The number of teachers leaving the profession has increased by 11% over three years as the government continues to fall short of recruitment targets, Whitehall’s independent spending watchdog has found.
Despite spending £700m every year on training, ministers have failed to reach their own goals for recruitment for four consecutive years, according to the National Audit Office.
In a report released on Wednesday, indicators suggest teacher shortages are growing. Between 2011 and 2014, the recorded rate of vacancies and temporarily filled positions more than doubled from 0.5% of the teaching workforce to 1.2%. Secondary school teacher training places are proving particularly difficult to fill.
Over the same period, the number of teachers leaving the profession increased by 11%, and the proportion of those who chose to leave the profession ahead of retirement increased from 64% to 75%.
The new figures have led to an unusually strong warning from the head of the NAO. Amyas Morse said that he could not approve of the Department for Education’s “value for money” objectives following the report’s findings.
“Until the department meets its targets and can show how its approach is improving trainee recruitment, quality and retention, we cannot conclude that the arrangements for training new teachers are value for money,” he said.
The DfE has not recruited enough trainees in the majority of secondary subjects, the NAO found, with 14 out of 17 secondary subjects having unfilled training places in 2015-16, compared with two subjects with unfilled places in 2010-11.
More secondary school classes are being taught by teachers without a relevant post-A-level qualification in their subject, the report, called Training New Teachers, found.
Auditors said the proportion of physics classes being taught by a teacher without such a qualification rose from 21% to 28% between 2010 and 2014.
Headteachers said that it continues to be a struggle to recruit teachers. Sue Croft, principal at Oxford Spires academy in east Oxford, said she advertised for five posts last term – physics, chemistry, business, geography and English. “I didn’t get any applications – not one,” she said.
She finally managed to fill the vacancies by using agencies and has recently appointed five “brilliant” newly qualified teachers for next September from overseas.
The NAO report states that while the DfE and the National College for Teaching and Leadership have increased the number of routes by which people can qualify, potential applicants are not being kept informed to help them decide where to train. Providers and schools told the NAO the new training routes have led to confusion.
Auditors found that 53% of the 44,900 full-time equivalent teachers who entered the profession in 2014 were newly qualified, with the remainder either returning to teaching after a break or moving into the state-funded sector from elsewhere.
Lucy Powell, the shadow education secretary, said the report should be a wake-up call for the education secretary, Nicky Morgan.
“Having enough high-quality teachers is the first job of any education secretary, yet year after year she has failed to attract and retain enough teachers in our schools. This record of failure is threatening school standards and the future success of the next generation,” she said.
The Guardian Article