Career progression in teaching: What’s driving UK educators?
At the same time as recruitment into training has become more of a challenge – and early evidence suggests that the 2014 round will be just as challenging as last year unless there are more applicants over the next few months – schools have increased their demand for teachers compared with a few years ago. The next two months will determine the level of demand for new teachers in September, but increased pupil numbers in the primary sector together with the increased Pupil Premium will undoubtedly mean some schools will be seeking extra staﬀ. Vacancy rates are unlikely to fall compared with last year, and may even rise still further. Fortunately, the peak in the level of retirements has probably now passed as there are now fewer teachers approaching retirement age compared with a few years ago. As the recruitment process in teaching is so closely based upon a market, with jobs advertised and candidates free to pick and choose where to apply, vacancies may be easier to ﬁll in certain areas than others. London and parts of the Home Counties, where school rolls are rising, may struggle as they always have during periods of teacher shortage, not least because there are more alternative careers for graduates in London than elsewhere in the country. Although the shortages of a decade ago are a matter of history their legacy does still aﬀect schools, and will continue to do so for a number of years to come. In the years when new teachers were a scarce resource, there were fewer potential middle leaders a decade or so later. The challenge of ﬁnding middle leaders is a lasting legacy of the shortages that will continue as a result of the low numbers recruited in some years due to the cut in training targets. This is good news for those teachers looking for promotion, as the Guardian survey shows that many are.Indeed, it is clear that teaching attracts and keeps those that like working with young people and are passionate about their subject. But, schools must ensure that teaching remains both interesting and stimulating with a satisfactory work-life balance. If these important considerations aren’t attended to then more teachers will leave the profession. Reducing wastage from the profession will be as vital as recruiting ever more new entrants.
Prof John Howson is managing director of DataforEducation.info, an Oxford based research company and an authority on the labour market for teachers.