United Kingdom: Headteachers Warn That Educational Standards Are Under Jeopardy Because Of Recruiting Issues

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The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) polled 766 state-sector school and college headteachers and found that 95 percent of them were encountering challenges in recruiting staff, and 43 percent felt the situation was “severe.”

Seven out of ten (72 percent) school heads reported utilizing supply personnel to fill vacancies, with 69 percent indicating that they were employing teachers who were not topic experts in classrooms, and 31 percent reported raising class sizes to deal with the situation.

The hardest subjects to get into include physics, math, design and technology, chemistry, and computer science, according to the heads who answered the survey.

In addition, over two-thirds of school heads (65 percent) said that they were having problems retaining their teachers.

The ASCL attributed this to a lack of financing from the government, an “excessive” accountability system, and salary levels, which they stated were the main factors.

Schools in the majority (92 percent) said that it was difficult to hire support workers, leaving them with many unanswered questions.

The poll was conducted in advance of the anticipated recommendation of the teacher wage award for 2022/23 before the conclusion of the summer semester.

According to the Department of Education, there will be a three-year salary award of three percentage points, followed by a two-year pay award of two percentage points for new teachers.

After instituting a wage freeze for the duration of the currently ongoing academic year, the ASCL underlined the fact that this was “significantly below” the inflation rate of 11.7%.

Geoff Barton, ASCL general secretary, said: “Teacher recruitment and retention has been extremely difficult for many years but our survey shows it is currently at crisis point. “Many schools and colleges are left with no alternative but to plug gaps with supply staff and non-subject specialists. “In several cases they have had to increase class sizes or cut subject options. The crisis extends to support staff where recruitment is also very difficult. “Teaching and support staff are the lifeblood of the education system. Without sufficient numbers, it is hard to see how Government targets to raise standards in literacy and numeracy can possibly be achieved. “In fact, despite the best efforts of schools and colleges, current educational standards may actually be at risk.”

Shadow schools minister Stephen Morgan said: “This chaotic, rudderless Government is sleepwalking into a crisis in teaching, draining talent from our schools and limiting children’s learning and development.” “Twelve years of Conservative government, two years of pandemic chaos and unsustainable workloads are sapping the passion that drives people to the profession. “Labour would put 6,500 new teachers in classrooms across the country and back them with the training and support they need to deliver excellence in every school.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Teachers are the backbone of our education system. That’s why we have proposed the highest pay awards in a generation for new teachers – 16.7% over the next two years – alongside further pay awards for more experienced teachers and leaders. “These proposed pay increases sit alongside our Levelling Up Premiums of up to £3,000 tax-free for teachers in high demand STEM subjects and access to fully-funded, high quality professional development, helping to raise the status of the teaching profession and make it an attractive career. “The number of teachers in the system remains high and there are now more than 456,000 teachers working in state-funded schools across the country, which is 24,000 more than 2010.”