Education Committee launches new inquiry into teacher recruitment, training, and retention


The Education Committee recently launched a new inquiry into teacher recruitment, training and retention in state-funded English schools.

Schools face huge teacher shortages and in 2021 reported the highest number of vacancies since 2010. Despite a 5% increase in teachers in that period, recruitment has not kept pace with increasing pupil numbers. Recent figures show that the Government has been unable to meet its recruitment targets for trainee secondary teachers: having reached only 59% of the target for trainees recruited for Initial Teacher Training in the year 2022/23, down from 79% in 2021/22.

MPs will investigate the current situation of teacher retention and recruitment, the main factors leading to difficulties in the process and the impact it has on students. This includes assessing how well the current teacher training framework prepares new teachers, and how the English system compares internationally.

A 2022 report by the National Foundation for Educational Research shows that the teacher supply challenge is marked particularly by a lack of physics, chemistry and maths teachers. For physics, only 17% of the target to recruit 2,610 trainees was achieved, with only 444 new entrants. The Committee was recently told that at this current level of supply, it would be impossible to carry out the Prime Minister’s proposal of requiring pupils to study maths until 18.

To tackle this undersupply, the Department for Education announced financial incentives in 2022 for teachers such as the ‘levelling up’ premium with a focus on highest-priority STEM subjects. Retaining specialist teachers is a challenge when their skills and knowledge are highly sought after in other parts of the economy. The need to get the right balance between recruitment incentives, progression and underlying pay is essential to achieve the Department’s ambitions.

The inquiry will look at actions the Department has taken to address the challenges in recruitment and retention, including the impact of these financial incentives and the so-called Golden Thread reforms. The Committee will assess specific reforms aimed at retention, including the Early Career Framework, Workload Reduction Toolkit, investment in National Qualifications and provisions to support teacher’s mental health. There is concern that these policies have yet to make a significant difference to retention.

Other topics of interest will be how the problems with teacher recruitment, training and retention compare with other professions and sectors of the economy, and whether anything can be learned from those comparisons.

Education Committee Chair Robin Walker said: “The current teacher shortages in some subjects in state-funded schools make it more challenging for schools to provide high-quality education across the country. It is imperative that we take a comprehensive and nuanced look at the difficulties in recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. We must urgently identify solutions to ensure pupils receive consistent and quality teaching, and that teachers feel supported in their roles.

My colleagues and I will examine the current situation regarding recruitment and retention, as well as actions the Government has already taken. We will look at how challenges to recruitment, training and retention compare in other sectors of the economy, and how these impact demographic backgrounds differently. Taking the right approach to supporting teachers through their training and early careers, helping to reduce unnecessary workload, and investment in professional development are all vital to ensure schools can access the highly skilled and motivated workforce they need."

For more information visit: www.committees.parliament.uk/call-for-evidence/3081

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