Schools struggle to find good staff from teachers to senior leaders, says study


Schools are still struggling to find good staff with many blaming the crisis on teacher shortages and funding pressures, according to a report.

For the third year running, headteachers are reporting problems with recruiting all types of school staff, from teachers to senior leaders, a National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) survey found.

In total, nearly eight in 10 (79%) of vacant posts were considered "difficult to recruit to", while more than one in six (17%) on average went unfilled.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said that despite three years of warnings, the Government is still failing in its responsibility to guarantee enough decent teachers are available to meet the needs of England's schools.

Ministers have previously insisted that teaching remains an attractive profession, with retention rates broadly stable for the last 20 years, but that the Government recognises some schools face recruitment challenges in a competitive economy.

The NAHT's third annual recruitment survey, which questioned more than 1,000 school leaders, found that more than half (57%) cited teacher shortages in their area as one of the key reasons they found it difficult to recruit staff - excluding newly qualified teachers (NQTs).

In addition, around 44% cited a lack of quality teachers in their area.

More than two-fifths (42%) said they struggled to fill posts due to the numbers of teachers leaving the profession - up nine percentage points on last year, when a third (33%) gave this as a key reason.

The survey also shows that an increasing numbers of school leaders cite budget pressures as a reason for problems with teacher recruitment, with more than a fifth (22%) saying this is a problem, compared with 9% two years ago in 2014.

High housing and living costs were also given as a barrier to teacher recruitment, with this a particular issue in London and the South East.

Seven in 10 (70%) of those surveyed said they had used supply teachers at a high cost to cover for teacher vacancies, while 41% said senior leaders had covered lessons.

The findings come amid continuing concerns about teacher shortages, especially in some key subjects such as physics.

Mr Hobby said the findings show that "poor retention exacerbates the recruitment challenge". 

"It shows how just how much damage is being done to the teaching profession," he said.

"Faced with long working hours, unmanageable workloads, weak training and low salaries, the profession is failing to keep talented staff.

"The Government must make the changes necessary to ensure a workforce that can deliver the best education for all.

"This should be the focus of all our attention, not the distraction of new structures. It's not rocket science: pay people properly and treat them well."

Government figures show that nearly a third of teachers who began work in England's state schools in 2010 were not in the classroom five years later.

Around 7,200 (30%) of the 24,100 newly qualified teachers who joined schools in November 2010 had left the profession by 2015, according to data published by schools minister Nick Gibb last month.

Around one in eight (13%) had left after just a year.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "The Government is investing more than £1.3 billion over this parliament to attract the brightest and best into teaching.

"There are more people entering the profession than leaving it but we recognise that in a competitive economy some schools can face recruitment challenges.

"We are also working with the sector to tackle issues that teachers tell us are most likely to lead to them consider leaving, such as unnecessary workload and poor pupil behaviour."