“Secondary schools struggling to get enough teachers, says watchdog”

“Secondary schools are struggling to recruit enough teachers to keep up with retiring staff and rising pupil numbers despite annual expenditure of about £21bn on their teaching workforce, the government’s spending watchdog has said.

Tens of thousands of teachers left England’s schools before reaching retirement age last year, and headteachers are finding it difficult to fill posts with good quality candidates, according to the National Audit Office.

A report released on Tuesday concludes that the Department for Education cannot show that its attempts to keep teachers in the classroom are working or demonstrate value for money in keeping with the NAO’s remit.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the school leaders’ union NAHT, said the report was “pretty savage but entirely justified”.

“As the report says, the government cannot get away from the fact that it does not keep data on local supply and demand and cannot show that its interventions are improving teacher retention.

“As such, the DfE is scrambling around in the dark, wasting money and without a clear plan to tackle recruitment and retention. It’s a national problem. So it needs a national solution,” he said.

The report found that 34,910 qualified teachers left the profession for reasons other than retirement last year. There was a 4.9% fall (10,800 staff) in the numbers of secondary school teachers, it said.

A survey by the NAO found 85% of secondary school leaders did not think they had been given enough support by the government to retain high-quality teachers, while 67% said teachers’ workload was still a barrier to keeping people in the profession. Nearly all – 97% – thought cost was an obstacle to improving the quality of their workforce.

Schools filled only half their vacancies with teachers who had the right experience and expertise, the survey found, and in about one in 10 cases, the post was not filled. …”