The Association of School and College Leaders have conducted a survey of Headteachers and Principals of state sector schools and colleges in England between 22nd and 29th June. The survey was conducted from 766 responses, 88% of which were from secondary schools and the rest included primary, middle, special and alternative provision schools, FE and sixth form colleges and UTCs or studio schools.
95% of the respondents told ASCL that they were having difficulty in recruiting teachers. ASCL commented that the Department for Education had not met recruitment targets for trainee secondary teachers for the past few years bar a small improvement within the pandemic year 2020/2021. It is also noted that high volumes of teachers leave the profession early – ASCL referenced data from School Workforce in England 2021 which stated that 31% left within 5 years of qualifying and 40% within 10 years.
The Association of School and College Leaders continued to delve further into the difficulties that survey respondents were facing with teacher recruitment. Just over 90% of respondents said that they felt there was a low number of suitable applicants for posts. Additionally, just under 70% of respondents said they receive no applications at all for some posts. Are these jobs just not getting the exposure to be seen or is there a shortage of appropriately qualified teachers for these positions? 79% of survey respondents often had to re-advertise posts which means further administrative workloads, with time being taken away from other important duties and extra costs.
With recruitment difficulties, schools are having to deal with these in different ways. The ASCL survey uncovered the ways that school leaders are coping with having unfilled positions in education. 72.3% are using supply teachers to cover, however this can mean students and pupils are not settled in teaching and can feel uncertainty with a constant stream of supply staff instead of a constant subject specific teacher. Following on from this, 68.8% are using non-subject specialists to lead classes. This, alongside supply staff can work for the short term, however once this continues long term, the students’ teaching is comprised without a subject specialist teacher. 30.6% resorted to using large class sizes to accommodate for a lack of teaching staff. Again, this can have a negative effect on students and pupils with large classes sizes being harder to control, less one-to-one time with the teacher and an increased likelihood of bad behaviour from uncontrolled students. Finally, 19.6% responded with ‘other’, which concluded of:
- Using unqualified teachers and higher-level teaching assistants
- Increasing senior leadership teaching time
- Changing the curriculum and reducing subject choices
- Offering more money or responsibility
- Settling for staff with less-than-ideal qualifications or expertise
- Trying to recruit from overseas.
All these points can have a negative impact on staff and students. Staff can end up overworked, thrown ‘in the deep end’ with higher responsibilities than they are qualified for, and senior leadership teams are taken away from other work within the school. Students and pupils learning can be badly affected by a lack of quality teaching from underqualified staff and reduced subject choices. All these points are not a long-term solution to the teacher shortage crisis, however they are becoming more and more prominent with England’s schools.
The survey also highlighted which subjects schools found hardest to recruitment. The top 3 hardest were:
- Physics (61.4%)
- Maths (61%)
- Design and Technology (52.5%)
Teacher retention is also a huge issue in the education sector. The less teacher retention, the more recruitment required, a vicious cycle. About 65% of respondents have been having trouble with teacher retention. Issues included workload, pay and teachers reassessing their work/life balance post pandemic. The ACSL survey has included some insightful overall comments from respondents involved in the survey regarding teacher retention difficulties. Have a read of the survey here.
If you are feeling under a mountain of admin work for recruitment, FACE-Ed, our applicant tracking software, may be able to help. FACE-Ed streamlines and automates the recruitment process to take the load off administrative staff. Applications can be automatically screened for gaps and discrepancies in line with Safer Recruitment protocols. Recruitment teams and applicants can easily communicate regarding applications within the software, keeping conversions all in one place. FACE-Ed will send off for references and build anonymised shortlisting packs for the interview panel. Once an offer is made, FACE-Ed can also be linked with our holistic HR software SAMpeople for long-term employee monitoring.
If you are interested in seeing FACE-Ed in action, get in touch with our team who will arrange a software demo for you and have a chat regarding your specific requirements. We will also be more than happy to run through our HR software, SAMpeople if this is also something you are considering.