School vacancies up two-thirds on pre-pandemic 2019, data suggests

Figures shared with Schools Week show schools advertised more than 100,000 roles last year

Figures shared with Schools Week show schools advertised more than 100,000 roles last year

16 Jan 2023, 16:19

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Teacher vacancies grew by two thirds in 2022 on the last pre-Covid year, TeachVac data shows

The number of teacher and school leadership vacancies last year was two-thirds higher than in pre-pandemic 2019, new data suggests.

Figures shared by job website TeachVac today show 107,063 roles were advertised in 2022.

This marks a rise of 66 per cent from the last pre-pandemic year, when just 64,569 vacancies were advertised.

The data serves as further evidence of a deepening recruitment and retention crisis in the sector.

Last year the government missed its secondary trainee recruitment target for the ninth time in a decade, and also recruited fewer primary trainees than needed.

Leaders’ union ASCL described the latest figures as “deeply worrying”, but added that they did “not come as a surprise”.

According to TeachVac, last year’s vacancies total was the highest on record. In 2017, the earliest year for which data is available, just 38,591 vacancies were advertised.

It means vacancies on the website were nearly three times higher last year than they were six years ago.

‘Many schools will struggle’

John Howson, chair of TeachVac, described the 2022 total as “exceptionally high” and warned lower numbers of initial teacher training recruits could mean greater vacancies this year.

“There is no doubt that if vacancy levels are anything like a normal year, let alone like 2022, many schools will struggle to make an appointment in many curriculum areas in 2023, and especially for vacancies that arise for January 2024,” he said.

Figures published by the Department for Education (DfE) last month show it missed its target for recruiting new secondary teachers by 41 per cent in 2022.

The vast majority of roles – 93 per cent – advertised via TeachVac are for classroom teachers.

It comes as both the NAHT school leaders’ union and National Education Union prepare to announce the outcomes of ballots for industrial action over pay.

Unions have warned that the below-inflation pay rise offered to most teachers this year will exacerbate the recruitment and retention crisis.

ASCL’s general secretary Geoff Barton said: “As deeply worrying as these figures are, they do not come as a surprise.

“The recruitment and retention crisis has been a decade in the making. Real-terms pay cuts have eroded the value of salaries, and workload pressures caused by the underfunding of education have left staff having to do more work with fewer resources.”

He added that the government had “continually failed” to address the underlying causes of teacher shortages.

“Even now, faced with the threat of industrial action, the government still has not grasped the scale of the problem.”

Schools spend millions on supply cover

It also comes after Schools Week revealed the cost of current widespread teacher shortages across the sector.

In 2021-22, maintained schools spent a combined £662 million on supply cover, up more than a third year-on-year.

They also spent £171 per pupil on supply costs last year – a five-year high and up from £160 per head in 2019.

TeachVac’s annual review shows London and the South East bearing the brunt of overall vacancies.

The regions collectively made up 37 per cent of all primary and 43 per cent of all secondary vacancies across England last year.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the “number of teachers in the system remains high”. They pointed to data showing more than 465,000 teachers working in state-funded schools, up by 24,000 more than in 2010.

This is a rise of five per cent, compared to an 11 per cent rise in the number of pupils in the same period.

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