We don’t have a recruitment problem (ok we may have a recruitment problem!) but I know lots of new teachers who came into the profession having spoken to a teacher who was able to enthuse them enough for them to make the decision and go into teaching! I have spoken to lots of career changers myself over the last 10 years … I’ve even been a case study for the NCTL (or something! .. If I could be really bothered I’d look up an old email to check who it was with!) telling the tale of how I changed career in my 30’s. But I’m not talking just about career changers I’m talking about getting into teaching in general. I just don’t see “getting bums on seats” as our major issue. Ok, I admit that getting the “right” bums on seats may be an issue but nothing that is insurmountable. … ummm actually it seems that the government have an issue getting new teachers through the doors despite throwing millions at the problem. Need I mention the “army” initiative or when the government announced this (which no-one I’ve spoken to even knew existed) and they only managed to recruit 13 trainees ( schoolsweek article ) … what an absolute fecking shambles!
If the conditions were right, almost every teacher in the country should be willing and able to recommend the job to others. On my travels one of the questions I’ve asked at most of the network meetings is “would you recommend teaching to someone else? and has that view changed in recent years?” .. the responses have been interesting! The reason for asking this question, is that about 6 months ago I was approached by my neighbour to talk to a friend of his who was considering a career change into teaching – like I say, I get asked this a lot!! For the first time ever I had to stop and ask myself if I could honestly, hand on heart, recommend the job to someone else. It has changed so much in the last 5 years – the increased pressure for results, the changes to the exams at GCSE and now A level maths this coming year all feel like they’ve been introduced at such a frenetic pace that I genuinely worry about newbies to the profession who think that this is the “norm” so that when the next new thing comes along they just accept this cycle of constant change and get on with it, never questioning and working themselves into the ground and if it turns sour they ultimately leave what is the most rewarding job I have ever done!
Which is why todays report from the NFER about teacher retention should make for interesting reading (due to be published at 9am!). If we retained more people in the profession, recruitment wouldn’t be such an issue. In the businesses I was involved with, we used to talk about retention rates of staff and one of our key performance indicators was retention of staff – celebrating lengths of service (whether it be 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 or even 25 years and beyond) was something that was done on a regular basis. I know there are many, many teachers that celebrate similar lengths of service but having over 10% of your workforce leave the profession is almost criminal (and don’t be telling me it’s always been that high .. if it has been, it shouldn’t be!) and I also know that there is a healthy level of “churn” to be had too but I’d have to say that losing over 10% because they’re leaving the profession every year is just wrong.
PS: the last I heard the guy I spoke to had done his work experience and the application for his training place had gone in and he was waiting to hear if he’d got it! So maybe I did an OK job after all!