Teacher shortages ‘detrimental’ to education as reliance on supply staff and non-specialists rises, heads warn

Teacher shortages 'detrimental' to education as reliance on supply staff and non-specialists rises, heads warn

Teacher shortages are having a “detrimental impact” on pupils’ education and seeing them increasingly taught by supply staff and non-specialists, hundreds of school leaders have warned.

More than four fifths (84 per cent) of respondents to a survey by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) have expressed fears about the impact on education in their schools. The union questioned almost 900 school leaders.

Seventy per cent admitted they were having to use more supply staff and 73 per cent said they had to ask teachers to teach subjects in which they are not specialists.

It comes after figures, released in December by the Labour Party, revealed the amount spent by schools on supply teachers had risen by 27 per cent in two years.

And, in October, MPs on the education select committee launched an investigation into teacher supply, amid increasing claims of a crisis – something schools minister Nick Gibb has denied.

The survey also follows reports by Schools Week that immigration reforms could mean teachers have to prove they earn £35,000 if they wish to settle in the UK for longer than six years. Headteachers have warned that this, combined with the potential of Britain leaving the EU, could have a negative impact on teacher numbers.

The ASCL survey results, which have prompted a call for action from the union’s interim general secretary Malcolm Trobe, pictured, also showed that nearly nine in 10 respondents had experienced difficulties in recruiting teachers, and almost 73 per cent said the situation was “worse” or “much worse” than 12 months ago.

Mr Trobe said: “While these staff often do a very good job in difficult circumstances, it is no substitute for having permanent teachers who are experts in their subjects.

“We are calling on the government to do more to promote and incentivise teaching as a career. We would be very happy to work with ministers on an action plan.”

A Department for Education spokesperson claimed it was investing “hundreds of millions” of pounds in teacher recruitment, offering bursaries and scholarships and backing schemes like Teach First and the National Teaching Service to boost numbers.

He said: “We are committed to raising the status of teaching and want to work with ASCL and the profession to make it an attractive career choice.”