A website promoting the benefits of teaching in London has been launched by Sadiq Khan, as new research shows the capital is losing teachers faster than anywhere else in England.
Teach London, an online resource described as “a simple one-stop shop for people who want to become a teacher in London”, was launched today by the mayor’s office in response to the pressure on the capital’s schools.
New research commissioned by Khan and conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) shows teachers in the capital are leaving the profession at a the highest rate in the country, mainly due to high costs of housing and childcare, and the levels of responsibility put on teachers early in their careers because of a lack of suitably qualified staff.
Meanwhile pupil numbers in London continue to rise. In March, a report from the Greater London Authority found that London will require an additional 65,200 secondary places, equivalent to roughly 2,200 classes or 54 standard 1,200-place secondary schools, by 2027-28.
Khan said it is “absolutely vital that we attract and retain more brilliant teachers”.
“There is no doubt that real-terms cuts to school funding and subsequent financial difficulties are putting our schools under increasing pressure,” he said. “Ministers must rethink their decision on school funding and do more to mitigate the cost pressures London schools face.”
London’s teacher retention problem
The NFER found that London’s teachers are younger on average than in other cities, and the capital has a “steady net outflow” of teachers who move to teach elsewhere, particularly those in their thirties and forties.
At both primary and secondary level, London has more teachers between the ages of 25 and 29 and fewer teachers between the ages of 35 and 44 compared with other areas. Between 2010 and 2015, an average of 10.5 per cent of non-retiring teachers left teaching each year in London (around 4,000 teachers a year), compared with the national average of 7.5 per cent.
Twenty-eight per cent of London’s secondary schools have at least one vacancy or temporarily filled post (compared with 24 per cent nationally) as do 18 per cent of its primary schools (compared with eight per cent nationally).
Although the report acknowledges that teachers in their twenties are most likely to leave the professional nationally, so London’s low retention rate is partly explained by its young workforce, it also notes that London has a higher rate of teachers in their thirties leaving the profession than other areas.
NQTs who began their careers in London were also more likely to leave teaching than colleagues based elsewhere.
The main reason teachers leave London is the challenge of settling down and starting a family in London because of the cost of housing and childcare. Some leaders said teaching pressures are “amplified” in the capital, while others said teachers are given too much responsibility early in their careers and some raised a negative image of London schools portrayed in the media.
The report concludes that retaining more teachers in London should be a “key objective for policymakers and system leaders” and recommends a focus on lowering the cost of living, increasing teacher pay, increasing training subsidies and salaried training routes, introducing more flexible working and better support and professional development opportunities.