DfE on course to recruit less than half of required secondary teachers

Analysis of new government recruitment targets shows teacher supply is 'spiralling out of control'

Analysis of new government recruitment targets shows teacher supply is 'spiralling out of control'

27 Apr 2023, 11:54

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The DfE could miss its target for secondary teacher trainees by more than half this year

Teacher supply is “spiralling out of control”, an expert has said, as new analysis shows ministers are on track to recruit less than half of the required secondary school trainees next year.

Trainee teacher targets for 2023-24, published by the Department for Education (DfE) this morning, show ministers expect to need more recruits in subjects that are already struggling.

The government’s target for secondary recruits has risen by 26 per cent, rising from 20,945 last year to 26,360 for this September.

The DfE said this was to “counteract” the impacts of previous years of under recruitment.

Ministers missed last year’s targets in both primary and secondary, falling 40 per cent short in the latter.

According to the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), latest recruitment figures for April suggest the government is on course to meet just 47 per cent of its secondary teacher target.

NFER’s school workforce lead, Jack Worth, tweeted that this “all adds up to a supply situation that seems to be spiralling out of control”.

In a statement, he added: “DfE now expects to need more trainees than last year in subjects that are already struggling to recruit the required numbers, which will further compound the challenge of ensuring an adequate supply.

“Without an urgent policy response to make teaching more attractive, schools will face increasingly intense shortages over the next few years, which are likely to impact negatively on the quality of education.”

The target for primary trainees has fallen by 22 per cent – from 11,655 last year to 9,180 this year – as plunging pupil numbers start to hit.

The DfE said this was also due to “more favourable primary recruitment and retention forecasts” than last year.

Despite the drop, NFER predicts the government is still on course to miss the primary goal by 5 per cent.

Targets for most secondary subjects hiked

Targets for most secondary subjects have been substantially hiked this year, including for geography (by 57 per cent), maths (45 per cent) and music (68 per cent).

The only subjects which have seen targets reduced are classics, PE and history, which have historically over-recruited.

They are also the only subjects the NFER predicts will meet targets for teacher trainees this year.

NFER predictions of ITT recruits by subject for 2023-24

There are four months left of the current recruitment cycle.

At this stage last year, government had recruited 38 per cent of its target for secondary teachers.

Currently, just 30 per cent of the trainees needed for the next academic year have been recruited, analysis shows.

Projections are based on the number of current recruited trainees, as well successful applicants who deferred from last year and those with conditional offers.

DfE admits ‘significant challenges’ in recruiting new teachers

John Howson, director of job site TeachVac, said without an uptick in applications in the coming months, “this round is beginning to look as if the outcome will be grim for providers trying to fund courses with limited numbers of students, and for schools seeking teachers in September 2024 and January 2025”.

A spokesperson for the DfE said it recognised “there are significant challenges to recruit teachers especially in high-demand subjects”.

“The teacher training targets reflect the changing workforce needs in the sector”.

They added that bursaries and scholarships had been extended to address the issue.

But Geoff Barton, general secretary of leaders’ union ASCL, noted historic real-terms pay cuts, “insufficient” funding levels, workloads and an “anxiety-inducing” accountability system in the sector.

“These factors are driving teachers into other industries and putting off graduates from joining the profession. It is madness to think the recruitment crisis can be solved without meaningful changes being made in these areas,” he said.

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  1. Patrick Obikwu

    The signs have been there for many years. Constant denigration, blame, criticism, low pay, excessive workload, unruly and very disrespectful students, career stagnation, and bullying does not make it an attractive profession for new teachers. Something needs to be done urgently arrest the recruitment crises before it is too late.

    • Ajibola Fagebo

      Students being unruly and very disrespectful should be critically and speedily addressed because teachers are fleeing the profession en mass due to this reason, especially if n the secondary schools.
      Parents and the government should see to this.
      Teachers and the SLT should be given more authority to give more consequences that would deter these negative behaviours in the students who know that they can get away with any action of lawlessness in school.
      Also a parallel disciplinary department like education policing could be set up in schools to arrest this menace.

    • Anonymous Blackburn

      I walked out of a job last week as the secondary children were outrageously disrespectful – throwing paper aeroplanes, refusing to follow instructions, ignoring me whilst teaching, not sat in the right seating plan, back chat when asked to do something, taking photographs using mobile phones etc. It was a horrific and traumatising experience. I have never walked out of a supply role in 30 years. Teachers have zero power to exclude and suspend. The system is broken but I am not because I got out of it and will never do supply again.

  2. Martyn Jones

    The governments aproach to education is laughable. Teachers are held accountable for issues which are out of control, publicly blamed for systemic issues, vilified in the press, refused funded pay rises that are anything close to inflation whilst the government defends it stance through the assumption that teachers will stay in the proffession because they see it as a vocation. The reality is that if you dont pay people enough to take the job on, no one will do it.

  3. Tim Cumberland

    Leaving the profession after 34 years as ofsted focused leadership has forgotten time is finite so if we have to justify and account for everything we have done, do or will do there is little time to prepare and deliver. Priories need to shift before there is no one left to actually do the job let alone manage and inspect them.

  4. Jane Bell

    Teacher workload is a huge issue. The public are no longer being duped by the false media perception that teaching is easy. I have taught for 13 years and self published my book ‘Time Smart Teaching’ to show other teachers how I stopped taking all my work home. 5**** on Amazon. Dfe should give this book to all newly qualified teachers to help them reduce their workload. I post daily teacher tips on LinkedIn under Jane Bell.