Shortages of specialist teachers

Almost 20,000 more specialist teachers are needed to fill shortages in EBacc subjects.


According to NEU calculations, 18,565 additional subject specialist teachers are needed to address current shortfalls in English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects. These include over 4,000 maths teachers, almost 4,000 languages teachers and over 2,500 teachers in each of science, English, design and technology, and computing/ICT.

The figures show how many extra subject specialist teachers would be needed to fill all the hours currently taught by teachers without a relevant post A-level qualification in their subject. This does not take into account increasing class sizes, the increase in secondary pupil numbers, the collapse of graduates entering teacher training or any other contributing factors, which means the actual shortfall may be higher.

Additional qualified teachers required in education bar chart

Of course, in many cases a teacher may choose to widen or change their subject area, and in many cases may be able to perform as well or better than teachers who qualified into the subject. In other cases, a teacher may be forced to teach outside their original specialism due to shortages and the school recruitment and retention crisis. Even in this scenario, many are able to adapt and perform just as well as their peers. However, in other cases members have reported to us a range of impacts which include:

  • Higher workload and stress for the teacher concerned, due to the extra time needed for planning and preparation in a less familiar subject,
  • Impact on pupils where a member feels “out of their depth” or not able to teach to the level they would like when outside their specialism,
  • Impact on colleagues and managers where a teacher needs some support in getting up to speed on the course/subject content, or are only able to teach lessons up to a certain level or age group.

Examples of relevant post A-level qualifications could include an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in the subject concerned, or a PGCE or similar teacher training qualification with a specialism in the relevant subject.


We looked at the number of hours currently taught by all teachers in English state-funded secondary schools, and the percentage of those hours currently taught by teachers without what the DfE terms a relevant post A-level qualification.

From this, we calculated the total number of hours taught by non-specialist teachers in each subject. Dividing the total number of hours taught by the number of teachers taking the classes gives an average of 16.3 hours of teaching time per teacher per week.

Dividing the total number of hours taught by non-specialist teachers per week for each subject by 16.3 gives us an estimate of the number of specialist teachers that would be needed to make up the shortfall.

All figures are sourced from the School Workforce Census, collected in November 2022.

Back to top