Schools in England are facing a drastic shortage of teachers with growing numbers of subjects being taught by a teacher without the relevant degree and larger class sizes.
Those are the fears raised by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) an independent think tank that says the issues over teacher recruitment have not been resolved.
As schools gear up for the return of students after the summer holidays, the EPI says the government should consider introducing targeted pay rises in a bid to reduce staffing shortages.
However, Damian Hinds, the Education Secretary, says his top priority is to recruit more teachers.
The EPI’s chairman is David laws, a former education minister, and he says there is a big challenge in recruiting teachers, especially for sciences and maths.
He explained: “It’s a worry that as little of half of maths teachers in GCSE have a sciences or maths degree.”
Unequal access among disadvantaged schools
He said there’s a worry too over unequal access among disadvantaged schools outside of the capital for subject qualified teachers.
One of the issues highlighted by the EPI is that the lack of teachers means there’s a declining teacher-pupil ratio.
In 2010, there were 15.5 pupils for every teacher, but this year it’s risen to 17 pupils to every teacher.
The study highlights that headteachers are struggling to recruit graduates who are opting for better paid careers outside of teaching and for those schools outside of London, there is a ‘wealth gap’ in accessing qualified staff.
The researchers found that in poor areas outside the capital, 17% of physics teachers have a relevant subject degree, compared with affluent areas where the figure is 52%.
Schools will struggle to find a teacher with a relevant degree
Among the areas described as geographical cold spots, where schools will struggle to find a teacher with a relevant degree to create a shortage in some subjects include Portsmouth, Newham, Hampshire, Barnsley and Doncaster.
Along with the south-east of England and London, areas that have high levels of teachers with a specialist subject degree are found in Bath, Rochdale, North East Somerset and Darlington.
The report says that cash incentives must be introduced to make teaching attractive to recruits since recruitment targets have been missed for five years.
The report refers to these cash payments as ‘salary supplements’ and says they should be aimed at subjects with teacher shortages and in areas where it’s difficult to recruit.
The report states: “There is evidence these pressures could be alleviated with the targeting of salary supplements and policymakers have started to consider this solution but the proposals, so far, have been modest and exclude many areas in need.”
‘Teachers are being paid less than colleagues’
The leader of the headteachers’ union ASCL, Geoff Barton, has rejected the calls to pay more in shortage subjects and explained: “It means teachers are being paid less than colleagues, despite having similarly demanding workloads.”
He added that the pay rise of 3.5% awarded to some school staff should be given to every teacher.
A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “There are more than 450,000 teachers in classrooms which is 11,900 more than there were in 2010 and growing numbers are returning to the profession.”
He added that the DfE recently announced a fully-funded pay rise for classroom teachers and the Department is working with unions and school leaders on a drive to boost the recruitment and retention of teachers as well as dealing with unnecessary workloads.