Nicky Morgan has been accused of being “completely complacent and in total denial” about the teacher recruitment crisis.
The education secretary is also “glossing over” worrying teacher supply figures, according to Labour shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan.
Ms Morgan had told MPs that teaching was becoming more attractive to the “brightest and the best” graduates, with 90 per cent of teachers remaining in the profession after the first year.
Earlier this month, schools minister Nick Gibb sparked outrage among the teaching workforce when he denied there was a teacher recruitment crisis, claiming that schools were just facing “challenges” when it came to hiring staff.
But speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mr Brennan told Ms Morgan: “I’m afraid you are completely complacent and in total denial about the teacher recruitment crisis and the teacher training situation. I noticed how you glossed over the secondary figures in your answer and hoped we wouldn’t notice.
“If you won’t listen to us, because we know you won’t, will you listen to headteachers who are reporting consistently the difficulties they are having with recruiting teachers and act now to train and retain more teaching staff?”
But Ms Morgan rebuffed Mr Brennan’s attack, insisting that Labour was “talking down” the profession and adding that the vacancy rate in schools was less than 1 per cent.
“I do engage with headteachers up and down the country who tell me about the successes they are able to have in recruiting but also the challenges that remain,” she said. “We recognise that there are pressures as we see a recovering economy, and of course recruiting into something as worthy as teaching is going to be more of an issue.
“But that doesn’t mean it’s worth talking down the profession as the Labour benches and teaching unions sometimes do. We know the teacher vacancy rate remains as low as 1 per cent and, as I say, 90 per cent of those coming into teaching are still in the profession after their first year.”
Read the full facts on the teacher recruitment crisis and what it could mean for you in the 17 July edition of TES. Get it on your tablet or phone or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.