1.The quality of education in England depends on the quality of the teachers in our schools. Last year, the National Audit Office described it as being “key to the success of all the money spent on England’s schools”. The recruitment and retention of teachers is a major factor in the Department for Education’s (DfE) ambition to improve education for all pupils in England. However, schools consistently report workforce issues as being a challenge. Last year, the State of Education survey report by the Key, an information service for school leaders, showed that teacher recruitment and retention was one of the biggest expected challenges for 2016, second only to budget pressures.
2.The Government invests a large amount of public money into improving the status of the teaching profession, but there are still major challenges with teacher supply, some of which appear to be worsening. The topic has been examined by our predecessors, but problems persist. In this Parliament, we raised this issue with the previous Secretary of State, Rt Hon Nicky Morgan MP, in April 2016 who told us “[The Government] absolutely realise that there are challenges to recruitment in parts of the country in certain subjects. We have the largest number of teachers ever, but we need more”.
3.The Government published the White Paper Educational Excellence Everywhere in March 2016, which outlined a series of initiatives to tackle recruitment and retention. However, following a change of Government, it is as yet unclear what policies from the 2016 White Paper will be pursued by the new Secretary of State for Education appointed in July 2016.
4.During our inquiry, the National Audit Office (NAO) carried out a thorough review of teacher supply in England, Training New Teachers. It concluded that “the government needs to do more to demonstrate how new arrangements for training new teachers are improving the quality of teaching in classrooms”. The Public Accounts Committee subsequently carried out an inquiry and made a number of recommendations in respect of the Government’s long-term plan for teacher supply and the evidence base behind interventions. Both of these reports have greatly aided the progress of our own inquiry.
5.We recognise how committed teachers in England are to their profession and how dedicated they are to improving education. But we also appreciate that in recent years schools have had a lot of policy changes to manage and this has impacted on recruitment and retention. We make a number of recommendations in this report, which we hope will help to raise the status of the teaching profession to potential recruits and wider society.
6.Throughout the inquiry we have benefited from the expertise of our advisers on education, Professor Jo-Anne Baird and Professor Becky Francis, whose knowledge and guidance has proved invaluable.
7.Following the launch of the inquiry on 16 October 2015, we received 55 written submissions of evidence from a wide range of sources, including subject associations, universities, unions and individual schools. We also received written evidence from the DfE. We held a series of oral evidence sessions to hear from a range of experts and stakeholders. We also held a private seminar with representatives from interested organisations to develop the themes arising from the written evidence.
8.Our oral evidence sessions covered a number of different topics. The first focused on issues of recruitment, including regional and subject differences, and initial teacher training (ITT). In the second we heard from experts on the importance of subject-specific continuing professional development (CPD) and the DfE’s use of data. The third looked at teacher retention and workload, and we heard from the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb MP, for a second time. We are grateful to all our witnesses, who are listed at the end of the report.
1 National Audit Office, Training New Teachers, HC (2015–16) February 2016
2 The Key, , May 2016, p 5
3 Education Committee, Ninth Report of session 2010–12, , HC 1515-I
4 Oral evidence taken on 27 April 2016, , Q156
5 Department for Education, Educational excellence everywhere, , March 2016
6 National Audit Office, Training New Teachers, HC (2015–16) February 2016
7 Committee of Public Accounts, Third Report of Session 2016–17, , HC 73
8 Professor Francis, Director of UCL Institute of Education, declared interests as a Trustee of Impetus-PEF, as an Advisory Board Member of the Education Endowment Foundation, as a Member of Pan-London RSC Board, as a Governor of Hinchley Wood School, and as a Member of the Labour Party.
9 The first oral evidence session was held on 9th December 2015, the second was held on 8th June 2016, and the final session was held on 19 October 2016. We also held a private seminar on 20th January 2016.
20 February 2017