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How do we tackle the teacher shortage problem?

By Teach First, national education charity


Teacher recruitment concerns

It’s a challenging time for teacher recruitment. In March, the NFER warned  that teacher recruitment targets won’t be met this year across a range of secondary subjects.

For most schools this isn’t news. So, what more can be done to support teacher recruitment and retention?

At Teach First, we’re fighting to make our education system work for every child. We exist to support schools, like yours, training thousands of brilliant teachers, developing great leaders and helping pupils thrive. Here’s how we’re working alongside schools to tackle the teacher recruitment challenge.

National subject flexibility

Schools across the country are in desperate need of new teachers – especially in more isolated areas. This year, we’re recruiting high calibre trainee teachers across our subjects and phases, placing them nationwide in the schools where they’re needed most. These trainees are passionate about providing an excellent education for every pupil. Our teacher Training Programme (rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted) is founded on the latest research, designed to equip and empower trainees to teach effectively and inclusively from day one.

Consistent supply of primary and early years teachers

Despite recruitment challenges in secondary school subjects, interest remains high from prospective early years and primary teachers. We’ve got availability for trainees across most of the country, ready to start this September.

Expanding the talent search

We’re recruiting from a wider range of backgrounds, including career changers and those who come from disadvantaged communities. People who otherwise may not have considered teaching are being inspired to bring their unique skills and experience into schools. Of our 2020 cohort, 31% were experienced professionals, 47% were the first in their family to go to university, and 28% attended schools in low-income areas.

We all want to do better to increase diversity in the teaching workforce and ensure we aren’t missing out on talented teachers from underrepresented backgrounds – so schools truly reflect the communities they serve. We’ve embedded diversity throughout our recruitment strategy and we’re constantly reviewing where we can best champion diversity when recruiting and retaining teachers.

Retention through motivation and resilience

After three years our trainees are twice as likely to be teaching in low-income areas as those from other training routes. They go through a rigorous selection process and are academically capable. But, more than that, they’re passionate about our mission.

As Head of Curriculum and Virtual Learning for Elliot Foundation Academies Trust in London, Johanne Clifton explains:

These trainees aren’t just ambitious. They have an aspiration to do the best for our children. And they put that at the heart of everything they do. They’ve made an active decision to take on Teach First’s Training Programme. To me that shows they’ve got that commitment to make a real difference in their career and to improving those children’s life chances.

Reducing trainee workload

Resilience is key, but so is teacher wellbeing. We’ve changed the learning on our programme to reduce trainee workloads – with less formal learning to juggle alongside in-school work commitments, helping prevent burnout.

Matching the right schools with the right people

No two schools are the same. Neither are our trainees. Your school context, the difficulties your pupils face and the gaps in your team are all factors we consider when recruiting trainees. We’ll work in partnership to match your school with the strengths and subject expertise you need in a trainee.

Career-long support for teachers and leaders

Support for early career teachers extends beyond our Training Programme. They’ll have access to our range of leadership programmes, making them around seven times more likely to progress to senior leadership positions earlier in their career than those from other routes. Nearly one hundred of our former trainees are now headteachers, and over 2,250 are in middle or senior leadership. They’ll also benefit from the support of a wide variety of specialist networks. Perhaps that’s why over 60% of all trainees who trained to teach with us since 2003 are still teaching.

Teach First is committed to finding and training the best possible teachers and giving them the support they need to thrive. Work with us, and together we can make sure all pupils get the education they deserve.

Don’t just take our word for it: 94% of headteachers are satisfied with their school’s partnership with Teach First. Find out why at www.teachfirst.org.uk/schools

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