The figures show that the teacher recruitment and retention crisis continues, strengthening the National Education Union’s call for the improved teacher pay and working conditions needed to solve the crisis.   

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“This latest data shows the unacceptable consequences of the school funding crisis and the numbers of teachers being driven out of the profession through the Government’s failure to address workload and teacher pay. 

Teacher recruitment continues to lag behind increases in pupil numbers, resulting in fewer teachers per pupil.  In secondary schools, full-time equivalent teacher numbers have fallen by over 10,000 in the last four years, despite an increase of almost 150,000 pupils. Teaching assistant numbers in secondary schools also continue to fall, by 3% in the last year alone and by over 15% in the last five years.

“In both primary and secondary sectors, the proportion of pupils in classes of more than 30 continues to rise; it now stands at 13% (558,658 in primary, 402,469 in secondary). Average secondary class sizes continue to rise at their fastest ever rate, while the average class size in primary remains at its highest level since 2000. The number of secondary pupils in large classes is at its highest level since 1981. This is clearly bad for the education of children and young people and needs to be urgently addressed.

“Teacher retention rates at all career stages continue to decline, with an increasing proportion of recent recruits and more experienced teachers leaving the profession. Almost a third of teachers (32.3%) have left the sector five years after qualifying, up from just over a quarter (26.0%) seven years ago. Average teacher pay continues to lag behind inflation, meaning that the real value of teacher pay continues to decline.

“Today, in the Public Accounts Committee’s annual report Chair Meg Hillier MP has said the Department for Education now ‘tops my departments of concern.’  The mismanagement and underfunding of our schools is now undeniable.

“With the latest report from the School Teachers’ Review Body still to be published by the Government, teachers and parents will be looking for urgent and effective action from the Government to enable schools to recruit and retain the teachers we need.  That means additional resources to reverse the real-terms cuts to school funding.  It also means reversing the pay cuts that have hit those working in education and reducing the excessive hours worked by teachers and other school staff. 

“The NEU will continue to campaign for the additional school funding and better pay and working conditions needed to secure a first-class education service for pupils and parents.”



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Note to editors:

  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe.
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.
  • The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.