THE TORIES are failing to tackle the acute teacher shortage crisis in schools across England, a committee of MPs said yesterday.
The Education Select Committee report says recruitment targets for teaching have been consistently missed and that the teacher shortage crisis is getting worse. Figures last year showed that almost a third of new teachers who had started jobs in English state schools in 2010 had left within five years. It also showed that the amount spent on supply teachers is rising fast. The MPs highlight particular problems such as ‘unmanageable workloads’ and teacher shortages in key subjects including physics and maths.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the teachers’ union NASUWT, said: ‘The government’s analysis of current and future teacher supply needs is seriously flawed. ‘It is the government’s own policies which have resulted in excessive and increasing teacher workloads and dwindling pay.
‘These factors are driving existing teachers out of the profession, sapped of energy and enthusiasm for the job, and deterring new entrants. In the face of the overwhelming and growing evidence of the problem, the government must face up to the crisis it has created.’
Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: ‘The increasingly unacceptable workloads have made it more and more difficult both to recruit new teachers and to prevent existing teachers leaving. This unmanageable workload is driven by punitive accountability and is one of the main reasons given by many for leaving the profession. These long hours aren’t spent preparing exciting lessons for students but providing evidence for bureaucrats.’
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers union, said: ‘Not only are more teachers leaving the profession, but as the report learned, more are doing so for reasons other than retirement.’
Meanwhile, Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, spoke out about the desperate need for funding to fix up school buildings which are dilapidated. She said that the Department for Education needs to spend at least £6.7bn just to bring all school buildings up to a satisfactory state.
She added: ‘But the Department is choosing to open new free schools in areas which do not need them and are failing to fill places. This is taxpayers’ money that could be used to fund much needed improvements in thousands of existing school buildings.’