Schools Go Back Teachers Don’t

Opinion / September 9, 2017

As 8.56m children went  back to UK primary and secondary schools they were met with a 15% rise in teacher vacancies.

The number of teachers leaving the profession ( non retirees) rose to 34.9k last year. Vacancies has risen to 14k, a 24 % increase compared to 2015. The government, however,  claim there are more new teachers in schools than those who are leaving. Between 2015 and 2016 the total number of full time equivalent teachers rose from 456.9k to 457.3k.

There are now 4.62m children in 25k primary schools and 3.19m children in 6k secondary schools, giving a  combined total of 8.56m children in education. Comparing these totals in January 2015 with 2016 the number of children in school  has grown; there are 104.9k more children in primary schools and 8.7k more in secondary schools.

Most schools only filled 50 per cent of their vacancies with teachers with the right experience and expertise in the subject area. They were still left with 10 per cent of unfilled vacancies.

Many of the returning children face supply teachers drafted in at the last minute. The Association of School and College Leaders’ ( ASCL),  Jeff Barton said “Schools have moved heaven and Earth to put teachers in front of classes at the start of this academic year”. But the shortfall means a lot of supply teachers and /or larger class sizes.

The government is trying to rectify this shortfall in the recruitment of teachers by allocating £1.3bn in a recruitment drive to last until 2020. Maybe ASCL should be renamed the Association of School Leavers to give greater emphasis to these circumstances. How many teachers would prefer the teaching headcount was up to par and the £1.3bn be spent on teaching resources.

Eteach, the teaching recruitment website’s  Paul Howell said he never seen so many posts being advertised. Nervous kids, anxious parents, and school heads face the new term wondering if they will be able to cope with the term ahead. Increased class sizes will be the order of the day. Not the ideal solution for any child or teacher. The foundation of the learning process is the continuing presence of a good teacher, skilled in the subject matter as well as being able to maintain discipline in the classroom. These multi-skilled individuals are scarce. Many a teacher has fallen by the wayside, the result of an unruly, large class that absorbed 90 % of their time trying to control the class.

Teachers have lost the historic respect granted to them in past decades. Time now to pass some legislation that empowers teachers to command the respect they deserve as a means of educating children towards life as an adult. This could help them comprehend how they should also respect the police and nursing fraternity. An acceptance of this discipline would no doubt reduce the anxiety and pressure placed on teachers and reduce the numbers leaving whilst positively influencing the potential for new teachers to join the profession.



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