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Teacher shortage leads to year-round recruitment crisis

An investigation has revealed that crisis-hit schools are candidate-hunting all year round and sharing job hopefuls due to a ‘drastic’ shortage of teachers

A BBC investigation has revealed that crisis-hit schools are candidate-hunting all year round and sharing job hopefuls due to a ‘drastic’ shortage of teachers.

The average English secondary school has advertised 5.2 posts this year, figures compiled by TeachVac showed.

However, schools in some areas (including Luton and Milton Keynes) have advertised at more than twice the national average, with Milton Keynes averaging 11.6 posts this year.

The government insists teaching ‘remains a hugely popular profession’, with the highest figures joining since 2008. Yet head teachers argue that the number of new recruits is not keeping up with demand; sometimes, there are no applicants for vacancies.

The figures were collated for the first time this year by TeachVac, who surveyed 3,706 state and independent secondary schools about their vacancy advertisements since the start of 2015.

Of the 19,557 adverts placed, 3,406 were for science teachers, 2,988 were for maths teachers and 2,767 were for English teachers.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has warned pressures on teacher numbers are likely to increase, with the Office of National Statistics suggesting that by 2025 the school population is likely to grow by 10 percent.

Tony Draper, NAHT President, told the BBC: “The government needs to invest heavily in the recruitment of teachers.

‘There’s a drastic shortage; it is severe and it is only going to get worse if they don’t.

‘Teachers are leaving the profession because of workload and stress issues caused by government policies, but the biggest issue in this is that they haven’t recruited enough teachers in the first place.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “To help us continue to attract the best graduates into teaching, we are offering a range of bursaries and scholarships for 2016-17, worth up to £30,000 tax-free, in the core academic subjects that help children reach their potential – but we know that an unnecessary workload can detract from what matters most: teaching. We are working with the profession and education experts to take action on the issues teachers said caused the most bureaucracy, such as marking and lesson planning.”

Ian Tett, head teacher at Oakgrove School in Milton Keynes, told the BBC that schools in the area were sharing details of unsuccessful – but suitably qualified – applicants to try and fill vacancies.

“We are starting to advertise for next September’s positions three or four months earlier than we did a few years ago,” he said.

“We are having to be much more proactive and grown-up in our recruitment.”

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