Commenting on the publication of the trainee number census 2021/22 which details provisional recruitment to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) against the Government’s postgraduate targets, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"Successive Conservative governments have fallen short of their own teacher training targets year on year. 2021 is no different. Targets for secondary were met in 2020 but this turns out to have been just a pandemic effect: today's figures are even worse than 2019. Subject shortages stubbornly continue, particularly physics but also maths, geography, modern foreign languages and computing. We need to recruit an extra 18,682 teachers to restore the pupil: qualified-teacher ratio to its 2015 level. By 2025, secondary pupil numbers are expected to increase by 5% and secondary class-sizes are rising rapidly. These pressure points cannot be ignored for much longer.
“The Government will congratulate itself on reaching ITT recruitment targets for primary when it is only the pandemic that has done this, not the Government’s policies. This will be a very short-lived comfort if retention is not urgently addressed.
“It is hard to see how the numbers will rally as the economy recovers from Covid-19, if not simply irrational to believe that an inflexible government clinging to the same education and economic policies will suddenly inspire a wave of new recruits to teaching.
"The Government has got to look seriously at both recruitment and retention, which remain huge problems for our schools. To many onlookers considering teaching as a career the prospects have looked increasingly unattractive. Teaching is a great job, but the problems of high workload, excessive accountability and persistently under-inflation pay are driving staff out - many of them after only a couple of years in the job. This is not only a waste of taxpayers' money, but a waste of talent.
"The role of Government in depressed recruitment and poor retention is all too clear. They need to act on workload, for example by pulling Ofsted out of schools still struggling to recover from Covid-19. They also need to get real about pay. A £30,000 starting salary must come soon before its appeal is completely eroded by inflation. A commensurate pay rise to support staff and supply staff is also essential. The STRB must be given a completely free hand in the next pay review and we will be calling for an 8% pay rise, which must be fully funded by Treasury. If Government truly values education, then it must also value educators.
"In short, pay has been driven down over the last decade and workload has been driven up. Until the Government addresses these two simple facts, recruitment and retention will remain a big issue."