Scouting for teachers: DfE’s latest recruitment plan revealed

Scouts will develop 'teaching skills' as part of attaining their badges under a new government scheme to boost teaching pipeline

Scouts will develop 'teaching skills' as part of attaining their badges under a new government scheme to boost teaching pipeline

Image: House of Lords 2013/Roger Harris

Scouts will develop “teaching skills” as part of attaining their badges under a new government scheme to boost flagging recruitment by “inspiring the next generation of teachers”.

The Scout Association has won a contract worth up to £129,000 over three years to provide 40,000 ‘explorers’ – those aged 14 to 18-years-old – with the “skills and knowledge they need to consider pursuing a career in teaching”. 

The Department for Education will work with the Scouts to “create age-appropriate activities that inspire young people to consider a career in teaching by linking to relevant badges and awards”.

The department clarified there are currently no plans for a teaching badge.

The contact will also include engaging with the organisation’s 120,000 adult volunteers to “raise awareness of teaching as a potential career choice”.

‘Elevate teaching status’

The policy is part of the department’s Get into Teaching “candidate pipeline strategy” which aims to “elevate the status” of the profession and “drive motivation and relevancy for new audiences who have not yet considered it as a career”.

Secondary school teacher recruitment targets have been missed for ten of the past 11 years. Just 50 per cent of the required secondary teachers were recruited last year.

James Noble-Rogers, executive director of the Universities Council for the Education of Teachers, said it “seems rather bizarre to invest public funds in niche projects like this, which are unlikely to have any real impact”.

While at the same time, DfE has cut funding for “tried and tested” schemes such as subject knowledge enhancement and international relocation grants, he added.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said “pricey advertising campaigns and paid partnerships” cannot “gloss over” the factors hampering recruitment, such as “unsustainable workload” and “poor pay”.

He called on government to “make teaching a competitive career in the graduate marketplace by improving pay, terms, and conditions”.

But a DfE spokesperson said the Scouts scheme will “raise awareness of teaching as a potential career choice for young people, helping to build a pipeline of future candidates for Initial Teacher Training.”

“Values such as leadership, teamwork and citizenship, which are key to nurturing high-quality teachers, directly tie into the Scout’s mission to support young people in their personal development and help them make a positive contribution to society.”

Badges ‘linked’ to recruitment aims

Launching in September, the scheme pledges the “creation of hands-on, fun, and engaging activities based around developing teaching skills, whilst contributing to the existing Scouting programme”. 

The Scouts will create four branded activities aimed at Explorers for each year. This will link “badges and higher awards to the ambitions of the Get into Teaching Service”.

Key skills developed through scouting include leadership, confidence, teamwork and resilience, which are all “attributes that make a good teacher”, the contract states. 

The plan is to reach 40,000 youngsters.

Meanwhile, “potential careers changers” will also be reached through “weekly face-to-face activities” focused on issues such as citizenship and employability. 

This will also include “specific messaging” from the DfE to be shared in monthly emails to the Scouts’ 126,000 adult volunteers.

The Scouts will also create support and guidance materials for those running the programme and “aim to improve the consideration and understanding of teaching careers and transferable skills within their networks through audience surveys and tracking”.

It will also share social media posts about the partnership and a blog which DfE said could include a “case study of a young leader who is also a teacher”.

The initial one-year contract is worth a maximum of £43,000, but can be extended for up to a further two years subject to “budget availability”.

A Scouts spokesperson said is “thrilled” to be involved, adding: “We will help Scouts recognise how the skills acquired in Scouts can serve as pathways to a teaching career.”

Push to boost teacher ‘pipeline’

As well as boosting applicants, the Get into Teaching “pipeline strategy” aims to raise awareness of how to apply to become a teacher and “engagement” with its teacher adviser service.

The “current priority is to promote teaching through partnerships to a younger audience, with a focus on new science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) and modern foreign languages (MFL) partners to drive interest where recruitment is most challenging”.

Latest estimates suggest just a quarter of the required physics teachers will be recruited this year. For MFL, around half of the teachers needed are expected to be recruited.

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  1. Maggie Fidler

    I find it hilarious regarding encouraging our scouting volunteers to consider a career change into teaching. I am a qualified Physics teacher. After 15 years I left teaching for very simple reasons:
    – poor pay with no progression unless I left the classroom
    – unable to afford a family holiday
    – horrific expectations on my time including being told not to attend my kids parents evenings, sports day, Christmas events etc
    – destruction on my mental and physical health

    The above were leading me to a breakdown, alongside a likely divorce.

    I left teaching into a job to a company committed to making a difference in teacher workload. I joined scouting because I wanted to keep working with young people. 6 years in and it’s still fantastic. I will run these new activities for my explorers, but I won’t lie about the destructive effects teaching has on personal families.

    The best decision I ever made for myself was leaving teacher, but the 2nd was becoming a teacher in the first place. I adored it. I would still adore to go back, but not until workload and pay is sorted out.

    • This is ridiculous – all this money will be wasted.

      By not addressing the root cause of the recruitment and retention crisis (pay and workload), any of these disillusioned young leaders that do go on to complete teacher training will eventually just become the next generation of former teachers.

      • Geeperz

        I am doing my best to dissuade anyone going into teaching based on my personal experience of 27 years. I have wished, every year for the last ten years, that surely things would get better but I ran out of energy and overdosed on stress. I realised there was no one coming to save education. I could only save myself. I’m out, but feel so sorry I couldn’t take my staff with me. As for the children. God help them.

  2. Tired Teacher

    This is absolutely ridiculous! That money could have been used to fund more teachers. The school system is so broken here and needs fixing however for this to happen someone needs to admit it’s broken! Lack of funding, promotion and pay opportunities linked with awful behavior from students and parents as well as unsustainable workload and expectations is what is driving people away from the profession so no wander no one wants to train. I dread my own children going to secondary school as schools are in such a state.

    • Sophie Hansen

      I am a teacher. I left mainstream as I was an older teacher and primary schools only want cheap young teachers. I now work in the private sector in a special needs school where I can pursue my love of the outdoors and teach Forest school and continue with being a Cub leader as a volunteer. I get paid considerably less but have time during the evening and weekends to live the rest of my life .

    • Ex teacher

      2 years ago I quit teaching (after nearly 20 years) to spend more time with my kids. My scout group had lost their leaders and I wanted my kids to stay in scouting so I became a lead volunteer. The thought of my own children becoming teachers fills me with dread because of the mental stress the profession feeds. Scouting faces the same issues as teaching, under valued people doing a job with little support, and everyone happy to criticise. Parents expect teachers and to some extent scout leaders to make their children into Amazing young people, and quickly blame us for any shortfall. I have met many young people and many of them have been amazing but not because of anything I do. A young person needs everyone in their life to support and champion them, we should work together and not look for others to be fixers. Building respect and appreciation for our scout leaders and teachers is how to attract new people, no-one wants to do a job which they don’t feel valued in and that comes from the pay and the value we give to teachers. If we are expecting kids to go into debt to get a degree and then go into teaching let’s help them with that. The explorer scouts already have the skills needed to be a teacher, they’ve shown commitment and resilience (wet camps are the worst), what they need is to know they have financial security and support, put that in place and you won’t need to encourage them, they’ll want to go into teaching (just like their scout leader!)

      • Karen Coles

        “Bizarre”, Is the word that springs to mind. But then this is just a whitewash to cover over the problems in the scouts organisation. A deflection from what is going on in the background,regarding their negligence in the death’s of Scouts in their “care” on scouting camps. 11 in total since 1995 not including my uncle who lost his life when he fell from a cliff while camping with the scouts.He was just 15. Their numbers are dwindling and this is just a way of recruiting for them! This money should be given directly to school careers departments to benefit the education system. All parents please sign the petition to ensure safety is priority for future scouts. It has been set up by the poor mother’s who have lost their children this way. They are not receiving the support from anyone, but the scouts organisation are definitely benefiting from a damage limitation fund. Amazing the government find money for this!

  3. E Vine

    Taught for 53 years at all levels and in many kinds of settings. Loved teaching but after great progress on from Newsom and the push to develop technical education the whole secondary school curriculum and system took a massive wrong turn in the late 1970s and it’s been downhill ever since running on the wrong tracks. The model continues to resemble a model T Ford batch factory production line and is broken. The shortage of physics teachers is mentioned, no surprise, it has ever been so. I was fortunate enough to work in an IB school not perfect, because of the distortion the English system imposes and even the IB had not really followed through on its’ own principles but still light years ahead.
    The UK misapplies ed tec and has a dull repetative silo’d system that massively overloads teachers and turns students off. Until these issues are tackled schools and recruitment will remain in crisis.

  4. Jimmy S

    Recruitment crisis? Our SEN school just announced a £500k budget shortfall and the need to make 5 full time teachers redundant. I’m a qualified science teacher of 21 years experience and previous 10 years scientific research experience. I wonder if our LEA needs science teachers at all?

  5. I saw a job advert for a librarian the other day. £30-&£32 they were offering. Starting teacher’s wage has only just risen to £30k.

    The differences in expectations from a librarian to a teacher are huge. Why aren’t teachers recognised by the government?

    Our time at ‘home’ is spent doing things for work; we spend our own money on resources because of poor funding; our TAs are losing hours because of lack of funding; there are only enough special school places for a third of the children who need it and so they are in mainstream. We adore every child as unique individuals but the differences in children’s needs within one class are too vast for the staff our budgets can afford and the facilities/ support we can give them. It’s exhausting…. And then we get paid but still rely on credit cards to see us through the month.

    If someone said to you,
    “You’ll start on £30k… You’ll have 30-34 children in your class, you need to create 4 lesson plans per day, all of which need to be adapted for those who struggle, those who are on track, those who are exceeding, those who are Dyslexic plus you have children who need adaptions for autism, processing conditions, dyspraxia and those who have ADHD and will probably need regular brain breaks. This work from 30-34 students in one day with four different lessons (120-134 pieces of work per day) then needs to be marked and next steps planned for. You’ll also be expected to attend staff meetings, lead a club after school, email/ phone parents after school and lead a subject for the school which needs monitoring and curriculum overview planning for the whole school. You probably won’t have time for a lunch break because behaviour logs and safeguarding concerns need to be reported and recorded plus you’ll be on break duty once/ twice a week. It’s ok because you can have 2.5 hours a week to plan for all of the learning during the working week. Your weekends and half terms can be spent on planning too. Fancy it?

    What would you do? Be a teacher or a librarian?

  6. Adult teacher

    I teach adults in a college. I have a lot less admin. I have just as much homework. I’m swamped. I don’t know how my colleagues cope (ok, I do, I don’t see why they should volunteer so much free labour). I have never been tempted to track kids, and I never will unless the amount of effort that goes into teaching is recognised financially.

    I really doubt anything less will address the gaps.

  7. Really thought this was an April fools article when I read the first paragraph. I teach at a sixth form and many students certainly consider teaching as a career but then they look at their teachers exhausted, downing lunch in 5 minutes whilst trying to also send 5 emails… plus reflect on their experiance of our exam factory system and for some strange reason decide to look at other careers. It’s going to get worse those the DfE are trying to recruit now were at the sharp end of the covid algothrithim and other debacle and will be even less keen

  8. Gezzer P

    The problem is not the lack of teachers. The problem is the system uses, then abuses people who enter the profession. These people do it for all the right reasons, to help the next generation grow into responsible adults. So many teachers leave, many broken and burnt out due to all the factors already identified by many many others. The system is designed by politicians who should take almost all of the responsibility for running the system into the ground. But they wont because they will never be held accountable for the results in any meaningful way. The irony that teachers are held to account, often on weekly or daily basis really angers me. I find it very hard not to despise most education secretaries, when they do so much damage to tens of thousands of pupils and staff.

  9. Jackie Leonard

    The scouts need to sort themselves out before taking things like this on. My son died due to neglect by scout leaders and the association and he is not the only child who has died on a trip. They need to properly train their leaders and should have an external regulator. The government should think of this before handing out all this money. It’s disgusting