The Education Secretary Damian Hinds is being urged to address the country’s teacher supply crisis as a matter of urgency, a letter published by several organisations reveals.
The call is led by the National Association for School-Based Teacher Trainers (NASBTT) who have issued a joint letter with other organisations including the Teaching Schools Council, the Chartered College of Teaching and the University’s Council for the Education of Teachers.
Not only do the groups share their concerns over the situation of teacher shortages but also offer recommendations help resolve it.
The organisations say they welcome measures that have already been taken to help address the teacher supply crisis including the removal of a cap on recruitment to ITT programmes.
They also welcome efforts to reduce teacher workload and the relaxation of skills test requirements. They also welcome the continuing payment of ITT bursaries and the introduction of retention incentives.
However, they say that these proposals need to be implemented with proper support and funding for teachers.
Principal reasons for the teacher supply crisis
The letter also outlined what they view as the principal reasons for the teacher supply crisis including the economic and poor perceptions that come with the cost of teacher training and worries about teacher workload.
They also highlight that trainee teachers have doubts about the profession’s status and issues over the recruitment demographic.
Among the suggestions that the government should be adding to the measures they’ve already undertaken includes the issue of funding.
The letter states that this is the second-year of teaching graduates completing their three-year degree programme but accumulating their annual tuition fees of £9,000 plus large maintenance loans.
The organisations say: “With few exceptions, even trainees receiving bursaries are expecting to accumulate more debt to become qualified or forego, at the very least, the opportunity of embarking on an alternative salary career.”
Potential teaching recruits being dissuaded from entering the profession
The organisations say they are receiving reports of potential teaching recruits being dissuaded from entering the profession by their parents who are pointing to the levels of debt they will accumulate and their entry level salary.
To resolve this, the letter states: “There should be consideration to waiving tuition fees for everyone on a postgraduate ITE programme. The funds for bursaries could be used to fund ITT directly as could the administrative savings.”
The organisations also call on the education secretary to enhance the status of teaching and help subsidise the membership of professional bodies and associations.
They also want the different routes into teaching to be simplified as the current situation appears to be unnecessarily confusing.
A big help for the recruitment of new teachers will be an improved application process, the letter states, along with replacing skills tests with an ongoing assessment of the teacher’s numeracy and literacy skills.
This last point, the organisations state, will help release £50 million for investment in CPD and helping pay membership fees while speeding up recruitment and removing a barrier to teaching.
The full letter from National Association for School-Based Teacher Trainers to Damian Hinds can be downloaded from their website.