Memorandum submitted by Stephen Gorard,
Beng Huat See, and Patrick White, Cardiff University School of
The following sections contain a brief summary
of a fuller report prepared by Cardiff University for the General
Teaching Council of Wales on the issues of teacher supply and
retention, 2002. The full report is available from the authors.
In this summary we have removed figures, tables and issues relevant
only to Wales or only to primary schools, but present a subset
of the remaining figures relating to England, England and Wales,
or the UK. We have also removed sections relating to research
literature review, detailed methods, sources of data, and recommendations
for future policy, research, and data collection. Where appropriate
we have, however, retained the bullet point summaries of these
sections. All of the data presented is official, and is presented
for as many years as available. Bodies, such as the DfES, are
referred to by their previous names whenever the data relates
to that previous period. Our re-analysis shows that media, policy-makers,
and even researchers commentaries on the recent teacher "crisis"
are misleading, based perhaps on consideration of too small a
picture of teacher supply and retention.
There is no overall crisis in either the demand
for, or supply of, teachers. No single indicator of teacher demand,
including vacancies and pupil:teacher ratios, is sufficient in
isolation. Vacancy rates largely represent a snapshot of teacher
turnover within the profession, and are high when funding levels
to schools are high. They are often inversely related to pupil:teacher
ratios, which themselves do not translate easily into class sizes
because of local differences in the number and organisation of
- Vacancy rates are highest in the secondary sector.
- In England, the vacancy rate was at its lowest
recorded level in 1997, and has since shown a slight increase.
- This increase is most obvious in Maths, Science
and Technology posts.
- In England and Wales, secondary sector vacancy
rates are highest in Careers (4% but very small numbers) and Maths
- Corresponding vacancies in England and Wales
are lowest in humanities, social sciences and PE.
- Vacancy rates in England vary between different
types of secondary school.
- Vacancies in England are especially high in London.
- Nevertheless, a large number of trained teachers
in England are unemployed or not employed as teachers.
Teacher and pupil numbers
- In England and Wales there has been a huge growth
in the numbers of both pupils and teachers since 1970.
- Teacher numbers are not clearly linked to pupil
numbersfor example, the number of teachers employed in
the primary sector continued to increase from 1996 to 2000 when
primary pupil numbers dropped slightly.
- Since 1999, the growth in teacher numbers in
England has been greater than the growth in pupil numbers.
Pupil:teacher ratios (PTRs)
- In England, PTRs in primary and secondary schools
fell almost every year from 1947 to 1989.
- The lowest PTR ever recorded in England was in
1990, and there has since been a subsequent small rise.
- PTRs cannot be simply converted into class sizes
due to differences over time and place in school organisation.
- In 1998, the UK PTR in secondary schools was
lower than in comparable developed countries such as Canada, New
Zealand, Korea and the Netherlands.
- In England, vacancies were inversely related
to PTRs over the period 1985 to 2002.
- In 2002, vacancies were highest in London, where
the PTR was smallest, and lowest in rural areas, where the PTR
- In England class sizes increased from 20.7 in
1990 to 22.2 in 2000 (despite the above drop in vacancies).
- There is considerable variation of class sizes
between schools and regions.
- Inner London has the largest class sizes, but
the lowest PTRs, and so PTR is not necessarily converted to small
classesperhaps due to administration, school sizes, and
- Indicators for teacher supply are more crucially
effected by the setting of targets, rather than the availability
of potential trainees, or the demand figures (see above). Although
there are problems for some subjects, the number of applicants
per place and the high rejection rate for mature applicants suggest
that, overall, trainee numbers can be increased simply by increasing
the funding and targets (if desired).
- In England and Wales, in 2001-02, ITET recruitment
did not meet targets in subjects such as Maths, Science and Languages.
- This was despite a downwards revision of targets
for maths and science in 1998 and 1999.
- It is suggested that targets are primarily governed
by cost factors and economic prospects, rather than demand.
- Targets in England and Wales have been reduced
even in years when pupil numbers were rising.
- Regional problems might still exist if targets
were met, as the DfEE calculated targets at the national level
only. No evidence was found to suggest that practices have since
- ITET recruitment is generally more difficult
in periods of high employment.
- In 2002, employers reported a general difficulty
in recruiting Maths and Science graduates.
- One limit on ITET recruitment in shortage areas
of the curriculum is the number of students studying these subjects
at A-level and as undergraduates.
- It was estimated, in 2001, that around 40% of
all languages graduates would need to enrol in ITET to meet current
targets. Similar figures have been quoted for maths and RE.
- There is a growth in numbers of HE students,
but an absolute decline in those studying some shortage subjects.
- Therefore, the key problem is not in teacher
supply, but in graduate supply. Relaxing the requirements for
purported "specialisation" in secondary training would
assist (economics graduates can make excellent maths teachers,
- In England and Wales in 1999-2000, 17% of PGCE
students did not successfully complete their training.
- Over 29% of PGCE completers in England and Wales
did not subsequently take teaching posts.
- It was estimated that, in 1999, only 50% of original
applicants and 60% of those entering training, in England and
Wales, consequently took up teaching posts.
- There is a growth in the number of new entrants
to teaching, but a decline in the number of those who return after
a career break.
- As a percentage of all entrants to full-time
teaching in England and Wales, the proportion of NQTs increased
from 46.8% to 61.8% between 1990 and 2000.
- "Turnover" is defined by the School
Teachers' Review Body (STRB) as the number of resignations from
- Teacher turnover in England and Wales doubled
from 1994 to 2001. Most of this represented teachers moving from
one LEA school to another (see vacancies).
- In 2000, in England and Wales, turnover was greatest
in London at 16.5% (where vacancy rates are therefore higher).
- In England and Wales, in 2000, turnover was greater
among females (at 13.5%) than males (11.95%).
- Relatively high vacancy rates would be expected
at any moment in time, due to teachers moving between posts, making
vacancy rates a poor indicator of teacher supply.
"Wastage" rates and retirement
- "Wastage rate", as defined by the DfES,
is misleading, as it includes those moving to the further and
higher education sectors, independent schools, and/or to part-time
- In England and Wales, between 1990 and 2000,
"wastage rates" between primary and secondary sectors
varied in unison. There is no clear explanation for this synchronicity.
- Over this period, wastage was lower in the secondary
sector than the primary and nursery sectors.
- In England and Wales, 8-10% of teachers in service
left the profession each year between 1990 and 2000.
- In England and Wales, many (58%) of those leaving
the profession in 1999-2000 were aged less than 40.
- In England and Wales, between 1994 and 2001,
there was a small but increasing flow of teachers to independent
schools, overseas, and to other employment.
- In England and Wales, before 1998, the outflow
from teaching, for all reasons, exceeded the inflow. Since 1998
this has reversed.
- There were a large number of early retirements
in England and Wales in 1997-98, perhaps due to changes in the
Teachers' Pension Scheme in April 1997.
Quality of teachers
- It was reported in 1997 that, in England and
Wales, there was considerable variation in entry qualifications
to ITET by subject. Trainees in maths and Science tended to have
the lowest qualifications.
- In England and Wales, between 1990 and 2000,
there has been a growth in PGCE applicants with first and second
class degrees (from 82.3% to 91.7%) but this growth is in line
with national trends for HE.
- Between 1985 and 1999 the proportion of female
full-time secondary school teachers in England and Wales increased
from 46% to 53.4%.
- To redress this imbalance, potential solutions
include attracting more men into teaching and attracting more
women to study shortage subjects as undergraduates and at A-level.
- In England and Wales, in 2000, the most common
age for full-time teachers was 45-54. Very few teachers were aged
55+, perhaps due to early retirement
- In the same year, relatively few teachers were
in their 30s.
- The proportion of male and female teachers in
their 30s was roughly equal, but in the <25 and 25-29 age groups
females far out-numbered males. This is perhaps due to maternity
- But in 2001 applicants in their 30s were also
those least likely to be accepted onto PGCE courses in the UK.
- In Wales, in 2000-01, 2% of the population were
from minority ethnic groups, compared to only 1% of ITET students
and nearly 4% of first year higher education students.
- None of these ITET students described themselves
as belonging to "black" minority ethnic groups.
- In Wales, in 2000-01, students with disabilities
were also under-represented on ITET courses, at 4% of all trainees.
This includes students registered as dyslexic.
- This compares with an estimated 11% of the economically
active UK population.
- In England, funding per pupil was 10% greater
in 1999-2000 than it was in 1995-96. However, between these dates
- In England, between 1995 and 2000, there was
a strong correlation between the number of schools and the number
of teacher vacancies.
Some implications for policy
- There are currently many more applicants for
ITET than places available, meaning that places could still be
filled if targets were increased.
- It is not clear that the vacancy rate represents
more than a snapshot of turnover: ie teachers moving from post
to post. High vacancies can be a sign of a healthy profession.
- To be representative, the profession needs more
men, more older trainees, more disabled trainees, and trainees
from minority ethnic groups.
- More variation in what are considered relevant
qualifications and/or experience may encourage mature applicants
to ITET. This could address the "shortfall" of teachers
aged 30 to 40.
- A key loss of potential teachers occurs in the
transition from training to school.
- Keeping school numbers to a minimum can lead
to a more efficient use of teachers and thus avoid shortages.
- Minimising bureaucratic and managerial tasks
for teachers may help maximise the use of teachers' time.
2. THE DEMAND
2.1 Indicators of teacher numbers
The number of qualified teachers varies over
time for both demographic and economic reasons, while the demand
for teachers also fluctuates according to demographic shifts and
as a result of policy changes. However, teacher supply cannot
be calculated merely by using data on the number of teachers available
and the number of pupils needing to be served. Because of competing
views on the indicators of teacher supply and demand, there have
been disagreements, in the past and in recent years, between teacher
representatives and the Government over whether there was a teacher
supply "crisis" (Grace 1991, House of Commons First
Report 1997a, 1997b, House of Commons Select Committee on Education
and Employment 2000). The most commonly used measure of teacher
shortages is the number of vacant posts expressed as a percentage
of the total number of posts (House of Commons 1997a, paragraph
21). However, because of the factors discussed above, alternative
indicators are used in this report where possible.
2.2 Teacher vacancies
Teacher vacancies are perhaps the most direct
measure of teacher shortages. They may not necessarily mean that
there are too few teachers per se, but can indicate that
there may be a mismatch between the teachers available for work
and the types of posts needed to be filled. It is possible for
teacher unemployment to co-exist with vacant posts, as it does
today. Data on teacher vacancies must, therefore, be examined
more closely before it is possible to identify exactly which types
of teaching staff are required to address any shortfall.
Vacancies here refer to advertised vacancies
for full-time appointments of at least one term's duration. Vacancy
rates refer to vacancies as a percentage of teachers in post which
includes full-time regular teachers in (or on secondment from)
maintained schools, plus the full-time regular divided service,
peripatetic, remedial centre and miscellaneous teachers. It is
important to be aware that an alternative definition of "vacancies"
is sometimes used. This counts "vacancies" as posts
that have not been filled three months after they were first advertised.
This is, perhaps, more in line with the conventional use of the
term and the confusion of the two definitions may have lead to
misinterpretations of the teacher supply situation in the media.
2.2.1 Vacancies in England and Wales
Table 2.1 shows the vacancy rates for teachers
in secondary schools in England and Wales, disaggregated by subject.
The vacancy rates represent the proportion of unfilled, full-time
equivalent (FTE) posts for each subject, expressed as a percentage.
Vacancy data were available as frequencies only for 2001. However,
the data for this year allow a judgement to be made regarding
the scale of vacancy rates in absolute terms. For example, in
2001, careers was the subject area with the highest vacancy rate,
at 4%. But this represented a recruitment shortfall of only nine
teachers, because the absolute number of careers teachers required
is small compared to other subjects. In contrast, figures for
the same year show a vacancy rate of just 1.5% in sciences, representing
407 unfilled vacancies. As these examples illustrate, where possible,
frequencies must be used in conjunction with the vacancy rates
to interpret the actual scale of the phenomenon they represent.
The most obvious trend shown in Table 2.1 is
the increase in the overall vacancy rate in England and Wales,
combined, by more than a factor of three (from 0.4% in 1997 to
1.4% in 2001). In terms of individual subjects, all vacancy rates
were higher in 2001 than they had been in 1997. However, not all
subject area vacancy rates rose each year. Vacancy rates in maths
and sciences, the subject areas with the highest numbers of vacancies,
rose each year, as did those for IT. There are other subjects,
notably English and languages, that also have relatively high
numbers of vacancies, but not year-on-year rises in vacancy rates.
Both of these subject areas experienced a fall in vacancy rates
between 1998 and 1999, rising again in the following two years.
Vacancy rates fell in five other subjects (geography, religious
education, design technology and careers) between 1998 and 1999.
VACANCY RATES (%) FOR CLASSROOM TEACHERS
IN SECONDARY SCHOOLS, BY SUBJECT, ENGLAND AND WALES, JANUARY 1997
TO JANUARY 2001
|Art, craft or design||0.2
Source: DfES annual 618G survey and NAfW annual Stats3
Note: Data for 1996 was available but, as the method of calculating
vacancy rates changed in 1997, it was omitted.
2.2.2 Vacancies in England
In England the lowest level of teacher vacancies in the last
decade was experienced between 1992 and 2000, after a period of
very high vacancies between 1985 and 1990. The much talked about
impending "crisis" was in fact the rise between 1995
and 2001, to its highest level since 1990. However, the growth
in vacancies started from a low level, climbed slowly at first
before rising rapidly in 2000. Up until this year, however, vacancies
were still well below levels witnessed in the late 1908s (see
Between 1998 and 2001 teacher numbers rose by 3.9% while
pupil numbers increased by 5.1%, and this period saw one of the
most dramatic increase in teacher vacancies, from 970 to 2,590rising
by 267% over a three year period. It was only in 2002 that teacher
vacancies started to ease, falling to 2,440. This was in part
due to the narrowing of the gap between teacher and pupil numbers.
Pupil numbers increased by 2.5% between 2000 and 2002 while teacher
numbers increased by almost 4%. The related issue of pupil:teacher
ratios is discussed in detail later.
2.2.3 Variation between School Types
Table 2.2 suggests that finding teachers is more of a problem
for some kinds of secondary schools than others. One explanation
for this is that there is variation in the perceived desirability
of working in each of these types of institution. Secondary modern
schools have the highest vacancy rate, whilst independent (fee-paying)
schools have the lowest. The former may still suffer from being
viewed as a "second class" institution type, a hang-over
from the days of the tri-partite system of secondary education,
and the latter have traditionally been seen as "high status"
(although the reality may differ somewhat from public perceptions:
see Gorard, 1997).
UNFILLED VACANCIES BY SCHOOL TYPE, ENGLAND AND WALES,
|Sixth form colleges||12%
Source: STRB (2002)
2.2.4 Geographical Variation
Although secondary vacancy rates in England and Wales had
risen from 0.3% in 1995 to 1.4% in 2001, rates for Wales increased
at a much slower rate from 0.2% to 0.5% (STRB 2002). All economic
regions of England reported an increase in vacancy rates between
1995 and 2001, the biggest increase being in London, the South-East
and the East of England (STRB 2001). Table 2.3 shows that the
problem is most obviously one for London.
UNFILLED VACANCIES BY REGION, ENGLAND AND WALES, 2001
Source: STRB (2002)
In 1999 there were 16,000 trained teachers registered as
seeking work, many more unemployed but not receiving Jobseeker's
Allowance, and more again in other employment who would prefer
to be teaching (TES 2002). Therefore, the problem of vacancies,
in so far as there is one, is of regional and subject dispersion,
rather than total numbers.
2.3 Teacher Numbers and Pupil Numbers
The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified teachers
in England increased from 161,200 to 232,500 from 1970 to 1980.
This growth corresponded with an increase in pupil numbers from
approximately 2.9 million to 3.9 million (DfEE Bulletin, 2000).
Between 1985 and 1998 the number of full-time secondary school
teachers in England and Wales fell by 21% (Social Trends 30, 2000)
from 237 thousand to 188 thousand. From 1980 onwards pupil numbers
also declined to 2.85 million in 1991, the lowest level since
1970. They increased to 3.26 million by 2002, at the same time
as a marked increase in teacher numbers. This is significant because,
as teacher demand is determined in part by the target pupil:teacher
ratio, in order to maintain the existing pupil:teacher ratios
more teachers were needed. This explains the increasing teacher
vacancies, and perhaps the beginning of the recent "crisis".
Since 1999, however, the growth rate of teachers has been greater
than that for pupils (see below) and the number of pupils has
been predicted to decline over the next 10 years. It would seem
that, in spite of what the media may have portrayed, teacher numbers
in 2000 were not at their lowest ever level (Slater, 2000a).
2.4 Pupil:teacher ratios
Figure 2.3 shows the Pupil:teacher ratios (PTRs) for primary
and secondary schools in England from 1947 to 2002. As Smithers
and Robinson (1991) note, from the mid-1950s until the late 1980s
(the latest point for which they have data) the PTR, calculated
from aggregate data, decreased steadily, on almost a year-on-year
basis. From 1990, however, the PTR began to increase until, after
reaching a mini-peak in 2000, falling for two consecutive years.
Adapted from: DfES, (2002a). NB Data collected in January
However, the average PTRs tell us nothing about the size
of actual classes. By its very nature aggregate data disguises
variation within the system. The DfES (2002a, p 7) also caution
that "while the number of teachers employed relative to the
number of pupils enrolled will have an affect on class sizes,
not all teachers will necessarily be in the classroom at any one
time." (DfES, 2002a, p 7). Smithers and Robinson (1991, p
103) note that although class size is an important issue in relation
to the staffing of schools, it is not ". . . principally
a teacher supply problem. It is, in part, a matter of policy,
and, in part, a management problem to be resolved by management
action". Solutions to any perceived "problems"
with teacher recruitment and retention do not necessarily have
to come from the "supply" end of the equation. Changing
the organisation of schooling can have more direct impacts on
the requirements (or "demand") of the system itself
Average PTRs in English secondary schools increased annually
from 15.3 (at its lowest) in 1991 to 17.2 (the highest in 25 years)
in 2000, before falling to 16.9 in 2002. However, all of these
scores are lower than the highest pupil:teacher ratio in secondary
schools, which was 21.8 pupils for every teacher in 1948. Comparative
data collected by the OECD (2000) shows that average secondary
PTRs in the UK (16.9) in 1998 were lower than many other developed
countries, such as Canada (22.1), New Zealand (21), Korea (22.8)
and the Netherlands (18.5).
In reality, it is difficult to say when there may be a teacher
shortage because the two commonly used indicators of teacher supply
(PTRs and teacher vacancies) may not move in the same direction
(see Figure 2.4). For example, when teacher vacancies were highest,
in 1989 and 1990, PTR was lowest at 15.3 pupils for every teacher.
The common perception at that time was that there was a severe
teacher shortage, if not a crisis. In contrast, PTRs increased
from 15.3 to 16.5 between 1990 and 1995, coinciding with the period
of lowest teacher vacancies. Although PTRs were high, the perception
was that there was no shortage of teachers.
The 2002 data show that areas with higher teacher vacancy
figures, such as Inner and Outer London and the South-east, operate
with correspondingly low pupil:teacher ratios, and areas with
low teacher vacancies, such as North-east and South-west England,
operate with higher ratios. As PTRs do not necessarily reflect
the deployment of teachers within schools (DfES Statistical First
Release, 2002a paragraph 5), some commentators believe that class
sizes are a better indicator of teacher shortages. In England,
average class sizes in secondary schools increased from 20.7 pupils
in 1990 to 22.2 in 2000, before falling slightly to 22.0 in 2002,
roughly in line with PTRs.
There is significant regional variation in class size, with
Inner London and the South-East having larger class sizes than
other areas of the UK. At first glance it seems reasonable to
expect these schools to have larger class sizes, because they
had been widely accepted as having the highest teacher vacancies
and experiencing the most difficulties filling them. Close analysis,
however, revealed that these schools had more teachers than schools
in other regions (Slater 2002). By contrast, the East of England
and the East Midlands had smaller classes than would be expected
given the staffing levels. For example, one school had the lowest
PTR in the country, but was ranked only 63rd by class size, whilst
a neighbouring school ranked 18th on PTR and 16th on class size.
According to the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of
Women Teachers (NASUWT), the gap between class sizes and staffing
in similar authorities occurred because "teachers were doing
less teaching and more administration" (Slater 2002). This
is clearly an administrative or management issue rather than a
policy or demographic problem.
4. TEACHER RECRUITMENT
3.1 Recruitment to Initial Teacher Education and Training
There is no problem with recruitment to BEd courses, with
institutions regularly exceeding their targets (see full report).
Therefore, what follows focus on recruitment via postgraduate
routes. Figure 3.1 shows applications for PGCE courses in the
UK, for the years 1994 to 2001. This first important point is
that between these years both applications and acceptances have
experienced a net gain. Applications rose from 32,389 in 1994
to 40,895 in 2001.
In the same period (1994 to 2001), acceptances rose from
17,733 to 22,223 with the lowest point being 17,209 in 1995. As
can be seen in Table 3.1, they do not appear to follow a particular
trend, nor are they related to the total number of applications.
In the period studied, acceptance rates remained between 51% and
59%, ending up, in 2001, 1% lower than the 1994 rate.
PERCENTAGE OF ACCEPTED APPLICANTS
Source: Adapted from GTTR (2001, 2002)
At the UK level, many more female than male students apply
to take PGCE courses. In 1994, for example, 20,236 applications
were made by females compared to only 12,153 by males. Table 3.2
reveals that the percentage of female applications increased from
62% in 1994 to 68% in 2001. Thus, in addition to the general trend
of a rise in applications over the period studied, it is also
the case that the proportion of female applicants rose
PERCENTAGE OF FEMALE PGCE APPLICANTS (UK)
Source: GTTR (2001, 2002)
In every GTTR age category apart from "51+", female
applicants significantly out-numbered males, particularly in the
younger age groups (Figure 3.2).
Figure 3.3 shows that younger applicants not only account
for a disproportionate number of applications but also have a
more favourable acceptance rate. This has implications
for any strategies aimed at ameliorating short-term imbalances
in the age profile of the teaching profession. There is a substantial
number of applicants in their thirties. However, it is important
to note that of 5,954 applicants aged 31-40 (not counting those
who withdrew) 2,273 did not get allocated PGCE places, whereas
that it is teachers of this precisely age who are under-represented
in the profession as a whole. Policy makers wishing to increase
the number of teachers in the maintained sector may be advised
to investigate the (low) acceptance rates for applicants of this
age on PGCE courses, and also to examine comparable data for ITET
First Degree courses.
It may be the case that, for example, older applicants tend
generally to have lower qualifications or less desirable curricula
vitae than younger ones. However, this may have more to do
with historical circumstances than suitability for teacher training.
Indeed, higher education institutions often apply different entry
criteria to mature applicants wishing to study on undergraduate
courses. If policy makers wish to redress the imbalanced age profile
of the teaching population, a thorough investigation into this
issue would be a good place to start.
3.2 Recruitment Targets
Another indication of success (or otherwise) in teacher recruitment
is the extent to which the Government's targets are met (House
of Commons 1997, Vol I, para 13). In 2001-02 recruitment showed
a significant improvement on the previous academic year. Recruitment
rose in all subjects with the exception of Welsh, art and religious
education (STRB 2002). However, for most subjects the intake was
still below the targets (see Figure 3.4).
The intake targets for maths, science and technology had
previously been revised downwards, even though vacancies for these
subjects had been increasing. In maths, for example, the target
was reduced from 2,700 in 1996 to 1,691 in 1997. This represented
a drop of approximately 40%, even though only 65.6% of the target
was met in 1996. In 1997, despite the huge reduction, only 62.9%
of the revised target was met. It was not until 2000 that intake
targets for these subjects were raised.
The reduction in intake targets was implemented against the
backdrop of an increasing student population in secondary schools,
rising pupil:teacher ratios and increased teacher vacancies. The
number of full-time equivalent (FTE) pupils in secondary maintained
schools in England and Wales had risen from 3.24 million in 1997
to 3.5 million in 2002 (STRB 2002). DfEE and Welsh Office projections
show that the number is likely to increase to 3.56 million by
the year 2005 (School Teachers' Review Body, 2001).
There are also important questions about how intake targets
were set, even though DfEE had published an explanatory paper
on the model and assumptions they used in setting targets. There
were suggestions that the targets were actually based upon how
many new teachers could be afforded, rather than on actual demand
(House of Commons 1997a, 1997b). The reduction of targets in 1996
and 1997, in the face of rising pupil numbers, was seen by some
as indicative of the lack of government confidence in increasing
the number of teachers. In reality, however, this reduction was
an effort to undo the "mistake" made in 1995 where there
was an unexplained, and perhaps unwarranted, upward revision of
targets (House of Commons 1997a, Vol I, para 15). The indicative
targets for 1997, issued in 1994, appeared to be in line with
the long-term trend. If the long-term projection for 1997 had
been considered there might not have been the controversial reduction
in targets in 1996 and 1997.
Taken in perspective, however, the scale of the targets appear
challenging. To achieve the PGCE secondary maths intake target
for 2001-02, for example, would mean recruiting nearly half of
all maths students graduating in 2001 (STRB 2001). According to
the then Secretary of State for Education, four out of ten maths
graduates would need to become teachers if existing training targets
were to be met, and to aim higher might not be practicable (Howson
2001a, 2001b). Similarly, to meet PGCE targets in modern foreign
languages and RE, over 40% of the UK graduate output in these
subjects would be needed each year (Schoolsnet 2001). So the problem
is more than the perceived unattractiveness of teaching as a career
or poor pay, for example. The issue is that the number of people
being taught to graduate level in these shortage subjects is relatively
low. Taking into account the fact that the teaching profession
must compete with other industries recruiting graduates, the number
entering ITET in recent years might be considered to be healthy.
According to the Teachers' Training Agency (TTA), more than two-thirds
of employers had difficulty recruiting graduates of the right
calibre between 2000 and 2001 (STRB 2002). The problem was particularly
acute among organisations recruiting maths and science graduates.
It would seem, then, that the teaching profession might not be
experiencing specific recruitment difficulties, but only those
affecting graduate employers more widely.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA),
between 1997 and 2001 the number of graduates (including postgraduates,
first degree and other undergraduates) increased from 431.9 thousand
to 470.3 thousand (an increase of 8.9%). Graduations from the
physical sciences, engineering and technology, in contrast, declined
by approximately 10%, while mathematical science graduates showed
an increase of 10% during the same period (from 5,000 in 1997
to 5,500 in 2001). There are several issues here. One is that
the number of graduates in shortage subjects is not increasing
fast enough to cope with the increasing demands of the labour
market in general. The second is the reluctance of these graduates
to go into teaching, and the third is the difficulty in getting
students to opt for these subjects at higher levels in school
In a report reviewing the supply of scientists for the Treasury,
it was found that school children had greater difficulty in getting
high marks in science and maths than for other subjects (Canovan
2002). One of the reasons was the "parlous state" of
science teaching in schools described in the report. The report
also found that, to protect their league table positions, some
schools were discouraging their students from doing "hard"
science subjects at A-level. In the words of the House of Commons
Science and Technology Committee Chairman: "School science
can be so boring it puts young people off science for life. The
Committee also remarked that GCSE coursework was "boring
and pointless" and "stultifying". It added that
"it kills the interest which may have been kindled at primary
school" (Canovan, 2002, p 6). This may contribute to a spiral
effect because if science teaching was not up to standard, the
number of students going on to do science at A-level or degree
level might decline. With fewer graduates in a competitive job
market, the proportion going into teaching with good degree results
is likely to be affected.
Some have argued that recruitment to PGCE courses is closely
related to the peaks and troughs in new graduate unemployment,
and that the current teacher supply "crisis" is due
to high employment in the economy making it difficult to recruit
graduates (Schoolsnet 2001). However, even if overall teaching
recruitment targets were met, there would still be shortages in
some regions. This is because the DfEE (as it then was) did not
take into consideration regional differences in its calculation
of recruitment targets. According to the DfEE "the number
of teachers needed, minus the number in post and those known to
be returning to teaching, will give the number to be trained nationally"
(Dean 2000a, p 4). A report by the Education Management Information
Exchange at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER)
suggested this calculus might be partly responsible for the continued
teacher shortages in some regions because "such a view seems
to assume that those trained teachers will fill automatically
the teaching vacancies wherever they appear. The regional data
suggest otherwise" (Dean 2000b).
3.3 Wastage Rates
The number of teachers who leave the service include those
who retire, those who resign due to ill-health, to seek alternative
employment, to look after young children or for other reasons.
This includes both "wastage" and "turnover"
rates. The definitions adopted here are those used by the School
Teachers' Review Body (STRB 2002). Wastage is defined as teachers
who leave full-time service in the maintained sector during the
school year. Some of these may not leave teaching at all, but
either continue into part-time service, move to the further or
higher education sectors, or teach in fee-paying institutions.
Turnover is defined as teachers in full-time service in the maintained
sector but who are not in full-time service in the same establishment
the following year. It constitutes all retirements, resignations,
and includes "wastage" and transfers to other institutions
within the sector. Because teachers must resign from their post
before they can take up another, it means that, theoretically,
turnover rates can increase although the number of teachers remains
Until 1998, the number of teachers leaving full-time service
in England and Wales was consistently higher than the number who
entered. In 1997-98, 37,700 left while 34,700 entered service.
From 1998 onwards, despite an increasing number of teachers leaving
full-time service, inflows have been higher than outflows. In
England, in 1999-2000, the number of full-time qualified teachers
who left the secondary maintained sector was 11,600 and the corresponding
inflow was 13,500 (DfEE data includes England only from 1999-2000
onwards). One reason is that the increase in outflow was due to
a higher number of people moving from full-time service to part-time
service. According to the STRB figures on England and Wales, there
was also an increase in the number of teachers who have moved
to schools in other LEAs or non-LEA institutions (see below).
This may explain why the popular perception runs counter to that
of the Government's. In other words, an increasing number of teachers
were leaving schools, but not necessarily the profession. Many
were still in teaching.
Figure 3.5 shows the "wastage rate" for full-time
teachers in England and Wales. Unfortunately, information relating
only to Wales could not be located, nor could data expressed as
frequencies. This definition of "wastage" can be misleading,
as it runs counter to popular uses of the term. Teachers moving
to the further or higher education sectors, and to fee-paying
schools, are counted as "wastage". It is unlikely, however,
that students in such institutions (or their parents) would define
them as such. In the case of employment in post-16 institutions,
teachers are merely moving from one sector of state-funded education
to another. Although independent schools are not state-funded,
they could be argued to be providing a public service and teachers
working in these institutions are responsible for the education
of a substantial proportion of UK-domiciled pupils.
It should be noted that the data are accompanied by the following
warning, specifying that "the wastage rate for those aged
50+ in 1997 and 1998 reflects the increase in early retirements
brought about by changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme in April
1997 and September 1997. The subsequent decrease in early retirements
resulted in a much lower wastage rate in 1999".
There are no particularly remarkable trends in the data for
wastage rates for the years 1990-91 to 2000-01. The wastage rate
in 1997-98 (10.3%) is only marginally higher than in 1990-91 (10.2%).
Although the proportion of teachers leaving the profession rises
year by year from 1992-93 to 1997-98, the change in pensions legislation
affecting figures in 1998-99 obscures the extent to which this
may, or may not, have continued over the following two years.
The effect of the above mentioned policy change can be seen more
clearly when the data is disaggregated by age group.
What is interesting is the extent to which the wastage rates
between the nursery and primary, and secondary sectors are correlated
(r = 0.815). There are many reasons why it would be reasonable
to expect differences in wastage rates between (as well as within)
sectors. Working conditions vary according to age of pupils taught
and at an aggregate level the social and educational backgrounds
of teachers varies, in certain respects, according to the sector
they are employed in. What is unclear, however, is why the changes
in wastage rates for the two sectors tends to be in the same direction
over the course of any given year, and why such a high correlation
exists between both the direction and magnitude of the changes.
This, perhaps, suggests the influence of factors affecting the
whole teaching profession or, alternatively, could be an artefact
of the data collection and analysis processes used by the DfES.
It is clear that, overall, the total number of resignations
from permanent full-time positions in LEA schools has increased
1994-2001. This, however, does not mean that more teachers are
leaving the profession, as the data includes those taking up employment
in institutions similar to the ones they left. Indeed, increased
turnover of this type may be considered reflective of a healthy
internal labour market. If the proportion of teachers in the latter
group remains constant there will be no net losses. The greater
the turnover the higher the vacancy rate will appear in any snapshot.
However, high turnover and vacancy rates do not necessarily have
direct implications for how difficult posts are to fill, or to
As Figure 3.6 shows, since 1994 the most popular destination
of resigning teachers has been a post in an LEA school within
the compulsory sector. Retirement and maternity are the second
most popular destinations, although the former accounts for many
more resignations than does the latter (see below) and were previously
(from 1994 to 1997) the most popular destination. The change in
pensions legislation, mentioned earlier, may be responsible for
the change in this trend. And it should also be considered that
those teachers resigning to raise children may return to the profession
at a later date, whilst those who retire are less likely to. Leaving
the teaching profession altogether is the next most prevalent
career choice, followed by taking a teaching post in a non-LEA
A large majority of resignations, then, are accounted for
by moving from one teaching post to another in a similar institution,
or by "natural" wastage due to retirement or maternity.
Total resignation and turnover rates can, thus, give a misleading
impression of the state of teacher supply. Those teachers moving
from their present school to a similar one do not, presumably,
present a major problem for the profession. Retirements, whether
due to ill-health or reaching the normal retirement age are usually
unavoidable, as is maternity. It is only resignations leading
to other kinds of outcome that can be considered subject to any
strategies to increase retention.
Amongst resigning teachers who moved to positions outside
LEA schools but within the UK education system, the most common
destination, for every year between 1994 and 2001, was an independent
(fee-paying) school. In 1994 only 43% (430 of 1,010) of resignations
leading to employment in non-LEA institutions were those taking
posts in the independent sector, but by 2001 this had risen to
67% (1,200 of 1,780) (Table 3.3).
DESTINATIONS, BY SECTOR, OF LEA FULL-TIME PERMANENT RESIGNING
TEACHERS, 1994 TO 2001: (b) THOSE CONTINUING TO TEACH IN THE UK
|Sixth form college||7
Source: adapted from Employers' Organisation (2002, Table
3.6 Teacher quality
There have been concerns that "insufficient high quality
entrants were being attracted in comparison to other professions"
and "the quality of entrants was low in shortage subject
areas" (House of Commons, 1997a; BBC News, 2001). In a survey
by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), seven out
of ten vacancies in secondary schools in a London authority had
been filled by people without the necessary qualifications (Levenson,
2001). The shortage in teachers was affecting the quality of teachers,
especially those in the shortage subject areas. According to a
TES report, only a quarter of Key Stage 3 teachers had maths qualifications,
and up to 45% teaching 11-14 year olds had limited knowledge of
maths and little or no training. Many of the teachers did not
study the subject beyond A-level (Henry and Thornton, 2001). The
dependence on supply teachers also had serious implications on
the quality of lessons delivered. About 25% of lessons taught
by supply teachers were regarded as unsatisfactory (House of Commons
2000). This was likely to have a spiral effect as sixth-form drop-out
rates were reported to have worsened. In physics, one-third of
the teachers did not have a physics degree while another third
had not even passed physics A-level (Canovan and Ward, 2002).
There were also concerns that some schools were discouraging students
from doing "hard" sciences at A-level, meaning fewer
students could take these subjects at degree level. And fewer
graduates means fewer teachers with the required qualifications.
Teacher supply is not just about numbers; it is also about
quality. DfEE figures showed that in England and Wales, between
1990 and 2000, the proportion of students completing PGCEs with
a first or second class degree had increased from 82.3% to 91.7%
(DfEE 2000, DfEE 2002b). But this was in line with the overall
rise in the proportion of students obtaining these degree classes
over the same period.
TTA figures (for England only) showed that the proportion
of secondary maths PGCE students with 2:1 or better increased
from 33% in 1996-97 to 37% in 1998-99 (TTA Performance Profiles
2000). However, Sir Steward Sutherland noted that entrants to
mathematics ITET courses were twice as likely than average to
have a third class degree or lower (House of Commons 1997a, para
49). For science the figures were slightly higher with 42% for
the 1998-99 cohort holding a 2:1 or better. For almost all subjects,
the proportion either remained the same or had improved slightly.
3.7 Gender, Age, Ethnicity and Disability
Between 1985 and 1998 the number of female full-time primary
teachers in England and Wales increased by 13% (from 134,000 to
151 thousand) while the number of male teachers declined by 21%.
Similarly, male full-time secondary teachers fell by more than
31% (to 88,000), but the number of female teachers also declined,
by 9%, with most of the decline among both sexes occurring during
the 1980s (Social Trends 30, 2000. p 53). Within a year the number
of teachers increased by 1,500 to 189,300. However, most of this
increase resulted from a rise in the number of women in the profession
(Social Trends 30, 2000). There was a corresponding drop in the
proportion of men in the sector (to 31%). This has important implications
for teacher supply, as women are more likely to take breaks in
their career for child-rearing. More importantly, there are proportionately
more men than women taking degrees in shortage subjects such as
maths, science and technology. Therefore, in order to increase
the number of teachers in these subjects, it is crucial to make
teaching attractive to men, or to encourage women to take maths,
science and technology at school and university.
The age profile of teachers in England and Wales in the year
2000 is shown in Figure 3.7. As can be seen the age groups containing
the largest proportions of the profession were 45-49 and 50-54
years. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that there are relatively
few teachers under the age of 25 as only those individuals who
enrolled on ITET courses almost immediately after leaving post-compulsory
or higher education would attain QTS and be able to enter the
profession before that age. As many young people take "gap"
years between the various stages of education they participate
in, and some individuals do not decide to enter the teaching profession
until later in life, the proportionally small representation of
under-25s in the profession as a whole should not necessarily
be interpreted as evidence of a recruitment problem. It is interesting,
however, that interviews with headteachers, conducted as part
of a major study in the late 1980s, revealed that ITET graduates
in this age group, preferably with a PGCE qualification, were
the applicants most sought after by those making appointments
(Smithers and Robinson, 1991).
Several plausible explanations for the small proportion of
teachers in the 55-59 and 60+ age brackets can also be provided.
Early retirement has been available to teachers for some time.
The relatively small number of teachers aged 55 and over, then,
may be predominantly accounted for by early retirements and/or
retirements due to ill-health (and the legislation on retirement
was changed in the late 1990s). What is less clear, however, is
the explanation for the proportion of teachers in the 30-34 and
35-39 age groups. These two groups, combined, account for only
slightly more than 20% of all teachers. This could, of course,
be accounted for by historical trends in recruitment to the profession
but, as previously mentioned, new entrants are not all graduates
in their twenties entering their first career. Some graduates
of ITET courses previously worked in other areas of the labour
market or may be mature entrants to higher education. The age
profile illustrated, then, is unlikely to be solely the product
of historical trends in the recruitment of new entrants to the
profession. Indeed, if all previous years showed a similar age
profile as the year 2000, the most obvious explanation for the
observed pattern would be teachers leaving the profession in their
thirties. A common explanation for leaving work during these years
is maternity and childrearing. The data offers some evidence to
support this, as, whilst the proportion of male teachers aged
25-29 is almost identical to those aged 30-34, the proportion
of female teachers in the 30-34 years category is much small than
that in the 25-29 years group. However, as the data is only a
"snapshot" of one year's distribution, it is an insufficient
basis on which to make any definitive conclusions.
Whatever explanation underlies the relative lack of teachers
in their thirties, it is, perhaps, paradoxical that it is applicants
to ITET courses of this age that are, proportionally, the least
likely to be offered training places. If the imbalance in the
age profile of the teaching profession is perceived to be a problem,
the reasons for the imbalance in acceptance rates onto ITET courses
for this age group would be a productive area of investigation.
Strategies could then be introduced, perhaps, to ensure that more
applicants from this age group are accepted onto ITET. It may
be the case that the entrance requirements for ITET are not as
flexible for "mature" entrants as for many other undergraduate
courses and that access could be widened in this respect. This
would not, of course, ensure that these trainees eventually enter
the profession (or even complete the training) but it may increase
the number who get the opportunity to do so.
3.8 What are the limits to recruitment?
Although pay may not be the main factor putting people off
teaching, it certainly is an important factor. Teacher unions
have repeatedly asserted that teachers' salaries compare unfavourably
with average graduate starting salaries in other sectors of the
economy. The Smithers and Robinson report (Schoolsnet 2001), commissioned
by the National Union of Teachers, noted that the starting salary
for teachers with a good honours degree (£16,000) did not
compare well with many other graduate occupations, which averaged
at £18,300. The authors recommended that teachers' salaries
be made more attractive and competitive, with salaries starting
at between £20,000 and £22,000 for teachers in state
schools, and with heads of department earning a maximum of £40,000.
Dissatisfaction with salaries was also linked to recent changes
in the profession. According to Smithers
It looks as if many (teachers) have got ground down
by the changes in the profession. One of the arguments on better
salary was that people had gone into teaching as a vocation, and
it has become a much more industrial process where they (teachers)
were judged by output. If the criteria and targets of industry
were going to be applied to them (teachers), they were looking
for a commensurate salary.
(from: Naylor and Schaefer 2002, p 1)
Higher salaries were justified, it was argued, because they
could bring about higher quality education and thus make teaching
more pleasurable and rewarding. However, the salary figures used
by the NUT and the Smithers and Robinson report were from the
Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). The AGR's figures were
based on better qualified graduates, on special recruitment programmes,
with major graduate employers (National Employers' Organisation
for School Teachers 2001). These graduates accounted for only
one in eight of all graduates entering employment. In other words
the figures used by the AGR overstated the average salaries of
new graduates. Moreover, the starting salary for teachers quoted
by the unions were based on figures outside London, while the
figures used by the AGR (which the unions used as evidence for
the disparity) were based primarily on average starting salaries
among London-based employers (STRB, 2001; National Employers'
Organisation for School Teachers, 2001).
Other salary surveys, such as those conducted by Barclays
Bank and by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit, indicated
that graduates were entering a widening range of jobs with many
employers who were not AGR members. These graduates were often
on salaries more than £2,000 below the figures used by the
AGR (STRB, 2001). The selective nature of the statistics used
by the unions on graduate pay progression thus maximised the gap
between the pay of "graduates generally" and the pay
of teachers (National Employers' Organisation, 2001).
Another discrepancy in the teachers unions' submission was
the use of two different data sources in their comparison of teachers'
pay. The unions compared teachers' earnings from the Review Body's
survey with those of non-manual earnings data from the New Earnings
Survey. It would make more sense to use data from the same source
which used the same methodology. Using the same data source, it
was found that teachers' earnings were actually 110% of the average
non-manual earnings for the year 2000. In fact, compared to non-manual
earnings teachers' earnings were higher in 2000 than at any time
between 1982 and 1990 (National Employers' Organisation, 2001).
The National Employers' Organisation condemned the unions' submission
as misleading by not comparing like with like when comparing teachers'
pay with average earnings in the economy.
The number of teachers needed in a school is, in part, dependent
on how many teachers the school can afford. Table 3.4 shows how
funding per pupil in secondary maintained schools in England has
changed between 1995-96 and 1999-2000. Funding per pupil had fallen
between 1996 and 1997, the period of lowest teacher vacancies.
From 1997-2002 pupil funding continued to increase. This coincided
with the period when teacher vacancies started to rise.
CHANGES IN FUNDING PER PUPIL IN ENGLAND 1995-96 TO 1999-2000
|Real-terms index (%)||100
Source: DfES (2002) Departmental Annual Report
In a memorandum submitted to the House of Commons Education
and Employment Committee (House of Commons, 1997, Appendix 15),
it was found that in 1996 and 1997, when there was a budgetary
cut, 36.7% of schools surveyed reported having to reduce staffing
with 43.6% saying they may have to do so the following year. It
was calculated that such reductions amount to a loss of 0.7 teachers
per school. Funding per pupil has been recognised as one of the
reasons for the current increase in demand for teachers. In May
2001 a response to the Select Committee on Education and Employment
Minutes of Evidence stated:
It is true that there is increased demand for teachers
and in fact extra money which is in the system is being used to
create extra posts. Compared with last year it has created 7,700
extra teaching posts and that is part of the reason why demand
for teachers is increasing
(House of Commons, 2001, para 40).
Another alternative explanation for the decline in teacher
vacancies in the early 1990s is school numbers. Interestingly,
the period between 1991 and 1995 coincided with the early impact
of the Education Reform Act in 1988, which saw the introduction
of policies such as school choice and pupil-led funding. These
policies were partly an attempt to reduce surplus places in some
schools. By closing very small schools with surplus places and
transferring children to other schools, there was greater efficiency
in the deployment of staff, since these teachers are likely to
be in larger schools with a higher pupil:teacher ratio (Fidler
et al, 1993). The policies resulted in the merger and closure
of schools. The result is fewer schools. Fewer, but larger, schools
led to fewer teacher vacancies year-on-year from 1990-96. However,
after 1996, as the number of schools continued to decline, teacher
vacancies increased. Two factors were at play here. One was that
the decline in the number of schools in England slowed down (Figure
3.8), the other was the increase in pupil funding. Looking at
Table 3.4, it can be seen that from 1997-98 onwards expenditure
per pupil (including spending on teaching and non-teaching staff
salaries), increased every year, and the biggest increase was
between 1999-2000 and 2000-01. This perhaps explains the sudden
surge in teacher vacancies over the same period. Between 2000
and 2001, the rate of decline in the number of schools increased
again, partly explaining the drop in teacher vacancies in 2002.
This re-analysis of national secondary statistics relating
to teacher recruitment and teaching vacancies serves to remind
us that the dominant contemporary discourse is based on a partial
account. There are more trained teachers in service today in England
and Wales than there have ever been, and teaching vacancies are
only a fraction of what they were in the late 1980s and early
1990s. There are proportionately more vacancies in some areas
than others, but these are chiefly in inverse proportion to the
operational level of local pupil:teacher ratios. Areas with higher
vacancy figures, such as Inner London, operate with correspondingly
low pupil:teacher ratios, and areas with low vacancies, such as
South West England, operate with higher ratios. In fact, regression
analysis shows that variation in teacher vacancies over time is
almost entirely explicable in terms of school closures (See 2001).
After the reforms of the 1980s many schools in England and Wales
were closed to reduce surplus places in the system (even though
pupil numbers had begun to rise again). Fewer, but larger, schools
inevitably led to fewer teacher vacancies year-on-year from 1990-1996.
Since 1997, more recent policy changes relating to diversity and
class sizes have meant that the number of schools began to rise
in proportion to the size of the relevant age cohorts. Simultaneously,
teacher vacancies also rose (but nowhere near the level of 1990
as yet). It is this rise that lies at the heart of the current
Another policy measure affecting teacher supply is the proposal
for a greater degree of school-based teacher training (Fidler
et al, 1993). Gilroy (1998) argued that this move away from a
university-based teacher education was an important cause of the
recruitment "crisis" experienced in the recent years.
He explained that by handing over the one-year secondary initial
teacher education course to schools, at least 80% of students'
time would be school-basedan equivalent to four days per
week. This would mean a "considerable shift of funds"
from universities and colleges to the schools (Clarke, 1992).
An important consequence of this change in policy was a substantial
increase in the cost of initial teacher education (Gilroy, 1998).
Teachers, on the other hand, were concerned that they were spending
too much time with student teachers at the expense of the school
children. Consequently some schools withdrew their partnership
with their universities. This started a chain of events whereby
students might apply to courses but were rejected because no schools
could be found to place them for the school-based training. There
could also be a situation where students are accepted only for
the school to withdraw a partnership later on. If a school cannot
be found for the students to carry out their school-based component
of the course, the university must withdraw their offer to the
students (Gilroy, 1998). The net results are fewer universities
running initial teacher education courses and fewer students that
can be accepted on to courses.
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