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Recruitment and Retention situation reaching ‘critical state’

New data from National Foundation for Educational Research’s (NFER) annual labour market report shows that the education system is not meeting the teacher supply challenge. The report, which monitors the progress that education is making through measuring key indicators of supply and working conditions, shows that teacher supply is in a critical state. Some of the key indicators are:

  • Secondary ITT recruitment reached only half of its target in 2023/24 while leaving rates have returned to pre-pandemic levels
  • Primary ITT is set to reach only 83 per cent of target in 2023/24
  • ITT applications for 2024/25 show slight improvement in certain subjects, but not enough to meet its (reduced) targets
  • Working hours have increased significantly in 2022/23 with teachers working six hours more per week than similar graduates in a typical week with many saying pupil behaviour is driving higher workload
  • In 2023/24, real-terms pay growth for experienced teachers since 2010/11 was 15 percentage points lower than for average UK earnings
  • In 2022/23, 65 per cent of graduates reported they worked either fully remote or in a ‘hybrid’ arrangement
  • 44 per cent more teachers said they intended to leave teaching in 2022/23 than in 2021/22

The report highlights the increased flexibility of hybrid working in other professions and the increased workload as areas that are damaging recruitment and retention.

They have four recommendations:

  1. Government should set up an independent review focussing on how to reduce teachers’ workload related to behaviour management and pastoral care, which should consider the role of external support services, such as for special needs and mental health.
  2. Narrowing the gap between teacher pay growth and the wider labour market is key to supporting recruitment and retention. The 2024 pay award should therefore exceed the 3.1 per cent forecasted rise in earnings in the wider labour market and be fully-funded.
  3. Political parties should set out their plans to develop a long-term strategy for pay setting which reduces the gap in earnings growth with competing occupations, while ensuring that schools have sufficient funding to enact these pay increases without making cuts elsewhere.
  4. Political parties should consider introducing a Frontline Workers Pay Premium to compensate public sector workers for the lack of remote and hybrid working opportunities in their jobs compared to the wider graduate labour market. We estimate that this would represent a 1.8 per cent consolidated pay increase for teachers.

The above sits within the context of the availability of funding for National Professional Qualifications (NPQ) being reduced to only cover those in schools that are in the top half of the pupil premium funding table. NPQs for heads, SENCOs and leading primary maths will remain free but limited to 10,000 places. A DfE spokesperson said: “High-quality teaching has the greatest impact on children from disadvantaged backgrounds, which is why we are extending further funding to all NPQs for those teaching in schools with the highest proportion of pupils eligible for pupil premium.”