Imran Hussain MP has called for the Department for Education to abandon its national teacher census and replace it with a regional assessment of teacher needs, alongside allocating additional funding to recruit teachers in schools with a history of high teacher vacancies.
Under the current teacher census, the Department for Education conducts a review of teacher vacancies at a national level and uses this information to identify which subject areas face a shortage nationally. This information is then used to determine which subjects attract a bursary of up to £30,000 offered to trainee teachers.
However as it is only conducted at a national level, the census and national assessment only seeks to help increase the number of teachers in subjects where there is a national shortage. This then creates difficulties for schools in some areas to recruit teachers but not a national shortage as they do not receive the same incentives as other subjects and are not guaranteed to attract trainee teachers due to additional regional factors.
However following his meeting with the Minister for Schools, Mr Hussain has called for the Government to scrap their national assessment and replace it with a regional assessment to better tailor recruitment strategies to the needs of that region. This would also include changes to the teacher training bursary to a model where the bursary varies according to the subject needs in the area in which the trainee teacher wishes to train.
Through this model, Mr Hussain seeks for the system to specifically attract trainee teachers to regions where there are shortages of teachers in their subject areas, and he backs up this intention with evidence that shows trainee teachers tend to remain in the region where they trained, and the recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) which stated that the Department for Education needs to better understand local and regional issues.
Alongside his call to overhaul the annual teacher census, Mr Hussain has also spoken in Parliament calling for the Government to use its decision to change the School Funding Formula to include a separate factor focused on teacher recruitment and retention rates. This new factor would grant increased levels of funding to schools with a history of poor teacher recruitment and retention to enable them to offer greater pay and benefits for teachers in order to attract new and existing teachers.
Speaking on teacher recruitment and retention, Imran Hussain, MP for Bradford East said:
“Teachers play a phenomenal part in the overall education of our children so the difficulty in recruiting and retaining teachers in schools undoubtedly holds back progress in increasing children’s educational attaining. If we are to properly address poor levels of educational attainment we therefore need to look at much better ways of recruiting and retaining teachers.
“As has been shown by the reports from the National Audit Office and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, it is clear that the current recruitment and retention strategy isn’t working, and that it needs overhauling in order to be effective. This failure is in part down to the overly centralised strategy that cannot deliver teachers based on local needs, as it places all of its focus on subjects where there are national shortages rather than addressing local subject shortages.
“What I therefore want to see is a rethink of the current system and change to regional assessments, in line with the Government’s localism agenda, that will enable the implementation of an approach tailored to addressing a region’s specific needs. This would also include changes to the bursary scheme that would see the bursary awarded based on where trainee teachers wish to train and which subjects are in short supply in that region.
“I also believe that the Government should look at the merits of holding the census at a time other than November as this is too early in the academic year. As a result of its timing it is too likely to produce results that are not reflective of the actual rate of vacancies as head teachers are under pressure to increase class sizes or other measures to reduce the vacancy rates and ensure that children are being taught. It is only when the census is truly reflective of needs that it will be possible to begin to adequately address them.”