The crisis of teacher recruitment and the heavy requirement on supply staff was again highlighted this week in the press.

MPs have been discussing the need for a long-term strategy to address staff shortages whether that be caused by recruitment or absence. According to The Education Select Committee report, the Department for Education has missed its recruitment target for teachers every year for the past five years and supply costs have increased by 20% over the last three years. The committee also highlighted that the NAO reported an 11% increase between 2011 and 2014 in teachers leaving the profession*.

Their report asked for a cap to be considered on teaching hours to encourage teachers to remain in the profession. Within the Committee’s report they stated that, in a recent survey, the EPI found teachers in England work an average of 48.2 hours per week, 19% longer than the average in other countries and third highest overall**. While there are many reasons teachers leave the profession, the report quoted a survey carried out by the Association for Teachers and Lecturers that stated that “76% of the NQT respondents say they have considered leaving teaching because their workload is too high”***. Working long hours can often contribute to increased levels of stress and illness absence.

At SAM, we see the benefit of monitoring trends of illness and absences to address any issues early that may otherwise ultimately mean that teacher leaves the profession. While we appreciate there is a recruitment crisis, there are ways to make sure that you are maintaining and supporting your current workforce and reducing supply costs overall. Here are some of our considerations:

  • Track absence by category so that you can identify trends and respond with supportive action before it is too late
  • Provide wellbeing and occupational health support so that staff receive the level of help they need quickly to overcome any issues
  • Speak to staff regularly and check workloads
  • Make sure all staff are aware of the level of support available and the absence process
  • Consider offering flexible working to encourage teachers to stay in education
  • Track your absences with the aim to reduce the need for supply cover. The strain is felt on the whole teaching unit when one person is off which can lead to further absences
  • Proactively managing absences so you know when fit notes run out and when return to work meetings are due and save wasting any time, which could save an extra day of supply costs

SAM can help track absences and highlight trends to be addressed and may also therefore help to increase retention, reducing the need for supply cover. If you would like to speak to us about how SAM provides these detailed reports just give one of our team a call on 01924 827869. If you would like to read the Select Committee’s report click here.

Main Source –

*National Audit Office, Training New Teachers, HC 798 February 2016, p 8

**Education Policy Institute, Teacher workload and professional development in England’s secondary schools: insights from TALIS, October 2016, p 7

***Association for Teachers and Lecturers, (SOT 25), para 12

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