There is an issue developing in UK classrooms that is a real cause for concern and does not involve the students. There is currently a teacher shortage in the UK and this is a large and growing issue that could harm the development of today’s young students and the education system as a whole.
An EPI report found that pupil numbers remained steady in secondary schools between 2007 and 2019, but the number of teachers fell by 7%. This is made worse when the study also revealed that a pupil population bulge is developing with numbers expected to increase by 10% between 2019 and 2023. This is creating a lack of qualified teachers and placing extra strain on current teachers, which in turn is leading many to leave the profession.
In fact, 1 in 5 new teachers will leave the profession after just 2 years while as many as 4 in 10 left after 5 years. The high exit rates are increasing for each successive teaching cohort and the rates are highest in key subjects like science, maths, and languages. These teachers are moving to non-teaching professions and this can be attributed to low pay levels, especially those with degrees in maths and physics that could earn a lot more elsewhere.
Addressing the Issue
Offering a wide range of teacher benefits only goes so far and it is clear that teachers need an increase in pay and students need more incentives to consider teaching as a profession. Teaching is a noble profession and one that can be immensely rewarding, but it is also incredibly demanding and stressful with low pay levels.
The Government is taking some action, but more will need to be done in the coming years to prevent a major issue that impacts the education system and the development of students. The Government has recently announced higher starting salaries of £30,000 for new teachers from September 2022 and retention incentives of £2,000 per year for educators in shortage subjects.
Experts Want to See More
Despite this, experts believe that this does not go far enough and will create additional challenges for disadvantaged schools that are less likely to secure additional funding. It is proposed that schools with large numbers of new teachers should receive resources to pay higher salaries through changes to the national funding formula and the retention incentives should be extended to existing early career teachers in shortage subjects.
The teacher shortage is a serious issue in the UK that could very quickly spiral and cause lasting damage to the development of younger generations and the education system as a whole. More needs to be done to reward existing teachers for their important work and to make teaching a more inviting profession for those starting a career path.