Heads warn of growing ‘crisis’ as four in five schools struggle to recruit staff

Headteachers have warned of an ongoing “recruitment crisis” after new research revealed that almost four in five schools are finding it difficult to fill vacancies.

According to headteachers’ union the NAHT, 79 per cent of school leaders who advertised positions had a problem filling them.

Just over 50 per cent of headteachers questioned in the study stated that the difficulty in finding personnel was due to an overall shortage of applicants.

The figures are contained within the union’s annual recruitment survey, which polled more than 2,100 school leaders, and is due to be presented to the Commons education select committee this morning.

The numbers chime with TES’ own analysis, which revealed that there was a 6.9 percentage point drop in positions being filled between 2014 and 2015.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “The education committee today asks whether there is a crisis in the recruitment of teachers and school leaders; our evidence clearly shows that there is.”

Respondents also reported the growing problem of teachers leaving the profession in their local area, with 33 per cent of school leaders stating this was an issue up from just 15 per cent the year before.

Mr Hobby said: “Teachers need to believe they can and do make a difference.”

He added: “It is possible to be both proud of past achievements and ambitious for more: governments need to develop a better way of engaging with the profession for improvement.”

To deal with the problems filling positions, schools have turned to recruitment agencies. Almost half of the surveyed headteachers had done this, and over two-thirds had used agencies because of a previous failure to find candidates.

“This is adding to schools’ recruitment costs, which average £3,000 per vacancy but can run up to £10,000,” the report says.

The high cost of housing and living in London and the South East has contributed to recruitment problems, the survey suggests.

Mr Hobby also said the government should reconsider a recent decision to reduce the investment in primary sector initial teacher training.

He called for a review over assumptions about the numbers of new primary teachers needed.

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