ASCL produces route map to help tackle teacher recruitment crisis

18 April 2015

The Association of School and College Leaders has produced a route map into teaching to help address the growing teacher recruitment crisis.

School leaders and would-be teachers have reported that the complexity of the training system and lack of clarity over the array of routes into the profession has put off enthusiastic candidates. These factors are among a number of issues which are contributing to a crisis in teacher recruitment.

ASCL has received anecdotal evidence that candidates have given up on the application process and taken up jobs as teaching assistants instead.

ASCL recently published the results of a survey of headteachers which showed that nearly half of respondents have vacancies in the core subjects of English, maths and science.

A majority of headteachers were experiencing difficulties in recruiting in both core and non-core subjects, and felt the situation was worse than in previous years.

Potential teachers are currently faced with a confusing plethora of training options.

These include School-Centred Initial Teacher Training, School Direct, Teach First and Troops to Teachers, as well as the traditional postgraduate route.

Although the entry requirements are the same for each option, the training and methods of assessment vary.

ASCL’s route map is a simple one-page guide, explaining each route, with hyperlinks for further information.

ASCL General Secretary Brian Lightman said: “We recognise the value of having a variety of routes into teaching. We don’t want to turn the clock back. Different people are suited to different approaches.

“But it is an issue at the moment that people have found it very confusing to understand how to go about getting into teaching and it has not always been obvious to them where they should look for objective advice about all the different routes.

“This confusion has deterred people at a time when there are significant recruitment problems.

“Many schools all over the country report great difficulties in recruiting trainee teachers of the right calibre, newly qualified teachers in specialist subject areas and also recruiting people into more senior posts, especially heads of departments in core subjects.

“It is also particularly difficult to recruit people in challenging schools.”

ASCL has produced its route map in response to requests from school leaders who were themselves confused about the array of options and wanted to be able to provide their own students and sixth formers with clear and comprehensive information.

The guide is available on the ASCL website and has been distributed at various events and conferences.

Feedback has been positive. School leaders appreciate the simplicity of the guide and hyperlinks to specific information about each route.

The Department for Education and National College for Teaching and Leadership have also welcomed the initiative.

The Association of School and College Leaders has also drawn up a 10-point plan to tackle the ongoing teacher recruitment crisis, with proposals for both government and the teaching profession:

For government:

1. Expand the number and autonomy of School-Centred Initial Teacher Training networks (SCITTs)

SCITTs have effectively led school-based initial teacher education for several years. They have a successful track record not only in educating beginner teachers but also in retaining them. Encourage more schools to join SCITTs.

2. Coordinate the development of SCITTs at a national level

Oversee the development and coordination of a pipeline of SCITTs at national level and stimulate them in areas of the country where recruitment is most difficult.

3. Protect teacher training providers in areas of the country where recruitment is most difficult

With the current drop in applications, teacher training providers that cannot fill enough places to make ends meet and cover their costs might pull out. Consider safety net arrangements for training providers faced with a shortage of applicants but serving parts of the country where their disappearance would worsen supply problems.

4. Launch a recruitment and retention offer for teachers in areas where there is difficulty in recruitment

Fund high-performing multi-academy trusts to recruit good and outstanding teachers and middle leaders on flexible contracts which enable deployment to schools in local areas where there is difficulty in recruiting and/or retention. Include a ‘disruption payment’ as a financial incentive for teachers on these contracts and pay accommodation expenses.

5. Commit to pay off the annual repayment of some student loans for as many years as eligible teachers remain in state-funded schools

This incentive could be costed and targeted on the most severe shortage areas/subjects. It would be a successor to the ‘golden handshake’ acting as an incentive to teach.

6. Review and modify the Teacher Supply Model and the allocation of initial teacher education places

Ensure the Teacher Supply Model is able to take account of regional variation in supply and demand, ensuring there are enough teachers in each sector, subject and region.

For government and the profession

7. Support a profession-led campaign to attract people into teaching

The teacher shortage and its impact is of such concern that a commitment from government to work in partnership with associated agencies to address the issue is necessary.

8. Implement the recommendations in the Carter Review

Develop a core curriculum for initial teacher education including a strong foundation in subject knowledge and the method and practice of teaching, behaviour management, assessment and preparation for teaching students with special educational needs and disabilities.

For the profession

9. Ensure trainee teachers have a strong foundation in the method and practice of teaching and subject knowledge

There is an opportunity for schools and higher education to work together to ensure that teachers entering the profession have a strong foundation in the method and practice of teaching and subject knowledge. In the best examples of partnership work this is already the case, establishing an approach which could be further developed elsewhere.

10. Develop a professional learning ladder, of which initial teacher education is the first rung, led and quality-assured by the profession

Now is the time to develop the ability of SCITTs and teaching schools to put in place high-quality professional learning for all teachers, in which initial teacher education is the first rung on a professional learning ladder.