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The reasoning behind the UK teacher shortage

Joe Wedgwood, marketing manager at Kayman Recruitment


Teacher shortages in England are still growing and according to official reports the government has missed its recruitment targets for the fourth consecutive year.


Skilled educators are undoubtedly every school’s best resource and it’s clear that a large number of them aren’t happy!


According to the National Audit Office, over half of head teachers with large proportions of disadvantaged pupils find it very difficult to keep hold of existing staff members and suffer high turnover rates. The study showed that approximately one third of head teachers from all other types of schools had similar feedback too.


Here are the top five reasons for the ‘teacher shortage’:


1) Schools are full to the brim


Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The good news is there are more teachers than there has ever been before. The bad news is there are also more students too. Schools must adhere to the legal cap of 30 pupils per class; so thousands of teachers will need to be hired across the entire country in order to ensure no pupil will suffer.


2) Graduates are looking elsewhere


Now the economy has started to recover the jobs market is once again becoming more lucrative and this is reflected in new graduates’ salaries. The Association of Graduate Recruiters report states that the average graduate starting salary has risen to £28,000. Unfortunately, the starting salary for teachers did not follow this trend. The study continues that secondary school teachers starting up will earn over £5,000 less at £22,244!


3) Not everyone likes change


The 2016 Budget was recently presented by Chancellor George Osborne and he confirmed that all UK state schools will become academies by 2020 - giving schools control over their finances and hiring. This has mixed reviews from the teaching community and could be a major reason for the ‘teacher shortage.’


4) Routes into teaching have gone through big changes


During his time as the Education Secretary, Michael Gove was responsible for some huge reforms in the education sector. One of the key areas that went through drastic changes was teacher training. Consequently, teacher-training is still in a period of transition. The ‘correct’ model has still not been found. This is reported to have a knock-on effect for both the retention and recruitment of trainee teachers.


5) The burden on teachers is becoming too great


Multiple surveys have shown that teachers are working longer hours, have more curriculum changes and are faced by more administrational tasks than ever. Teaching assistants (TAs) are now fearful of their jobs as they are facing reductions in numbers due to the budget tightening. 


The fear for many teachers is that the more the ‘recruitment crisis’ hits the education sector the greater the workload will be.

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