Release date: 21/02/2017

The government has been unable to address the challenges of teacher recruitment and consistently fails to meet recruitment targets, according to a Select Committee report out today.

Empty Desk (credit: Ryan McVay)

For the past five years, teacher recruitment targets have been missed, and attracting teachers in certain subjects and regions continues to present the government with significant problems.  

The committee of MPs has called for a “long-term, evidence-based plan” to tackle challenges associated with the supply of teachers, particularly focusing on high-needs subjects and regions. They have called for this plan to be published before the end of the school summer term 2017.

The committee also recommended that more needs to be done to improve teacher retention, calling on school leaders to promote a culture of wellbeing in school, which might include capping the amount of hours worked outside of teaching time.

Click here to read the National Governors’ Association’s written evidence to the committee as part of this enquiry.

Emma Knights, Chief Executive of the National Governors’ Association, said:

“Many school governors and trustees are concerned about the recruitment and retention of teachers and senior leaders, and so we welcome the committee’s recommendation for a strategic approach to recruitment; something we called for in our written evidence.

“We are, however, disappointed that the committee has not been more ambitious about the scope of the strategy. The way schools are organised has changed so considerably in the last five years that it has challenged our ideas about what schools are and how they ought to be staffed. This has huge implications for recruitment and retention. That’s why, in our evidence, we called for a thorough review of the management and leadership structures within schools.

“School governing boards have a duty of care to their employees and should ensure their health, safety and wellbeing at work. This should include measures to prevent staff from working excessive hours and consulting employees on issues that concern them.We welcome the committees’ focus of CPD and retention. NGA has been encouraging governing boards to prioritise this for some years. Governing boards should ensure they have methods of listening to staff as well as monitoring exit interviews and staff turnover.”

Click here to read Emma’s blog ‘Are we doing enough to keep our staff?’

Select Committee Recommendations include:

  • The Department for Education should assess the numbers of teachers needed in the system and include pre-existing shortages in this. This should be in place in time for the next targets to be set.
  • The Government should follow through on its plan to launch a national vacancy website which will be free to use for schools, and use the data to inform teacher recruitment targets.
  • The Department should publish teacher shortages on a regional basis to better inform teacher recruitment.
  • The Government should collect more data on teacher retention rates. This should include the reasons why teachers leave and their route into teaching, to inform where intervention and investment should be directed.
  • School leaders should carry out systematic exit interviews and use this information to better understand staff turnover.
  • The Government should recognise the importance of stability following major changes to accountability, assessment or the curriculum to allow recent reforms to be embedded.
  • The Government must do more to encourage schools to implement the recommendations of the workload challenge.
  • Ofsted must do more to dispel any misunderstandings of its requirements and promote good practice by monitoring workload in its school inspections.
  • All school leaders should promote a culture of wellbeing in their schools, which will include taking greater account of teacher workload. This could include implementing the recommendations of the workload challenge or ‘capping’ the number of hours teachers work outside of teaching time.
  • All teachers should have the entitlement and opportunity to undertake high-quality, continuing professional development.

The government will respond to the report, normally within two months. 

TES/NGA annual survey 2016: teacher recruitment

35% of governors and trustees found it difficult to attract good candidates when recruiting a headteacher. This increased to 42% for senior staff posts and 50% for teaching posts (up from 38% in 2015).

Our survey found that recruitment at all levels is most challenging in the South East, London and the East of England. There were notable regional differences in recruitment to teaching post at subject level. For example, 41% of respondents from the East Midlands found recruiting English teachers particularly difficult compared to just 17% of London respondents. However, only 37% of East Midlands respondents said the same for chemistry, compared to 52% of those from London. 


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