A recent analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) reveals a concerning trend in teacher vacancies across English local authorities, with nearly nine in ten areas experiencing a rise since 2010.

The study highlights the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis in the education sector, exacerbated by falling pay and increasing workloads.

According to the TUC analysis, teacher vacancies surged in 86% of English local authorities over the past decade, with only 7% showing any improvement. This trend coincides with England having one of the poorest pupil-to-teacher ratios in the OECD, indicating significant strain on the education system.

Retention Crisis and Workload Concerns

Despite government targets, the Department for Education has consistently fallen short in recruiting an adequate number of teachers. In 2023, recruitment targets for key subjects such as physics, total science, and maths were missed by substantial margins, exacerbating the shortage of qualified educators.

The TUC warns of a retention crisis, with a third of newly qualified teachers leaving the profession within five years. Excessive workloads and real-terms pay cuts have contributed to this exodus, with teachers experiencing a £172 per week decrease in pay since 2010. Additionally, teachers are more likely to engage in regular unpaid overtime compared to other professions, further highlighting the strain on the workforce.

Education leaders and union representatives have called for urgent government intervention to address the recruitment and retention crisis. They emphasise the need for improved pay, better working conditions, and increased investment in schools to ensure quality education for all students. Without meaningful reform, the education system risks further deterioration, impacting educators and students alike.

NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman said, “The government has failed to hit its recruitment targets – and this is damaging our children’s education.

“Teachers and leaders are managing alarming gaps in every part of education. This is fuelled by a collapse in graduates going into teacher training, more recently qualified teachers quitting, and experienced teachers preferring to leave the profession rather than take on the responsibility of the leadership.

“To attract and retain top talent, teaching must become a competitive profession with better pay, improved conditions, and reduced workload. Our children’s education depends on it.”