The number of school leaders blaming recruitment problems on an exodus of teachers from the profession in their local area has risen dramatically, a new survey shows.
In 2014, just 15 per cent of school leaders said that the rate at which teachers were quitting the job locally was making it harder to recruit, but that figure has jumped to 42 per cent this year.
The study by the NAHT headteachers’ union comes amid growing evidence, unearthed by TES, of heads offering “golden handshakes” and other financial incentives to recruit and retain teachers.
The survey shows that almost four in five schools have struggled or failed to fill vacancies this year.
The latest government figures showed that nearly a third of teachers who entered the profession in 2010 had dropped out within five years – although this rate has not declined markedly in more than a decade.
Government ‘falling short’
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, has warned of the “damage” being done to the teaching profession by poor retention rates.
“After three years of warnings by NAHT, the government is still falling short of its core responsibility to guarantee enough teachers of a high enough standard to meet the needs of our growing school population,” he said.
The figures are contained within the union’s annual recruitment survey, which polled more than 1,000 school leaders. This is the third year that it has run the research.
The new data reveals a rise in the proportion of heads citing high housing and living costs as contributing to recruitment problems, from 24 per cent to 31 per cent in a year. One primary school headteacher in London told TES that three of his teachers are leaving at Christmas because of high costs.
But it is also clear that a number of teachers are leaving the profession because of workload pressures. Tim Barnes, headteacher at Alkrington Primary School, in Rochdale, told TES that one of his Year 6 teachers – who has been working there for 15 years – is quitting to become a professional dog walker because she finds the current pressures “difficult to tolerate”.
Increasingly, it has also become more difficult to recruit and retain Year 5 and 6 teachers in his school. Mr Barnes said: “The marking workload, particularly higher up the school, is quite intense. In some cases, teachers are taking home 90 books every day and some stay up until midnight to mark.”
The Department for Education said that the government was investing more than £1.3 billion over this Parliament “to attract the brightest and best into teaching”. But it recognised that some schools can face recruitment challenges.
A spokesperson added: “We are also working with the sector to tackle issues that teachers tell us are most likely to lead to them considering leaving, such as unnecessary workload and poor pupil behaviour.”