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NAHT respond to EPI report on teacher shortages

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “This report proves what our members have been saying for some time – that teacher recruitment is a pipeline leaking at both ends. The government is still failing to provide enough newly qualified teachers for our growing school population. But there is also a serious retention problem, with too many experienced teachers leaving prematurely.

“EPI highlight exit rates of up to 10% for teachers in secondary schools, with only 60% of teachers working in a state-funded school in England five years after they started training. And retention rates are just as bad for teachers later in their careers; the DfE’s own workforce data shows that nearly a third of school leaders appointed as new secondary heads in 2013 left by 2016.

“It’s not all about money but the fact is that teachers’ real average hourly pay has seen a substantial fall of 15% over the last decade. The government recently announced a 3.5% pay rise for main scale teachers, but this is a very small improvement after a 10-year slump, especially when viewed against inflation at 2.5%. And it only applies to 40% of teachers. It does nothing to help solve the retention problem for more senior teachers and leaders who are still faced with a real-terms pay cut.

“Teachers are graduates who have many career choices open to them. They go into teaching with passion, because they care and want to make a difference, but salaries have to be competitive with other graduate professions in order to attract and retain the best people.

“However, there isn’t a case for pay increases for teachers of particular subjects. Recruitment targets are regularly missed across all disciplines, and a differential approach to pay would not improve the morale or retention rates of existing teachers. And with budgets at breaking point schools do not have the resources to offer more attractive terms to certain teachers anyway, especially those schools where they are most needed.

“What is clear is that the government must urgently address workload levels in the profession, where teachers work an average of 54 hours a week and school leaders over 60, under the pressure of a punitive accountability system where one bad year of test results can destroy a career. NAHT believes that school accountability is at the heart of the teacher recruitment and retention crisis. It must be reformed if we are to ensure that the profession is attractive.

“Ultimately, the government has to ensure a workforce that can deliver the best education for all. This should be the focus of all our attention, to attract and retain teachers, pay them properly, treat them well and respect their need for a proper work-life balance.”

Press and Media contacts:

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

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

Email : press.office@naht.org.uk