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Recruitment, Retention and Region: the three ‘R’s’ challenging school performance in England

John Howson

Now that the summer term has ended it is possible to look at the 2016 recruitment round for teachers in some detail. although the recruitment round will include vacancies for January 2017, the majority of appointments were for September 2016 and that data will inform the paper for BERA this September.. 

TeachVac submitted updated evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee Inquiry into ‘the supply of teachers’ earlier in July. So far, it does seem to have been the only comment on the 2016 recruitment round. There is also little discussion about what 2017 might look like on the evidence of applications to train as a teacher. The evidence is available on the Education Select Committee web site.

However, last weekend after submitting the evidence, I took the opportunity of looking in more detail at where the secondary and all-through schools with the most number of recorded advertisements for classroom teachers so far in 2016 are located. Now, this first look is very crude, as it doesn’t standardise for the size of a school and it stands to reason that larger schools are likely to have a greater turnover, as are new schools. Other factors affecting the number of adverts a school might place could be the result of an adverse Osfted inspection or a sudden growth in popularity and hence an increase in pupil numbers requiring more teachers to be appointed.

Leaving all these factors aside, a clear national trend stand out for the second year in succession: London dominates the top of the table for schools with the most advertisements so far in 2016. 

Top 50 schools for recorded number of advertisements in 2016 by region where the school is located

London                  23

South East             11

East of England     6

West Midlands      6

South West             2

North East               1

North West             1

There were no schools in either the East Midlands or Yorkshire & The Humber recorded as in the top 50 schools with the most recorded advertisements.

So, for many schools in the north of England, concerns, where they even exist, are often limited to recruitment issues in specific shortage subjects, whereas in London and the Home Counties the problem looks to be more of a general one of finding classroom teachers in many subjects. 

This data is confined to secondary school classroom teacher vacancies, as that is the area of greatest concern. The fact that our survey last week also revealed schools in London were still advertising a substantial number of School Direct vacancies on the UCAS web site must be a further cause for concern, and a worry for the 2017 recruitment round. 

These numbers also suggest that trialling the National Teaching Service in the North West and Yorkshire might have been sensible because a smaller number of schools might be looking for teachers, but there might also be fewer teachers looking to move schools in those areas, so the supply of experienced teachers willing to work in challenging schools might indeed be less than elsewhere. 

Over the rest of the summer I will drill down into the data and I will report further findings at the BERA Conference in Leeds this September.