons other than retirement.

For the first time, NAHT asked its members about solutions to the recruitment and retention crisis in schools. 75% said a ‘better work-life balance’, 63% said a ‘less punitive accountability system’. The top answer was ‘a real-terms increase in school funding’ which was cited by 82% of respondents.

The full report will be published in early 2019 but these interim findings support what other highly regarded education bodies have been reporting recently.

75% of respondents to a survey by the Education Support Partnership said they faced physical and mental health issues in the last two years because of their work – citing recent curriculum reforms, Ofsted and funding pressures as reasons. Recent research from UCL has found that teachers in England have the lowest job satisfaction rates of all English-speaking countries having experienced a big increase in paperwork and data entry. The OECD reports that starting salaries for teachers in England are lower than average, whilst teachers in England with 15 years’ experience have seen a 10% cut in their salaries.

In his speech on Friday, Mr Mellor will say: “All of these issues are too big for schools to fix on their own. We know from our conversations with the government that they are well aware of all these problems, and some progress is being made, especially on workload but now we have to move forward faster and with more purpose on accountability and funding.

“The Get Into Teaching TV advert is a lovely thing, and stirred many emotions in me when I saw it, but on its own, it won’t fix the leaky pipeline of recruitment and retention.

“The school funding crisis is something that school leaders cannot solve alone. We have done what we can by making savings, but now there’s nothing left to cut. Only new money from the Treasury is going to make a difference.

“The new Ofsted inspection framework, due in September 2019, is in real danger of causing chaos throughout the system. As we have recommended in our Improving School Accountability report, changes are necessary but Ofsted must pause rather than rush the framework through without properly involving schools in its design.

“Teaching is a wonderful job. Teachers are amazing and invaluable public servants. NAHT campaigns to improve schools for everyone. Our challenge to the government is to be more aware of how accountability, workload and funding pressures combine to form a barrier when it comes to recruitment and retention.”

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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