Schools are being forced to spend “extortionate” amounts on re-advertising jobs that have not been filled the first time round – as the teacher shortage crisis takes its toll, figures obtained by the Labour Party have revealed.
New figures released under the Freedom of Information (FOI) act to former shadow education secretary Lucy Powell reveal that last year, a sample of 123 secondary schools spent more than £56 million on advertising for teaching positions – a 61 per cent rise on what they paid in 2010.
Based on the average salary, this is equivalent to more than 600 teachers a year, and some schools are now spending up to £80,000 a year on advertising for teachers, Labour’s analysis found.
Of the £56 million, almost 10 per cent was spent on re-advertising for positions that were not filled following the first advertisement – more than doubling over the past five years.
Powell warns that the rising spend on trying to find staff to plug teaching vacancies is “compounding the strain school budgets are under”.
The findings come after Schools Week revealed in July last year that “predatory” recruitment agencies were being blamed for fuelling the teacher recruitment crisis by “hoovering up” job seekers to offer to struggling schools for tens of thousands of pounds.
Schools Week had learnt of three schools that failed to get any response to advertisements for teaching posts – then were offered a candidate from a recruitment agency for a finder’s fee.
One school revealed that it had paid an agency around £12,000 for one teacher.
It was also revealed last December that the amount schools are spending on supply teachers rocketed by 27 per cent in two years.
According to school spending data, the total amount spent by schools on supply staff rose from £1.07bn in 2012/13, to £1.29bn in 2013/14, an increase of more than £276m.
The new figures released by Powell today also show there are currently more than 5,300 vacancies in English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects in secondary schools.
It comes after research group Education Datalab estimated that nearly 3,500 extra language teachers were needed to be found to meet the government’s demand that modern foreign languages are included in the EBacc.
Powell will reveal the figures to an audience of more than 4,000 educationalists at the Teach First Impact Conference in Leeds’ First Direct Arena later today.
She will use her speech to call on new education secretary Justine Greening to put tackling the teacher shortage crisis at the top of her in-tray.
Powell said: “The teacher shortage crisis is one of the biggest issues facing our schools yet the Tories are fixated now on increasing the number of grammar schools. If Justine Greening really cares about social mobility she’ll ditch this terrible idea.
“Justine Greening must turn the page on the Tories’ education policy and focus on what improves standards, excellent teachers, in the classroom with the right skills and support to deliver for children.
“Our children and schools are paying a significant price for the Tories’ teacher shortage crisis.
“Ministers have spent the last six years constantly doing down the teaching profession, causing record numbers of staff to quit, and botching recruitment, missing their targets for four years in a row.
“Justine Greening now has an opportunity to hit the reset button and turbo-charge plans to recruit and retain enough teachers.”
This is not the first time the Department for Education (DfE) has come under fire for not doing enough to train new teachers.
A report published by the National Audit Office in February criticised the department for failing to hit teacher recruitment target for four years running, with 14 out of 17 secondary subjects facing unfilled training places last year.
The report revealed the number of teacher vacancies has risen from 350 (0.1 per cent of the workforce) in 2011, to 3,210 (0.9 per cent) in 2014.
And almost four in five school leaders have reported a problem with recruitment, according to a survey by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) last December.
The survey of 2,135 school leaders also revealed some schools are spending up to £10,000 per vacancy on agency fees to plug shortages.
A government spokesperson said: “The number of teachers in our schools is at an all-time high – 15,000 more since 2010 – but we recognise there are challenges.
“That’s why we are investing millions of pounds to attract the best and the brightest into the profession, helping schools to advertise vacancies more easily and expanding Teach First to get more top graduates teaching in some of the most challenging parts of the country. ?
“By supporting schools to recruit and retain the high quality teachers they need we will ensure every child has an equal opportunity to reach their full potential.”