Do you have problems recruiting teachers? The UK’s education system is struggling to recruit and keep teachers, particularly in areas which are viewed as “problem areas.” Typically, these were inner city areas, but now socially deprived areas are also considered to be “problem areas”. When teachers look for jobs, they tend not to want to teach in ‘deprived’ areas, and so schools face recruitment issues. Now that teachers have to meet the requirements of standardised tests they are under pressure to have their pupils perform well. This is all very well in some schools where attainment is high, but in other schools, pupils might make good progress over an academic year, but under-perform in the tests. Teachers wold prefer to teach in schools where pupils are well within the required attainment level. Teachers whose pay is performance-related are likely to suffer from low morale because the achievements of their pupils go largely unrecognised as they are social rather the academic.

One of the ways to combat this problem is to recognise that tests are not the be-all and end-all and that pupils should be congratulated on their achievements, both social and academic. Schools which value their pupils and staff are usually vibrant institutions and staff will want to stay rather then move on to a school in a ‘better’ area.

Teachers should be made to feel that their efforts are rewarded, and those who work in socially deprived areas should be paid more than other whose teaching load is less stressful. Income is important and teachers should receive a salary which reflects the efforts they put in to their teaching. If schools offered incentives, teachers might be more tempted to apply for jobs in what are considered ‘problem areas.’.

Class sizes should be more manageable and if they were smaller there would be fewer discipline problems. This in turn would make teaching less stressful.

A teacher’s workload can be excessive, as there is homework to be marked, as well as tests and so on. Teachers take on extra duties, whether they are paid for them or not. Teachers have to mark their students’ work in their own time, either at home or in the staffroom. They work, on average, more that forty hours a week. Of course, this workload should be reduced, but to do this there would need to be extra teachers, and there lies the problem.

Schools should consider the prospect of hiring more well-trained and qualified teaching assistants who could help ease teachers’ burdens.

Schools have difficulties in recruiting teachers for some subjects, notably for maths, English, science and languages. Not all maths graduates, for example, want to train as teachers, especially when they can earn more working in other professions.  Many teachers feel undervalued and leave the profession. Instead of the criticism aimed at them the government should be more supportive, then perhaps fewer teachers would give up teaching.

Advertising needs to develop. Schools should play up their advantages and produce recruitment material that puts a positive spin on their schools. Invite prospective teachers to visit the school and meet the existing staff, who can talk up the school. Head teachers should seek to recruit newly qualified teachers by inviting them to open days before they leave their teacher training institution.

There is, unfortunately, no foreseeable solution to the problem of teacher recruitment particularly in Secondary schools because the student population is increasing. However, an added effort to recruit good teachers should be made and a charm offensive conducted to attract them.

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