Education & Family

More unqualified teachers taking lessons, suggests research

Children at school
Image caption More pupils are being taught by unqualified staff, research suggests

More than one in 10 schools in England are using more unqualified teachers to take lessons in response to growing teacher shortages, research suggests.

The Times Education Supplement (TES) says a survey of nearly 250 heads revealed almost half had unfilled positions in their schools.

The survey, by TES Global, also suggested that more than a quarter were also using more supply teachers.

The government said teacher numbers and quality were at record levels.

Almost one in 10 of the heads said they had recruited teachers from overseas while almost one in eight said they were asking teachers to cover subjects in which they did not specialise.

Fewer applicants

Science and maths teacher vacancies are the hardest to fill, according to separate figures from the latest TES Teacher Recruitment Index, based on interviews with nearly 5,000 schools.

Other subjects with shortages include English and information technology.

Schools in London, the South East and the West Midlands are finding teacher recruitment particularly tough, according to this set of figures.

The toughest vacancies to fill are physics teacher jobs in London, which currently receive only two applications on average - compared to eight in 2012, when the figures were last collected.

In the east of England there are just three applications on average, compared to seven in 2012.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Science vacancies are among the hardest to fill, suggest the figures

However there are more positive recruitment patterns in the North East, North West and South West where recruitment has remained more stable, the figures suggest.

TES Global chief executive Rob Grimshaw said the figures highlighted the problems faced by schools in some areas.

"By sharing this data we hope to support a collective and targeted response to difficulties with teacher recruitment in specific subjects and regions," he said.

'All-time high'

A Department for Education spokesman responded: "The number and quality of teachers in our classrooms is at an all-time high.

"New figures show we have recruited more trainees than last year and the number of former teachers coming back to the classroom has continued to rise year after year, from 14,720 in 2011 to 17,350 in 2014.

"The National Teaching Service will recruit 1,500 outstanding teachers and school leaders to work in underperforming schools in challenging areas.

"We are expanding Teach First into every region of the country and the School Direct programme offers all schools, regardless of location, the chance to take control and develop high-quality staff and future leaders.

"Our new range of generous bursaries - up to £30,000 in subjects such as physics - will ensure we continue to attract the best and the brightest."

Labour's shadow education secretary, Lucy Powell, called the figures "a damning verdict on the Tories' record on teacher recruitment and retention".

"There is nothing more fundamental to a good education than having enough excellent teachers in our schools. But the Tories' monumental failure on this route one, basic issue is damaging the education of the next generation," said Ms Powell.

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