Recruitment of secondary school teachers falls short for 7th consecutive year

The secondary school teachers recruited in the UK was only 85 percent of the required target. The acute shortage of teachers is causing challenges for students who are understaffed. There is also fear of shortages of teachers in areas such as Maths, Physics and Foreign languages.

Figures published by the UK Department for Education (DfE) shows that the department has failed to reach its recruitment of secondary school target for a seventh consecutive year. This is raising fears within the department that there might be a shortage in areas such as Maths, Physics and Foreign Languages.

Secondary school recruitment targets

The figures showed that, although there was an improvement in the number of teachers recruited, the recruited secondary school teachers were only 85 percent of the target in 2019. The secondary schools, therefore, will have to strain with the low number of teaching staff due to the inadequate supply of teachers.

The most affected areas were physics, modern foreign languages, maths, chemistry and computing. There were few specialists hired in these areas than anticipated; for instance, in Physics, the department was able to hire only 43 percent of the required specialists. This number was lower compared to 2018 when the number acquired was 47 percent.

Biology had a 96 percent target reached for primary school teachers and a 66 percent increase in 2019 for secondary schools. This was a huge improvement for the biology teaching staff.

Kevin Courtney, a joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said that the number of students in secondary schools had already risen by 150,000 since 2014. He also anticipated that this number is expected to grow by more than 300,000 in the next five years. The acute shortage of teachers will be detrimental to the rising number of students.

He continued by saying,

Even where trainee targets have been met, recruitment to initial teacher training courses is just the very start. New teachers need dedicated support to help them develop into competent professionals.

Teacher retainment in the UK is also at its lowest point, with a third of teachers leaving their profession within five years. This has also resulted in the acute number of teachers available in secondary schools. The department is coming up with strategies to combat this shortage, including efforts to raise the starting salaries.


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