Classes Increase in Size as Crisis in Teacher Recruitment Looms

Leo Rolf

Posted 13/06/2019
by Leo Rolf

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Classes Increase in Size as Crisis in Teacher Recruitment Looms

Teaching is seen by some as a vocation rather than an occupation. However, recent statistics indicate fewer people are applying to take part in teacher training. Figures in a report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) reveal a 5% drop in people applying to become teachers in 2018 compared with the previous year. In stark contrast, the same report revealed that the percentage of people leaving the profession has risen between 2011-17. A one per-cent increase was seen for both primary and secondary school teachers.  

A troubling ratio between teachers and pupils

The statistics on teacher numbers alone make for worrying reading. However, recent years have also seen pupil numbers increasing by around 10%. So, even with the same number of teachers in the profession, there is an immediate shortfall in teachers to consider. It is estimated that around 47,000 additional secondary school teachers will be needed throughout England in the next five years. This is a huge ask and one that is unlikely to be met. This would result in far larger class sizes throughout secondary schools. The picture isn’t much rosier for primary schools either. Here, a further 8,000 teaches will need to join the profession in the next five years to maintain current class sizes.  

Satisfaction and retention rates are far from ideal

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The same analysis from the EPI revealed that of those teachers starting their careers in state-funded schools, just 60% will still be in the role five years later. The figure drops further still when focusing only on those teaching the most important subjects such as maths. In this case, the retention rate falls to around 50%.  

Exploring the challenges of teacher recruitment

When recruiting to fill a teaching role of any kind, it is vital to make sure you find the right people for the job. There is no guarantee someone will remain in their post for years to come. However, with poor retention rates across the profession, it would seem wise for recruiters to do everything they can to find and retain the best people for the post. The report from EPI does not go into detail about the reasons why people leave the profession. It does, however, highlight the importance of teacher quality. The better the teacher, the more likely it is their pupils will do well and excel in later life. Tailoring the teacher recruitment process to ensure the best teachers are found and employed is therefore preferable. Selecting the best recruits to start with will increase the chance of keeping them, as they will most closely match the requirements for the role. Hiring the wrong person in any business can cost an average of over £8,000. As we have seen from the above figures, resignations from teachers arguably have an even bigger cost in the long run. Personality profiling, skills tests and situational judgment tests all combine to help recruiters find the right people, regardless of the subject to be taught. In teaching, where the challenges seem to be increasing all the time, matching the applicants to the available posts must surely be even more important than ever before.

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