CREDIT: This story was first seen in The Telegraph
Class sizes are set to swell after a government report warned that there is a “growing sense of crisis” in teacher recruitment against a backdrop of soaring pupil numbers, The Telegraph reports.
Ministers have failed to “get a grip” on teacher retention, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said, adding that it is “particularly worrying” that the number of secondary school teachers has been falling since 2010.
At the same time, secondary school pupil numbers are due to increase by 540,000 – almost 20 per cent – by 2025, according to the Department for Education’s (DfE) official forecast.
“The Department should have been able to foresee this situation and take action to address it,” the PAC report said.
“The failure of the Department to get to grips with the number of teachers leaving puts additional pressure on schools faced with rising numbers of children needing a school place and the teachers to teach them.”
The report found that the DfE has a “disparate collection of small-scale interventions” to address the crisis in teacher retention, but these are “inadequate” and fail to address the underlying issues.
Meg Hillier MP, chair of the PAC, said: “A crisis is brewing in English classrooms but government action to address it has been sluggish and incoherent.
“It should have been clear to senior civil servants that growing demand for school places, combined with a drive for schools to make efficiency savings, would only build pressure in the system.
“Instead they seem to have watched on, scratching their heads, as more and more teachers quit the profession.” She added that the Government needs to address the issue of teacher retention and draw up a plan to support struggling schools “as a matter of urgency”.
Unless the government intervenes, the challenges in teacher retention will become an “intractable threat” to children’s education, she added.
Schools only managed to fill about half of vacant posts in 2015/16 with qualified teachers who had the experience and expertise required, according to the report.
Many teachers cited workload as their main reason for leaving the profession, according to the report. It found that officials spent 15 times more on training new teachers than it spent on supporting the existing workforce, adding that it had got this balance wrong.
MPs also called on the government to move to end wide variations in the quality of teaching across the country.
A DfE spokesperson said: “There are now a record number of teachers in our schools – 15,500 more than in 2010 – and last year, despite a competitive labour market with historic low unemployment rates and a growing economy, 32,000 trainee teachers were recruited.
“Retention rates have been broadly stable for the past 20 years, and the teaching profession continues to be an attractive career.”
The spokesperson said that they are consulting on proposals to improve development opportunities for teachers and making efforts to tackle workload.