Teacher shortage getting worse, say MPs

Rikama Education 21st February 2017

The government is failing to take adequate measures to tackle “significant teacher shortages” in England, a committee of MPs has said.

The Education Select Committee has called for a long-term plan, as schools struggle to recruit enough teachers and pupil numbers continue to rise.

MPs want more active efforts to reduce the numbers quitting teaching.

The Department for Education said there were currently record levels of teachers.

A spokesman said: “We recognise there are challenges.”

But, he said, the department had spent £1.3bn on a recruitment campaign.

The report from the cross-party committee, though, says recruitment targets for teaching had been consistently missed and the teacher shortage is getting worse.

It warns that this causes particular problems in some shortage subjects in secondary school, including physics, maths and computing.

Initiative overload

But the MPs say that there is no clear long-term plan to address this – and they suggest there should be greater efforts to keep teachers from leaving the profession and moving to other jobs.

Figures last year showed that almost a third of new teachers who had started jobs in English state schools in 2010 had left within five years.

The MPs want measures to tackle problems that make people leave teaching – such as an “unmanageable workload” or a lack of professional development.

“The government needs to do more to encourage teachers to stay in the profession by raising the status of teachers, improving the opportunities for good quality training, and by doing all it can to help reduce teacher workload,” said Neil Carmichael, who chairs the committee.

He said the government could consider “holding fire” on policy changes that added to the pressure on schools.

And he suggested schools needed time to support staff development without constantly being “distracted by the demands of the latest Whitehall directive”.

Malcolm Trobe, leader of the ASCL head teachers’ union said: “The crisis in teacher supply has a direct impact on the education that schools are able to provide to their pupils.

“It means that important subjects like maths and science have to be covered by teachers who are not specialists in these subjects and that schools have to increasingly rely on supply staff.”

Dame Alison Peacock, chief executive of the Chartered College of Teaching said: “As well as bringing new talent into our profession, we must stretch every sinew to hang on to that talent and develop it further.”

Ministers have argued that they have kept teaching as an attractive profession in a competitive jobs market.

There have been a series of high-profile advertising campaigns for teaching and there are financial incentives focused on attracting recruits into shortage subjects.

Labour’s shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said the government was “failing to deliver on its most basic of tasks”.

“Recruitment targets are being missed, school budgets are being cut for the first time in decades and we have thousands more unqualified teachers teaching in our schools.”

Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh said the lack of pay rises for teachers had added to a sense that they were “undervalued”.

“It’s high time the cap on public sector wages was lifted so teachers were given the pay rise they deserve,” he said.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “There are more teachers in England’s schools than ever before, with secondary postgraduate recruitment at its highest since 2011.

“We are investing more than £1.3bn in recruitment over this Parliament and have recruited more trainees in key subjects like physics and maths than last year.”

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Call to end ban on council-run schools sponsoring academies

Rikama Education 10th February 2017

A ban on top council-run schools sponsoring failing schools amounts to “red tape” and should be dropped, say council bosses.

In England, only schools with academy status are allowed to form trusts to sponsor weaker schools.

And, the Local Government Association said, a shortage of “good quality” sponsors often left failing schools “in the dark about their future”.

Ministers said there was no legal frame for council schools to be sponsors.

The Local Government Association says 91% of council maintained schools are rated good or outstanding by education watchdog Ofsted – so they should be allowed “to play a direct role in raising education standards and improving life chances, including taking on the running of failing academies”.

New analysis of Ofsted ratings for the LGA by education analysts Angel Solutions found a higher percentage of good and outstanding grades among council maintained schools than among academies.

Of 14,890 council maintained schools inspected, 91% are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, compared with 85% of 5,058 academies, say the researchers.

There are wide variations within the academy category, with sponsored academies, which are forced into academy status after poor Ofsted ratings, predictably faring worse than converter academies, which must be rated good or outstanding before being allowed to convert.

The LGA points out that the majority of academies are converter academies.

Inspection ratings for 4,103 converter academies showed 89% rated good or outstanding but among the 955 sponsored academies inspected the figure was only 65%, according to the analysis.

Richard Watts, chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said the figures proved councils had “the track record, experience and expertise to help lift schools out of academic failure”.

“The government must commit to removing the unnecessary red tape and give high performing maintained schools the option of becoming academy sponsors.

“Councils want to be regarded as improvement partners, not obstructionists to school improvement,” said Mr Watts, who is also the leader of Islington Council.

“With a shortage of academy sponsors and struggling schools currently in the dark about their future the simplest remedy is to give councils the power to turn these schools around where this is the best option locally.”

Mr Watts also voiced concerns about the local knowledge and capacity of the eight Regional Schools Commissioners, whose job is to oversee academic standards.

He said that without the help of councils “the early warning signs of failing” risked being overlooked.

“It is not acceptable that we have to wait for poor exam results, whistle-blowing about financial impropriety or an Ofsted inspection to trigger intervention.

“Councils are best placed to oversee school effectiveness and take immediate action where required,” added Mr Watts.

A Department for Education spokesman said there was no legal framework for a council or council-run school to sponsor a school unless they opened a trust – and this would involve converting to academy status.

“We would encourage good or outstanding council-run schools to apply to become a sponsor so they can share their expertise,” said the spokesman.

The spokesman said councils could not run multi-academy trusts “as legally less than 20% of members and trustees are allowed to be ‘local authority influenced’ to ensure the trust remains autonomous from the local authority”.

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Half of academies fall short on funding

Rikama Education 1st February 2017

More than half of academies in England have lacked enough income to cover their annual expenditure, according to figures revealed by ministers.

An answer to a Parliamentary question shows that the proportion of academy trusts with an annual shortfall doubled in two years.

It comes amid growing warnings about school funding shortages.

But Schools Minister Nick Gibb told MPs on Tuesday that school funding had been protected and was at record levels.

The figures have been revealed in response to a question about academy expenditure from the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Storey.

Funding concerns

These figures for 2014-15 show that 53% of stand-alone academies were recorded as having “spent more than their income per year”, up from 42% in the previous year.

Among multi-academy trusts, the proportion spending more than their income was 53%, compared with 25% in the previous year.

This did not necessarily mean that the academies were left in deficit – as they could have been using reserves from previous years.

The ministerial answer says that in 2014-15 only 4% of academy trusts had such a “cumulative deficit”.

But the Liberal Democrats say that it shows a rising problem with inadequate funding, for academies as well as local authority schools.

“Academies are already falling short of cash and this a deep concern to staff and parents. It shows that the system that the Conservatives have created has a shaky foundation,” said Liberal Democrat education spokesman John Pugh.

“The government want to pretend that academies and free schools are the answer to the funding problems but this shows that they’re not immune to the impact of the government slashing education budgets,” he said.

School leaders have been increasingly vocal in concerns about funding levels.

Head teachers have been warning about having to cut school hours, governors have threatened to refuse to sign off budgets and grammar school leaders have said they might have to start charging parents.

Last week, heads were angered when it was revealed that £384m earmarked for converting schools into academies last year had been taken back by the Treasury.

On Tuesday, Nick Gibb, minister for school standards, faced questions from the education select committee on school funding.

He rejected suggestions of underfunding for schools and told MPs that the government had “protected funding at a time when we are dealing with an historic budget deficit”.

Mr Gibb said schools were receiving more than ever before – and that this would rise with a further increase in the school population.

The way that school funding is shared out to individual schools is also being changed – with the launch of a new funding formula.

The schools minister said that the government had “grasped the nettle” on needing to reform a funding system that was often uneven and unfair.

But there was no “silver bullet” on school funding, he said, and switching to a new formula would mean winners and losers.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said these figures were about income and expenditure within the year – rather than overall deficits.

“An academy trust is required by law to balance its budget from each academic financial year to the next,” said the DFE spokeswoman.

“Where the board of an academy is proposing to set a deficit budget for the current financial year, it must notify the Education Funding Agency (EFA).

“Wherever appropriate, the EFA will provide support to academy trusts experiencing financial difficulty but where we find financial mismanagement or irregularities we will not hesitate to take swift action.”

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Overseas teacher recruitment drive revealed

Rikama Education 26th January 2017

The government is planning an international recruitment drive for specialist maths and physics teachers for the first time since the 1970s.

It is tendering for a £300,000 contract to recruit teachers from the Czech Republic, Germany, Poland and the US.

It comes as the Migration Advisory Committee recommended widening the number of subjects for which schools could recruit from non-EU countries.

The committee held back from declaring a national shortage of teachers

Head teachers, most of whom have been struggling to recruit in all subjects areas, said the committee’s findings were “very disappointing indeed”.

‘Full-blown crisis’

It found a continuing shortage of teachers in physics and maths and added computer science and Mandarin to the list.

This justified the recruitment of teachers in these subjects from countries outside the European Union, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) said.

Placing these subject teachers on the shortage list effectively makes it easier for schools to recruit them, by lifting immigration controls on them.

The DfE’s International Teacher Recruitment Strategy, initially in maths and physics for secondary schools, was revealed when the BBC obtained papers relating to the contract,

It involves employing a private company to “support schools in recruiting qualified teachers in shortage subjects from overseas into English secondary schools”.

The contract talks of recruiting 50 maths and physics teachers initially, but this may be expanded to cover other subjects, the paperwork shows.

It is thought to be the first government-sponsored international recruitment strategy since the mid-1970s, when teachers were also in short supply.

It may be seen as a way of side-stepping any potential impact of new immigration controls attached to Brexit.

Currently, schools recruit teachers from EU countries without any visa restrictions.

‘Plug shortfalls’

Malcolm Trobe, acting general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said it was good that the DfE had recognised this was an issue that needed addressing but added: “Fifty teachers in these key subjects is a fairly low target figure given the scale of the problem faced.”

The finding that there was no occupation-wide shortage of teachers “flies in the face of the evidence”, he said.

“That is the experience of schools up and down the country which are dealing with a full-blown teacher recruitment crisis,” he said.

“School leaders are reporting severe difficulties in recruiting staff in many subjects, and they are deeply concerned about the impact on their pupils.”

The ASCL had called for the shortage occupation list to be extended in order to make it easier for schools to recruit from outside the European Economic Area to help plug these shortfalls, Mr Trobe said.

It was a shame that schools would be denied this opportunity in many subjects, he added.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “While the MAC’s report highlights that there is no shortage of teachers nationally, we recognise there are challenges.

“That is why we are spending more than £1.3bn over this Parliament to help attract the brightest and best into the profession, including offering generous tax-free bursaries and scholarships in key subjects and through our teacher recruitment campaign: Your Future: Their Future.”

The Migration Advisory Committee was asked by then Home Secretary Theresa May to assess whether there was a national shortage of teachers or just a shortage in some subjects.

It comes after trainee teacher targets were missed four years running.

Currently, teachers who qualified in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US, as well as in the European Union, are allowed to register their qualifications to obtain qualified teacher status in England.

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Rikama Education Going International!!!

Rikama Education 20th January 2017

Rikama Education are recruiting international teachers to come and work in Kent. We are currently reaching out to teachers across Europe, Canada and Australia, but will be working across more countries in the near future.

With such a shortage of teachers here in the UK and a shortage of teaching jobs in other countries Rikama Education plan on helping those who are struggling by helping them find work.

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Above is a picture from a job fair we attended in Canada at Western University. Although it didn’t have a great turn out we didn’t give up there! Our next visit was to York University which had a much bigger turn out. Attending these job fairs, we hope to find teachers to help the crisis in the education industry. Our trip to Canada turned out the be quiet successful and we hope to return soon to help NQT’s and qualified teachers find jobs in Kent.

We would like to thank the universities for letting us attend the job fairs, and everyone who turned up and was interested in Rikama Education and what we have to offer.

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