Teacher recruitment crisis can be averted using Skype and unqualified teachers

Sir Andrew Carter, leader of the government’s teacher training review, has said schools can help avoid a recruitment “crisis” by using virtual teachers from other countries and “embracing unqualified teachers”.

At an event about the future of the teaching workforce organised by think-tank Policy Exchange and teacher union ASCL, Sir Andrew described teacher training at the South Farnham School in Surrey where he is headteacher.

Each teacher rated “good or better” at the 758-pupil primary is matched to a trainee teacher who they mentor for a year, he said.

The academy has 150 trainee teachers overall and also employs 67 teaching assistants at the school: 58 of whom are graduates waiting to begin teacher training programmes.


Unqualified teachers

Sir Andrew said his school constantly advertised for potential teachers, including on their website and via posters.

“One of the dogmas is around unqualified teachers – we should be embracing unqualified teachers, in my judgment, every day.”

Adding: “We are looking to increase the workforce, not decrease it. We bring in lots of people – NQTs, trainee teachers, classroom assistants.”

If every teacher that was good or better trained one teacher a year we would be over-supplied

He also advocated more peer-to-peer teacher training.

“If every teacher that was good or better in the land trained one teacher a year we would be over-supplied.

“This isn’t actually very hard to do. What is hard is when you want one or two groups to train 50, 600, 100 teachers and all the rest to be consumers. We are all in this together.”


Use of technology

Technology that beams teachers into classrooms could help schools overcome a dearth of teachers, Sir Andrew said.

When speaking to a French teacher struggling to fill vacancies he “suddenly realised there are 60 million in France, and we have technology, so why don’t we embrace technology and just have a French teacher come in on a screen?

Adding: “It may not be the best way, but a crisis is when you say ‘there’s no more French, children, go home!’”

His call echoes recent work at the academy trust United Learning, where pupils are now offered astronomy GCSE across the trust’s schools led by one specialist teacher via Skype.



Several delegates at the event raised teacher workload, with one audience member saying she wouldn’t wish “her worst enemy” to join the profession.

“Make sure teachers understand it’s okay to go home with just their car key”

Sir Andrew said teachers had a duty not to encourage others to work very long hours.

Systems could be created to lessen assessment loads, he said, adding: “Make sure teachers understand that it’s okay to go home with just their car key.

“One of the things we need to teach teachers is how to sample mark … [and] we need to teach teachers is that it’s okay to go the pictures on a Wednesday, or go the gym.

“What it isn’t okay is to come in at 9 until 4 – it isn’t that sort of job – but my teachers do 8 to 6.”


For more on the teacher shortage, see this week’s print edition of Schools Week

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  1. Debra Kidd

    His teachers do 8-6? Which effectively means he is discouraging parents from teaching in his school. And how is it reasonable to expect staff to be on site for 50 hours per week? No wonder they can only carry their car keys home. I know that most people do work those hours and more, but to pretend that this is a nod towards a work life balance is dreadful. Still, maybe he would support the idea of his teachers working from home and beaming in for their lessons via Skype?

    • Have heard this recently from other schools. Odd, given that one of the reasons I went into teaching was the flexibility to have a family life from 5-8pm, and then work for a couple of hours afterwards. Trust is one of the key issues in recruitment and retention and I think this presenteeism culture itself makes recruitment worse!

  2. Ian Phillips

    This guy’s come from the same Department Store as most Republican Presidential Candidates FUKWITZ R US – wasn’t aware they had opened a branch in the UK – clearly they have.

  3. He thinks there’s 60 million French teachers in France. And they let this bloke run a school?

    Glad he lets his staff work 8-6 though, how caring. Is it any wonder there’s a recruitment and retention crisis?

  4. Sad to say, but this guy has absolutely no idea what the reality is for most Teachers!
    I recently had no choice other than to leave the ‘profession’ after working 80 hours per week including term time holidays, government and school management have been promising for years to tackle work/life balance, they have failed miserably and wonder why so many teachers are leaving the profession!

  5. Angie M John

    My heart sinks every time I see a government official make ridiculous statements such as the one we see above. CLUELESS about the reality of what actually goes on in schools. UGH

  6. Janet Downs

    Just had a look at school performance tables for South Farnham School of which Sir Andrew is head. In 2014 the Year 6 cohort had so few previously low attaining pupils their results were suppressed. And only 5% of pupils in the school have been entitled for FSM in the last six years. That’s the way to keep results high – ensure previously low attaining and disadvantaged pupils are educated elsewhere.

  7. Janet Downs

    My set 4 Year 10 and 11 English sets would have loved a virtual teacher. They could have spent all lesson throwing paper aeroplanes (or worse) at the screen. Or ignoring the teacher altogether – it was quite a feat to get them to notice a real one physically present in the classroom.

  8. David Lindley

    I was a Headteacher until I had a massive breakdown and was retired on ill health grounds. I was always in school by 7am and rarely left until 6pm, often later and worked at home and weekends.

    The school was successful and I did all I could to ensure the staff kept some work life balance. Teaching ultimately cost me my health, my house, in fact everything save for my wife and daughter.

    This man appears to be an idiot with no idea about classrooms.