Train more teachers than needed to tackle recruitment crisis, MPs told
More teachers should be trained than are actually needed to tackle the recruitment crisis, experts have said.
England should follow other countries in building an “oversupply” of trained teachers so that vacant posts are filled with high-quality applicants rather than any trained teacher who applies.
Heads have tried offering “golden handshakes” and other perks including gym memberships and childcare vouchers worth thousands of pounds to win the best graduates, while the Government has introduced salaried schemes so applicants are not put off by the PGCE.
Yet physics teachers continue to fall at least 3,000 short of the 10,000 needed for the country’s children, while other subjects such as geography and religious education are increasingly being taught by non-specialists, according to reports.
Flood market with teachers
But now advice laid before the Education Committee said that only by “oversupplying” the market with teachers, as is done in countries such as Canada, will the damage being done to children’s education as a result of teacher recruitment problems be halted.
Robin Bevan, headteacher at selective grammar Southend High School for Boys, said that because the demand for teachers was outstripping supply, pupils were being taught by anyone who had gained NQT status.
“Almost everybody who completes their training who wants a teaching job gets one. And a significant proportion should not. That’s a very blunt statement,” said Mr Bevan.
“Until you oversupply, you will not be able to solve the problem. The teacher supply model only ever tries to meet the need, not exceed the need.”
The suggestion comes after evidence shows a lack of well-qualified teachers leads to bigger classrooms, less personalised learning and a reliance on supply teachers who do not know students so well.
Last year, there was a 6.5 per cent drop in the number of graduates applying for teacher training on School Direct and other schemes (TeachFirst not included). While fewer applied, however, more were accepted than in 2014 – almost 28,000.
Professor Chris Husbands, vice chancellor of Sheffield University, told the Committee that countries such as Canada had long since employed a model of deliberately training more teachers than are required by schools.
“If you want to solve the problem of teacher supply at a system level […] there are systems, and Ontario is a very good example, where they are very happy to oversupply the market.”
Professor Husbands warned that this could lead to parents complaining that their son or daughter had trained to be a teacher and now could not find a job.
The UK has historically been reluctant to train more teachers than needed because it was seen as “a waste of public funds,” he added.
A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our priority is making sure we get the best teachers in the schools where they’re needed. In order to make sure that’s the case, we’re investing significant sums of money in teacher training and it’s essential we get that right.
“The number and quality of teachers has never been higher and the number of teachers returning to the classroom is also rising year on year. Over 1,000 more graduates are training to teach than a year ago, with record levels holding a first class degree.
“With three months still to go we have recruited in excess of our postgraduate targets in primary and in several secondary subjects. We are also making significant progress in STEM subjects, having recruited more than at this point last year in most subjects, including maths and science.”