Education isn’t the only sector to be suffering from major skills shortages, however, it is one of the most acutely impacted, with up to 95% of schools and institutions struggling to recruit the teachers they need. Teaching vacancies in English schools have doubled in the past two years, and the problem doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon, as the number of new entrants to Initial Teacher Training (ITT) has fallen from 40,377 in 2020-21, to 28,991 last year, just 71% of the government’s target, official figures show. Targets were missed in key subject areas like maths, biology, chemistry and computing, where just 30% of target recruitment figures were met, while in physics, this number falls as low as 17%. However, education must go on and headteachers have no option but to persevere, no matter how bad the situation gets. But what can they do to tackle these shortages in the short term?
Recruit recent retirees
One option that many school leaders are opting for is to target recently retired teachers. While this is far from ideal and may not represent the idyllic retirement that former educators may have dreamt of, this approach provides a short-term fix for a problem that can’t be solved quickly. While we would all like to develop a robust talent pipeline of permanent staff, this isn’t often possible because of the nature of the industry and the requirement for training periods to be completed. Keeping in touch with recent retirees and encouraging them to fill the void while you source new staff is one method that many schools are being forced into adopting.
Step into the breach
While it’s unlikely that many school heads have anywhere near the time required to be able to lead classes themselves, again, this is an option that many are having to opt for. It might be time to dust off your books and lead certain classes where permanent staff simply aren’t available, at least in the short term. Sadly, far too many headteachers and institution leaders are likely to have been placed in this situation in recent years.
Possibly the least desirable of all options is to combine classes and ask your existing staff to teach larger groups. Obviously, this will only be possible in those institutions with smaller classes, and with enough physical space, however, this is one method that many were forced into adopting during the coronavirus pandemic and may, sadly, already be familiar with.
Look to supply specialists
Schools can, of course, look to the expert skills of supply specialists to fill the void left by worsening staff shortages. These professionals can be called upon at short notice to cover gaps and can be trusted to provide expertise at a time when it is certainly needed. This approach is particularly effective when you already have a pre-existing relationship with the supply teacher(s) that you are utilising and can avoid a significant amount of stress required to keep your school functioning at a high level. Here at The Supply Register, our unique, custom-built platform gives schools, academies and trusts complete control over their supply teacher recruitment and management. In addition, all of our candidates are strictly vetted and are paid at the best market rates, guaranteeing you access to the best quality teaching and support to build up a bank of specialist staff.
Our model was created in order to make a difference and, as a forward-thinking organisation that is driven to make a difference and with the ability to utilise our technology, you will find innovation at every corner of our business. If your school is one of the many to be impacted by shortages and is looking for a solution to tackle the pain in the short and medium term when permanent staff are hard to come by, then speak to our expert team.
Take a look at more of our insights for teachers and school leaders.