teacher shortage pisa

Teacher shortage affects learning say 45 per cent of headteachers in England, compared to OECD average of 30 per cent

Almost half of students in England are taught in schools where the headteacher says teaching is hampered by a shortage of staff, according to the latest results from an international survey.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s latest round of its Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) has revealed that 45 per cent of heads in England said they were either affected by a shortage of teachers “at least to some extent” or “a lot”.

This compares to an average of 30 per cent of headteachers among all OECD countries.

‘Ongoing crisis’

The results also reveal that 22 per cent of students in England were taught in classes where headteachers were concerned about inadequate or poorly qualified teaching staff.

“Schools are relentlessly focused on the job of driving up standards further,” said Leora Cruddas, director of policy at the Association of School and College Leaders. “A significant barrier to achieving that goal is the ongoing crisis in teacher recruitment and retention which is severely affecting the ability of schools to recruit specialist staff in science, maths, English and other key subjects. Today’s report provides yet more evidence of the scale of this problem, showing that many headteachers in England believe staff shortages are hindering learning.”

The Pisa findings come hot on the heels of a series of similar reports into teacher supply in England. The Ofsted annual report last week highlighted the difficulties schools were having in retaining teachers – with 1 in 10 leaving the profession between November 2014 and November 2015, the highest for 10 years. It said that a lack of government data on recruitment and retention at local issues was hindering the national response to this issue.

Falling short

And last month, Department for Education statistics revealed that government fell short of the number of trainees it needs to recruit to initial teacher training in September 2016 in every secondary subject apart from geography, biology, history and PE.

A DfE spokesperson said: “Figures published recently show teaching continues to be an attractive career. This year, we reached 89 per cent of our secondary recruitment target, an increase on 82 per cent last year, and 100 per cent of the primary target.

“But we recognise that there are challenges, which is why we are spending more than £1.3 billion over this Parliament, including on bursaries and grants, so we can continue to attract the brightest and best into teaching.”