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Are there enough teachers at your school? Fresh concerns over ‘recruitment crisis’ in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 21:26 26 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:43 27 November 2017

Schools are struggling with a

Schools are struggling with a "leaky pipeline" of teachers, with not enough joining the profession and too many leaving, experts have warned. Picture: DAVE THOMPSON/PA WIRE

The teacher recruitment crisis in Suffolk has been underlined by a fall in training course applications and concerns over younger teachers increasingly quitting.

Headteachers say they are struggling with a “leaky pipeline” of teachers across the country, with not enough joining the profession and too many leaving. Two-thirds believe it will get worse, one survey found.

School budgets, workload and pressures, and pay and pensions are considered to be the main factors behind recruitment and retention levels, above retirement.

Anna Richards, executive leader of Suffolk and Norfolk School Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), said the number of departing teachers is “frighteningly” high and revealed there has been a “slight” fall in primary and secondary teacher training course applications for September 2018.

The figures were not disclosed, but it reflects a national trend, she said. Secondary schools are thought to be acutely affected in the UK.

Mrs Richards said: “We have got very good candidates and I am optimistic, as a provider, of a good supply of quality of teachers,” she said.

She put the application fall down to an unfair “bad press” of the teaching profession.

She admitted the job is “challenging”, such as marking homework and preparing lessons until late at night, but has many benefits, such as the reward of improving a child’s education.

Thirty teaching-related jobs were being advertised over the weekend for primary and secondary schools in Suffolk. Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy, in Ipswich, has vacancies for four teachers, including English, maths and science. Two are for maternity cover. A spokesman said all posts are “quickly filled” without impacting pupils.

Two of the seven teachers at Langer Academy Primary in Felixstowe are resigning at Christmas. In a letter to parents, executive principal Christine Kemp-Hall admitted the “change” is difficult for parents and pupils but stressed high-quality replacements would soon be appointed.

Margaret Bulaitis, secretary of the Ipswich branch of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “It is so worrying that teachers, especially young ones, are leaving the profession at an ever increasing rate. However it comes as no surprise when workload has become unmanageable and we are under constant scrutiny.

“Teachers in the UK are now the most micromanaged in Europe. All of this has a cumulative detrimental effect on morale and wellbeing.”

Plans to solve the nation’s recruitment crises range from live video links in classrooms to shorter working hours.

Graham White, of the Suffolk NEU, said: “We have known about teacher shortages for some time but the government refuses to acknowledge the crisis. Schools are desperate to recruit and retain teaching staff but there are simply not enough qualified teachers for the increased pupil numbers.

“If the government is to rectify this crisis it needs to avoid its usual sticking plaster approach and address the key issues of pay, pensions, workload and enable teachers to feel valued and their professionalism to be recognised.”

There are around 5,290 full-time equivalent teachers in Suffolk, and 2,760 full-time equivalent teaching assistants, the latest government data shows.

There is an average of 19.2 pupils per teacher, but the ratio rises to over 25 at 18 schools, and is just over 30 at one primary academy school.

Most schools did not record data on teachers aged over 50, but of those which did, one in five (21%) fell into this category. More than half of teachers were aged over 50 at 10 schools, including 73% at one rural primary academy.

The average teacher salary was £36,541 (November 2016) and 94.2% were qualified, but around a third were unqualified at seven schools.

Earlier this year, the education select committee accused ministers of focusing too much on attracting new teachers and too little on preventing experienced teachers quitting. The Government insists the number of new teachers is outnumbering those choosing to leave or retiring.

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