Teacher Supply – long term strategy needed

John Howson 1

As we move into the second year of our work at the Foundation for Education Development (FED) and following the launch of the FED National Education Consultation Report, we asked John Howson, Founder of TeachVac, to write a blog on workforce planning that accompany the two recent reports titled ‘TeachVac Annual Teacher Review 2022’ and ‘TeachVac Leadership Review 2022’. John suggests that ‘the government now needs to fund programmes that keep teachers in the profession and nurture them during career breaks. Is it time for a Teaching Czar?’ 

Teacher Supply – long term strategy needed

The long-term planning of teacher supply in England is once again in a ‘bit of a mess’. After renewed interest by graduates in teaching as a career at the start of the pandemic, there is now little chance that the government will hit its 2022 target for the number of secondary trainees required to meet the demand from schools in 2023 as modelled by DfE statisticians. 

2022 marks nearly a decade of missed training targets in subjects such as physics, business studies and design and technology across the country as a whole and for a wider range of subjects in much of southern England where the state sector is competing in the labour market with private schools and tutorial colleges for the services of teachers. In recent years, the new factor of a growing global market for teachers, fuelled to some extent by schools founded in England opening campuses overseas, has created new competition for the scarce resource that is secondary school teachers in some subjects. 

Any shortage of teachers affects the campaign to level up outcomes. Ever since I joined the teaching profession 50 years ago, schools in challenging circumstances and serving communities with high levels of deprivation have usually suffered the effects of teacher shortages more than schools where teaching is a delight and Ofsted awards good grades. 

So, if the problem isn’t new, and is well known, what are the solutions? Making teaching an attractive career starts with three basic requirements. These are pay; conditions and reputation. The last is the easiest to deal with: Ministers need to talk up teaching and recognise the work of classroom teachers and not just school leaders. A great deal of work was undertaken on conditions of service in the first decade of this century: now is the time to revisit and review that work. Finally, if new lawyers in London are starting with top firms at £150,000 a year, £35,000 or so to start in a challenging school in London may not look attractive to many graduates in key subjects: pay matters. 

The pandemic has also shown the value of technology and the balance between teachers and learning technology needs to be addressed. This may be the simplest way to pay teachers more. Finally, good employers recognise the need for professional development. The government now needs to fund programmes that keep teachers in the profession and nurture them during career breaks. Is it time for a Teaching Czar?


Thanks for signing up

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.