A couple of years ago the recession enticed a significant number of people to seek ‘safer’ employment as a teacher. Coupled to the governments ‘Teach First’ programme designed to attract top flight graduates into a teaching career it could be assumed all was well. But now we have arrived at a crisis; over the past three years the number of trainee teacher recruits required to support our schools is falling significantly short of the target.
Headteachers countrywide are claiming a pending catastrophe. The recruitment gap amounts to a shortfall of seven per cent in primary schools and a nine per cent shortfall in secondary teachers. Of greater concern is the skill base of the recruits. Non-specialist teachers are handling key subject areas in maths and science. One Head cites the possibility of children in his school completing their entire secondary education without receiving a single maths lesson from a specialist.
The department of education are therefore turning their sights towards recruiting overseas teachers. Offering a £25k bursary as part of the package could influence some recruits but can their skills to be judged as well as the qualifications? A good teacher is worth their weight in gold compared to a highly qualified poor teacher.
There is also a danger of introducing pay gaps between the overseas recruit who will need an attractive package to make the move that may compare unfavourably with the indigenous teacher who has been fighting, along with the rest of the UK, to gain a cost of living increase.
A key target for the recruiters is Australia. A common language and similar syllabus is a huge benefit, but there may be a shock in the income levels. Australia is now an expensive place to live. Providing an attractive salary package may create a wave of unrest in both countries and cause yet more grief.