There appears to be an undertone of concern and worry at the start of this academic year, and it’s not just coming from the students. Niggling in the ears of parents, and shouting louder in the face of teachers, it seems there is an issue that doesn’t seem to be going away in any hurry – a lack of qualified teachers.
The qualified teachers void has widened, that is quite clear, and although teacher recruitment shows a small 3% increase this year, it is way off the mark. There is a shortfall of 10% in trainee teachers starting this academic year, with a -282 in maths and -253 English trainee teachers.
So what exactly does this mean for children and the teachers? Should parents be concerned about how to support their children through this? I sit and wonder how this situation is going to be corrected. Education ministers have not declared a crisis as yet, so let’s hope the teaching profession is nurtured enough to keep the cogs turning at a sufficient speed.
Some schools however are already struggling to find what they need. Daniel Boffey reported in The Guardian that Dr Robin Bevan of Southend High school for boys did not get a single applicant for his maths teacher vacancy during last Christmas holidays. It forced him to double up classes and teach them himself. Bevan said “I think it is fair to describe the situation as critical,” he said. “I know other schools in the Southend area have effectively given up on having maths specialists. They use teachers who are primarily trained in other subjects first.”
This creates a situation in many cases where not only classes are doubled up but where teachers are having to teach subjects they are not qualified in. This is becoming quite common practise now, but unfair to pupils who might not be getting as much out of their lessons as perhaps they could. It is causing concern for parents, wondering where to turn for additional support. Remember that children are faced with being forced to repeat a subject if they don’t get the grade, so it is vital to them that they understand what they are to be examined on. Some parents are being forced to take up private tuition, which is fine for the more privileged families, but what about those that can’t afford a private tutor? Although, now there is the more affordable option of e-learning which is quickly becoming one of the main supportive resources to school children. So my advice as a parent is to at least get some of this on the go, so that your child has access to support at home when they need it.
So turning to video lessons as your support and home learning resource most certainly helps and boosts grades and understanding, that we know and is a clever thing to be subscribing to. But how do we get more teachers back into the profession? The teachers that can help children attain the grades they are told they have to get – C or above. What sort of changes are truly required here to turn things around? Incentives, respect, autonomy, focus and probably pay rises equal to the rest of the economy, and more.
The teaching profession needs support and understanding behind them. The teacher supply model doesn’t appear to be bringing in what it was designed to, so reassessment of this could perhaps be a smart move…
Welcome back, to what appears to be a challenging year ahead for all!