Education correspondents such as BBC Education Editor Branwen Jeffereys have recently been giving some ideas on how to alleviate England’s teacher shortage, perhaps the biggest problem for the Department of Education.
For a few years now young people have not been drawn into the profession of teaching. On top of that they are leaving the profession early; almost a third of new teachers who started in state schools since 2010 left their jobs within five years.
Recently this has been blamed on school funding cuts and teachers’ wages falling even further below that of professionals in other areas. According to Jeffereys, economists say that the 1% maximum on public sector pay rises should be reassessed and augmented to allow wages to catch up with the ever increasing cost of living. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have said that this is a possibility whereas the Conservatives show now sign of changing the cap.
Leeds Trinity University vice-chancellor Professor Margaret House and director of the Institute of Childhood Education Paul Dickinson take a slightly different stance in their report on the matter, claiming that the recruitment crisis is primarily due to the type of training that teachers are receiving before postulating over their careers. They suggest that the move towards teacher training in schools may increase the number of teachers, but that it threatens to damage the integrity of the profession by diminishing the quality of the teachers produced.
“The potential teacher recruitment crisis will only be solved by universities and schools working together to deliver teacher education.
“Recent moves towards a primarily schools-led model of teacher training risks damaging the large supply of high quality teachers needed to ensure every child receives the highest standard of education possible.”
Jeffereys also mentions this although does not speculate on any ways to overcome the teacher training model.
“More maths and physics lessons than five years ago are being taught by someone who hasn’t studied the subject beyond an A-level themselves.”
House and Dickinson discuss ‘Centres of Excellence’ which have been proposed by the government. They would like to see these institutions applying Masters-level pedagogical techniques in the form of ‘realistic clinical practice’ so that teachers are able to develop better critical thinking skills as well as ‘leadership, management, use of technology and multi-agency working’.
There is also the problem of the workload which is proving difficult for some teachers according to Rebecca Allen, director of the Education Datalab think-tank. Allen claims that there is real worry surrounding the mental health of teachers as they are not afforded consistent breaks and time to prepare for lessons which are basic rights for teachers in other countries. They are also ‘bogged down with paperwork’ leading many to walk out of their profession.
The Labour party’s policy makes a point of doing what is necessary to keep teachers in schools, but is considered by many to be unattainable. The Conservative government’s £4b education pledge is purportedly not enough to solve the recruitment crisis. The Shadow Secretary of State for Education Angela Rayner is ‘undoubtably’ positive that UK schools are reaching crisis point.