9 key findings from the 2022 school workforce census

Record number of teachers quit, vacancies rocket and sickness soars – everything you need to know about the state of the school workforce

Record number of teachers quit, vacancies rocket and sickness soars – everything you need to know about the state of the school workforce

8 Jun 2023, 16:26

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School workforce data shows more teachers leaving the profession and sickness creeping up post-Covid

Record numbers of teachers leaving, vacancies up 50 per cent and soaring sickness rates are revealed in new workforce data which lays bare the sector’s recruitment and retention challenges.

Here’s what you need to know…

1. Record-high teachers, but WAY behind what’s needed …

Nearly 48,000 full-time equivalent teachers joined English schools this academic year, up by 4,000 since last year.

It means there are now 468,371 teachers in the workforce – 27,000 more than in 2010 and a record high

Education secretary Gillian Keegan said “in today’s competitive job market, it is fantastic to see so many people choosing a rewarding teaching career”.

But, and this is a *big* but, there has been an 11 per cent rise in pupil numbers during this time – meaning actually the teacher recruitment rate has fell well behind what’s needed.

The government has missed its secondary school teacher recruitment targets for nine of the past ten years.

2. … and there’s now record numbers quitting

The data shows 39,930 teachers (8.8 per cent of the sector) left state schools for reasons other than retirement last year, up 7,800 on the previous year (6.9 per cent).

This is the highest since the 2010-11 census. When you include those who retired or died, the overall number of leavers was 43,997 – meaning 9.7 per cent of the teaching workforce left last year.

However, the number of retirees fell to just 3,929 (0.9 per cent) last year, down from 5,237 (1.2 per cent) in 2021-22 and a high of 14,387 (3.4 per cent) in 2010-11.

It means the overall leaver rate for this year is the highest since 2017-18.

3. Retention falls across the board

Figures on retention also paint a bleak picture. Among new teachers, 12.8 per cent are now leaving a year after qualifying, compared to 12.5 per cent the year before.

The percentage leaving after two years grew from 17.3 to 19.9 per cent. Over a third of teachers now leave the profession within six years of qualifying.

Lib Dem education spokesperson Munira Wilson said the “alarming” figures showed “how badly the Conservatives are letting our children down”.

4. New teachers make up a smaller proportion of entrants

Newly-qualified teachers make up a smaller proportion of entrants this year – 45 per cent versus 50 per cent last year – reflecting recent falls in initial teacher training recruitment.

The pattern is the same for secondary schools, with the rate of newly-qualified new entrants dropping from 5.8 last year to 5.2 this year.

In primary schools however, the rate grew from 4.3 to 4.6 per cent.

The overall fall was reflected in the changing age of the teacher workforce. The percentage of those aged between 25 and 29 fell from 15.3 per cent last year to 14.7 per cent this year.

Those aged between 50 and 59 has experienced a slight increase, from 16.5 per cent last year to 17 per cent in 2022-23.

But in 2010-11 the figure was 22 per cent.

5. Teacher vacancies up 50 per cent

Vacancies are at the highest level since 2010. Across teaching and leadership roles, the number rose to 2,334 in 2022-23, compared with 1,564 the year before – a rise of 49 per cent.

This is also more than a 400 per cent increase on the level in 2010-11, when there were 452 vacancies.

Gaps now represent 5 per cent of all teaching posts, compared with 3 per cent last year and 1 per cent in 2010-11.

Teacher vacancies alone had grown even more, up 55 per cent from last year’s 1,368 to 2,120.

Unsurprisingly, the number of temporarily-filled posts across all grades also increased, from 2,247 last academic year to 3,308 in 2022-23.

This represented 5 per cent of all teacher roles, compared with 3 per cent the previous year.

6. *3.2m days* now missed because of sickness

The number of teachers’ working days missed because of sickness absence soared by 56 per cent in the wake of the pandemic.

More than 3.2 million working days were missed because of illness in the 2021-22 academic year, up from around 2 million pre-pandemic.

Overall, 67.5 per cent of teachers took sickness absence in the 2021-22 academic year, up from 54.1 per cent in 2018-19.

The average number of days taken by those who did take sick leave also increased, from 7.5 days in 2018-19 to 9.3 days in 2021-22.

The figures relate only to sickness absence and don’t include isolation or shielding due to Covid-19, or other reasons like maternity leave or career breaks.

7. Highest level of support staff ever

The number of teaching assistants has increased almost every year since 2010-11, from 221,500 to 281,100 (27 per cent).

Numbers of teaching assistants and other school support staff are now at the highest level since the 2010-11 workforce census.

This reflects both rises in pupil numbers and needs, with separate government data showing education, health and care plans (EHCPs) grew by 9 per cent in a year to this January.

However, the number of technicians has fallen by 3.7 per cent to 18,555 as of November 2022, despite demand “remaining high”.

Adverts for such roles were 46 per cent higher than levels seen in pre-pandemic 2018-19.

8. Teacher pay growth outstripped by heads

Last year, heads saw an average pay rise of 0.8 per cent compared to 1.4 per cent for teachers.

As of November 2022, the average classroom teacher’s salary was £40,251, – 1.9 per cent higher than a year prior. Meanwhile, heads’ average pay of £70,831 in November constituted a 2.4 per cent rise.

Government said individual decisions on pay for this year may not have been made by the point the census was taken.

It means some schools may have reported data reflecting the previous year.

9. Fewer lessons taken by specialists 

The data also shows a slight fall in the percentage of hours taught by a teacher with a relevant post A-level qualification in the subject.

The average percentage across all subjects in November was 75.7 per cent, compared with 76.6 per cent the previous year.

But the figure was 72.4 per cent in 2014-15, the earliest year the data goes back to.

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