Teacher shortages ‘are holding back secondaries’

01 December 2015

Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw launches his fourth annual report today (Tuesday, 1 December), saying that the overall performance of secondary schools lags behind that of primaries and that children in the North and the Midlands are less likely to attend a good or outstanding secondary school than their counterparts in the south.

Brian Lightman, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

We fully support the drive for further improvement and there is still much work to be done, but it is also important to recognise the achievements and the hard work of teachers and school leaders across the country. Three-quarters of secondaries were rated as outstanding or good in their last inspection – more than 2,300 schools.

“One of the key reasons that some secondary schools are struggling, particularly in areas of disadvantage in the North and the Midlands, is a nationwide teacher shortage, and we are pleased that the Chief Inspector has identified this as a critical issue.

“The impact on secondary schools is particularly severe because the recruitment of subject specialists is so crucial. It is increasingly difficult to recruit teachers in core subjects like maths and science, and this is often even more so in schools in challenging circumstances.

“The Government has recently launched the National Teaching Service to encourage the best teachers to schools in struggling areas and we support this initiative. It is of the utmost importance that teaching in general, and particularly in these areas is better incentivised, celebrated and supported by all of us.

“There are also many lessons to be learned from the London Challenge initiative which demonstrated the huge difference that focused support and investment can make on improving results. There is no doubt that areas of disadvantage in the Midlands and North would also benefit from similar approaches and we would certainly support the collective action that the Chief Inspector recommends.