Teachers are leaving as government falls short on recruitment, NAO finds

The Guardian is reporting that the spending watchdog has said the number of teachers leaving the profession has increased by 11% over three years as the government continues to fall short of recruitment targets.

Despite spending £700m every year on training, ministers have failed to reach their own goals for recruitment for four consecutive years, according to the National Audit Office. 

In a report released on Wednesday, indicators suggest teacher shortages are growing. Between 2011 and 2014, the recorded rate of vacancies and temporarily filled positions more than doubled from 0.5% of the teaching workforce to 1.2%. Secondary school teacher training places are proving particularly difficult to fill.

Over the same period, the number of teachers leaving the profession increased by 11%, and the proportion of those who chose to leave the profession ahead of retirement increased from 64% to 75%. 

The new figures have led to an unusually strong warning from the head of the NAO. Amyas Morse said that he could not approve of the Department for Education’s “value for money” objectives following the report’s findings. 

“Until the department meets its targets and can show how its approach is improving trainee recruitment, quality and retention, we cannot conclude that the arrangements for training new teachers are value for money,” he said. 

The DfE has not recruited enough trainees in the majority of secondary subjects, the NAO found, with 14 out of 17 secondary subjects having unfilled training places in 2015-16, compared with two subjects with unfilled places in 2010-11.

More secondary school classes are being taught by teachers without a relevant post-A-level qualification in their subject, the report, called Training New Teachers, found. 

Auditors said the proportion of physics classes being taught by a teacher without such a qualification rose from 21% to 28% between 2010 and 2014…

The NAO report states that while the DfE and the National College for Teaching and Leadership have increased the number of routes by which people can qualify, potential applicants are not being kept informed to help them decide where to train. Providers and schools told the NAO the new training routes have led to confusion…

More (including a response from the DfE) at: Teachers are leaving as government falls short on recruitment, NAO finds


Read or download the report from the NAO in full:

[pdf-embedder url=”https://4cpa373vsw6v3t1suthjdjgv-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Training-new-teachers.pdf”]


These appear to be pretty damning findings from the NAO yet the DfE position continues to be that more teachers are joining than leaving the profession and that the number of teachers per pupil has not suffered. 

The Conservatives, quoted in the full article, appear to be putting the blame on teaching unions for painting a negative picture of the profession.

Taking finger pointing out of it, what step or steps would you propose to start sorting the situation out now?

Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. Dr Kate Reynolds

    Could be solved if the Govt reversed the cuts to teacher training places at Universities…we are having to turn potential student teachers away….

  2. TeacherTrainer

    Filled university places immediately. Schools Direct plods along with students unenthusiastic for the model and recruitment slow. I thought they were non-interventionist. Surely students should be able to buy the training they want with their 9,000?
    The government is delighted with this report. It confirms a market is now operating: overseas, unqualified, local shortages, poor students taught by weaker teachers, pay differentials – they couldn’t be happier.

  3. Nairb1

    This can’t be correct. Nick Gibb recently said there was no teacher recruitment and retention problem and he’s correct about everything apparently.

  4. AndrewJMullen

    SchoolsImprove DofE r just polishing turds. U can’t attract real talent & knowhow for £10k a year. U will get dross. The stats don’t lie

  5. AndrewJMullen

    SchoolsImprove Only a small minority of committed & capable come in 2 teach 4 the vocation alone & they form a passionate core of quality

  6. AndrewJMullen

    SchoolsImprove The DofE need to take a long term & holistic view of the real cost of low salaries. Need 2 b offering top whack 4 key areas

  7. Dr Kate Reynolds Despite Govt attempts to kill off uni training over half of teacher trainees starting in 2015/16 were in uns.  This shows it’s a popular route but Government actions, as you say, mean turning student teachers away.
    The NAO says the various routes are not providing a ‘stable’ base – DfE approach is ‘short term’.  http://www.localschoolsnetwork.org.uk/2016/02/dfe-blames-unions-for-putting-people-off-teaching-after-nao-slates-dfe-record-on-recruitment

  8. Britinfloridaus

    None of this is new. I was taught A level Sociology by a History graduate. That was 40 years ago under a Labour Government. Additionally, he was not even a qualified teacher.

  9. terryfish

    SchoolsImprove The DFE should be put in special measures and taken over by those who know how to improve education constructively

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