Commenting as the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) publish a new report on the Teacher Labour Market in England, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “These figures do show an increase in teacher training applications thanks to Covid. But that apparent good news story should not be allowed to distract from the worrying longer-term implications of the experiences reported by school staff over the last year. There is a real risk that we will lose more experienced teachers and school leaders post-Covid than can possibly be replaced by new recruits.
“The findings of this report chime exactly with what we are hearing from our members. Before the crisis hit, it was widely acknowledged that teachers and school leaders’ working hours had reached unsustainable levels. During the pandemic, their working week has got longer still. The juggling act of teaching children remotely and in-person concurrently is giving way to the challenge of assessing and addressing the varied impact that lockdown has had on our nation's young. Over the last 12 months, school leaders have re-engineered schooling from the ground up, many times over, and expertly navigated the constant last-minute emergencies and major business planning challenges that the pandemic has brought. And all this whilst facing another real-terms pay cut.
“The current situation is unsustainable. School leaders are frustrated at Government and exhausted by Covid. Our own survey in Autumn 2020 found that nearly half of school leaders surveyed (47%) were considering leaving the profession sooner than originally planned, as a result of the pandemic. These experienced teachers and leaders cannot be replaced by the new people entering teacher training this year. Action must be taken to ensure a sufficient education workforce, improving conditions to retain both current staff and new recruits.
“We agree with many of NfER’s recommendations for change, including reducing teacher workload, supporting well-being, improving mentoring programmes, and making teacher and school leader pay competitive. School leadership is a demanding and important profession, and the government needs to make the case for a decades-long career in teaching.
“We particularly welcome the report’s recommendation that the School Teachers’ Review Body should be given a permanent remit to make independent recommendations on teacher pay, even when government considers that pay should be frozen. The constraints placed on the review Body by successive secretaries of state have led to a decade-long fall in the real value of teachers’ and leaders’ pay, and undermined the salary differential for leadership responsibility. The result has been a full blown teacher and leadership supply crisis.
“The STRB has repeatedly said that pay in the profession is uncompetitive, differentiated pay awards are likely to fail in their own terms, and that leadership responsibility must be properly remunerated. NAHT agrees. Our evidence to the STRB calls for a full review of the pay structure for teachers and leaders. An interim settlement over three years, that takes a strong step towards restoring the losses of the last decade, could provide the breathing space needed for the STRB to consult on a full review of the pay structure for the profession.”
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