Executive Principal's Blog

Teachers of the future

20 June 2016

It is worth returning to the theme of teacher recruitment in light of the recent exchanges between the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Department for Education (DfE ). A couple of weeks ago the PAC reported that schools in much of the country are suffering from serious, and growing, teacher shortages. These have moved beyond the traditional shortage subjects of maths and science into most areas of the curriculum. The DfE questioned these findings, maintaining the line that the country is training more teachers than ever.  It is interesting however to note that training more teachers than ever will not necessarily be enough if still more are leaving the profession...

At Wren, we are in a generally advantageous position when it comes to teacher recruitment. We have brilliant students and staff, we are an outstanding school and our learning and working environment is excellent.  Yet we have still seen it become increasing more difficult to recruit teachers, with applicant numbers falling dramatically from where they were only a few years ago. The reasons for this are numerous and complex; some teacher training courses have disappeared, teaching is not an attractive profession for many and lots of new teachers leave the job after only a year or two. Whatever the reasons, recruitment difficulties continue to increase with the inevitable risks that schools recruit substandard staff or else have too many non specialist or supply teachers in the classroom.

Another major factor in the drain on teaching resources was highlighted in the press last week; a growing number of UK trained teachers are choosing to move overseas early in their careers. There are currently approximately 8000 schools worldwide teaching some version of a British curriculum. This number is predicted to double in the next decade.  In the same time period, the number of teachers required to work in these schools will also double, from 400,000 to 800,000. These are huge numbers.  The temptation of a career overseas for young teachers could well place severe additional burdens on schools here in the UK.

These are complicated issues. Schools such as ours are continuing to recruit by training our own teachers and being as innovative as we can in our recruitment strategies. Retaining teachers for longer becomes ever more important. The fact remains however that the scale of the teacher recruitment challenge means it cannot be tackled simply by schools being entrepreneurial.  Our country needs a radical rethink about the motivation for able young people to enter teaching and the rewards, both financial and in term of job satisfaction and esteem, which keep them there. We must continue to make this case as loudly and coherently as we can.

Posted at 14:29 on 20 Jun 2016