A variety of factors have contributed to the growing sense of crisis for schools in England struggling to retain and develop their teachers. Particularly worrying is that the number of secondary school teachers has been falling since 2010 and more teachers have been leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement since 2012. Many teachers have cited heavy workloads as a reason for their departure. At the same time pupil numbers are rising and the Department for Education (the Department) expects schools to make significant savings from using their staff more efficiently. The Department should have been able to foresee this situation and take action to address it.
By its own admission, the Department has given insufficient priority to teacher retention and development. It has got the balance wrong between training new teachers and supporting the existing workforce, with spending on the former 15 times greater than on the latter. The Department has a disparate collection of small-scale interventions but these are inadequate to address the underlying issues. In addition, the quality of teaching and the level of teaching vacancies vary significantly across the country. However, the Department does not seem to understand the reasons for the variation or the different challenges that schools in different regions face.
The failure of the Department to get to grips with the number of teachers leaving puts additional pressure on schools faced with rising numbers of children needing a school place and the teachers to teach them.
29 January 2018