Estelle Morris: Sleepwalking into UK’s worst teacher recruitment crisis

Writing in the Guardian, Estelle Morris says the government is refusing to admit we even have a teacher crisis – or that its policies are to blame.

…There are a number of key government policies that are affecting the environment in which schools have to recruit and exacerbating existing difficulties.

Take the decision to let the market determine the allocation of initial teacher training places. A failure to inject strategic planning has led to whole regions of the country with too few student teachers, especially in key subjects. The knock-on effect is that many schools have no local training provider and find it much more difficult to recruit.

Then there is the policy at the core of the government’s approach to raising standards – handing the responsibility for leading the school system to schools and holding them to account for doing so: more autonomy within a framework of greater accountability. Almost every “freedom” granted has been matched by a tightening of the accountability framework. The responsibility to lead the school system that is given to “outstanding” schools and teachers, through being designated a teaching school or a national leader of education, has been mirrored by constant change and tightening of the criteria needed to be awarded and to keep this status…

We need to pump energy into the profession, yet the constant change of Ofsted framework and government’s ever-tighter control are sapping the energy and creativity that is essential if the system is to do all we ask of it.

If this becomes the pattern, the profession will need a very different approach to teacher recruitment and retention. Leaving teaching after, say, 15 years would no longer be seen as a waste but just a factor in our school system. It would mean raising the recruitment targets and being more imaginative about supporting people to enter and leave the profession at different stages of their lives. It’s a situation we need to act on. But while the government is refusing to admit we even have a crisis, there is little prospect of realistic action…

More at: Sleepwalking into UK’s worst teacher recruitment crisis


Some interesting insights from the former education secretary (and there’s a lot more in the full article) – do you go along with them or see things differently?

I certainly think the idea of people leaving and joining (even rejoining) the profession at different stages of their lives is something that is inevitable in the future – it will be so in many profession – and the sooner this is embraced the better (which is not to say retaining teachers is not important – it clearly is).

Your thoughts and reactions? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Policy and Teaching.


  1. Snorrarcisco

    SchoolsImprove until results get affected government will not admit a crisis. Academies can employ anyone for a teaching role burn them and

  2. Snorrarcisco

    SchoolsImprove repeat the process every 2 years. Keeps wages down, new blood in, grades dont shift and league table position unaffected

  3. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove What politicians rarely mention is large proportion of teachers who’re close to retirement; couple this with low recruitment

  4. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove London will be able to recruit as they get far more funding, elsewhere’s a different story, another fact MPs rarely mention

  5. Morris needn’t worry – the new DfE recruitment ad should solve the problem!  Bright young things striding into the classroom – but didn’t show the exhausted, jaded ones leaving a couple of years down the line (and without having reached the £65k for a ‘great teacher’).

  6. Dai_James1942

    SchoolsImprove Labour has enthusiastically supported compulsory academic education, which is cause of much of difficulty #unemployability

  7. Steps_2_Work

    SchoolsImprove I hope for future of education in this country, that the government is right about academies as a workable national model

  8. TW

    More bleating irrelevance from this woman whose ‘solution’ to the problems amounts to ‘get used to it’.  She still won’t admit how destructive Ofsted has been  and still lacks any contrition for her failure to abolish it.  The only function of these appalling NuLab apparatchiks is as a reminder of how useless they were except in their wholesale betrayals of their voters.

  9. acet2001

    SchoolsImprove of course they know there’s a crisis, they’ve engineered it. All an attempt to discredit state education, then privatise it.

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