“This is a serious, structured attempt to address a teacher recruitment and retention crisis the government was long in denial about. But whilst committing to a strategy is necessary, this strategy itself is not sufficient.

“Despite lots of interesting initiatives, the strategy will not be a game-changer for the major problems of excessive and unnecessary workload, diminishing pay levels, and a punitive and unreliable accountability system.

“Let's be clear - Ofsted's inspections regime is a cause of unmanageable workload, not a solution. Whether teachers leave or try to make it work in these circumstances, pupils suffer. Teachers don't just work long hours but feel under pressure to do work that serves the accountability process first, when what they want, and their pupils need, is a total focus on teaching and learning.

“Simplifying school accountability is a sensible move but putting more faith in Ofsted gradings is a major problem given the pressure inspections put on schools, the workload impacts that result and the lack of confidence in Ofsted’s reliability, validity and impact on pupils’ learning.

“Teachers’ pay is too low and needs to be increased across the board, as the School Teachers’ Review Body recognised last year.  Limited interventions and supplements will be inadequate, temporary in effect and probably just prompt shortages elsewhere.

“The early career framework can ensure vital potential and passion is not lost from the profession. In particular, extra time off timetable for second year teachers could really change how they view their formative years as professionals in the classroom. We look forward to seeing a truly supportive, teacher-led support programme rolled out, with the level of funding that it needs to allow schools to give teachers and mentors the time and training to make a success of the early years of teaching and set them up for impactful careers.

“Teachers should be able to take advantage of the benefits of flexible working but job sharing only works if the job itself is not bursting at the seams. Until government gets teacher and leader workloads under control we still risk seeing professionals feeling forced into Monday to Wednesday hours so they can finish the job unpaid on Thursday and Friday, in order to be able to enjoy a weekend with their families.

“The recruitment and retention crisis will not disappear with today's publication. Government has arrived late and whilst acknowledging but avoiding tackling the big, embedded, cultural issues head on, the problems may get worse before they get better. The NEU hopes what is in the strategy will start making a difference for pupils and teachers alike.”

ENDS

2019-010-NEU