Commenting on the Government’s publication of census data on the school workforce in England, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"The school workforce data must be seen in the context of the severe recruitment and retention problems that have developed over the past decade. In the years leading up to the pandemic recruitment targets were missed and the number of teachers leaving the profession increased significantly. Too few teachers were recruited and retained to match pupil number increases, resulting in higher workload and pupil/teacher ratios. 

"Government policy directly contributed to the teacher recruitment and retention problems of the previous decade and is set to make the existing problems worse. Pay freezes, pay caps, the imposition of unfair and demoralising performance-related pay, and ever-increasing workload have reduced the attractiveness of teaching compared to other graduate professions. The Government's plans to freeze teacher pay again, with inflation rising and pay improving in other professions, will exacerbate these problems. 

"The underlying causes of the severe and persistent teacher recruitment and retention problems remain. Any improvements due to the pandemic will be temporary in nature. The full impact of the pandemic on teacher stress, health and retention has yet to be seen. Until the Government reverses course, to significantly improve teacher pay and conditions instead of planning more attacks on teacher pay, we will continue to struggle to attract and keep the teachers we need to deliver high quality education and recovery from the pandemic."