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Government must act urgently to tackle shortage of teachers - ATL

ATL | Association of Teachers and Lecturers

2 min read Partner content

Commenting on the National Audit Offices report on training teachers, Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said:

“Until now Government ministers have sounded increasingly shrill when they say they are tackling teacher supply problems.  But their many initiatives are increasingly looking like a desperate attempt to be seen to be doing something, without having any real effect.

“Hopefully the Government will finally do something to tackle the problem now the National Audit Office has come to the same conclusions as school leaders throughout England – that there are not enough teachers entering, or staying, in the profession.

“It is shocking that at a time of rising pupil numbers the Department for Education (DfE) has missed its teacher trainee recruitment targets for the last four years.  If 14 out of 17 secondary subjects had unfilled training places in 2015, this means that nearly every secondary subject is now a shortage subject.  This will make it increasingly hard for schools to find enough trained teachers and force some to raise class sizes or cut the range of subjects they teach.

“It is hard to fathom why, given the scale of the teacher recruitment and retention crisis, the DfE does not have the data to quantify teacher shortages reliably.

“Yet the DfE does not know how effective school and university based routes are in retaining teachers in the profession.  Potential teacher trainees are confused by the different routes into teaching, and the DfE is not working closely with school leaders to identify those areas of the country where teacher recruitment is particularly problematic.

“We have urged the DfE to give universities three year targets so they can plan ahead and have some certainty about their future income. 

“We also call for Ofsted to carry out a detailed evaluation of School Direct training to find out how successful it is at recruiting trainee teachers and assess the quality of the training provided.

“It is all too easy for politicians to repeat the mantra that no education system can exceed the quality of its teachers. They must now explain to parents how teacher quality can be maintained when the profession is attracting, and retaining, too few teachers.”