‘Severe shortage’ in teachers for new academic year

The Education Policy Institute (EPI) has warned that schools in England are facing a ‘severe shortage’ of teachers ahead of the new academic year, with bigger class sizes and more subjects taught by staff without a relevant degree.

The think tank says that the problems of teacher recruitment have remain unresolved over the Summer months, with targeted pay increases touted as a possible way to reduce shortages.

A new report from the think tank warns that a lack of staff has already meant a worsening teacher-pupil ratio, rising from 15.5 pupils per teacher in 2010 to 17 in 2018, with particular problems for getting specialist teachers for maths and science.

 

The research shows that in poorer areas outside London, 17 per cent of physics teachers have a relevant degree, compared with 52 per cent in affluent areas in the rest of the country. Portsmouth, Hampshire, Newham, Barnsley and Doncaster were singled out as ‘geographical cold spots’, where schools are rated as least likely to have teachers in shortage subjects with a relevant degree.

London and the south-east of England, as well as Bath, north-east Somerset, Rochdale and Darlington, were highlighted as being among the areas with the highest levels of teachers with a degree in their specialist subject.

David Laws, chairman of the EPI and former Education Minister, highlighted the concern over the fact that ‘as little as half of GCSE maths teachers have a maths or sciences degree’, as well as stating how there is ‘unequal access to subject-qualified teachers for more disadvantaged schools outside London’.

Luke Sibieta, report author, said: "There is strong evidence that these pressures can be alleviated by targeted salary supplements. Policy-makers have begun to consider this potential solution, yet so far proposals have been far too modest, and exclude many of the areas most in need. The government should therefore roll out a more ambitious scheme which offers incentives to teachers in a greater number of shortage subjects, covering more areas."

The Department for Education claims that it has made staff recruitment a top priority.

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