02 February 2018
The stresses teachers face at work is causing many to leave the profession, leading to a shortage, MPs have warned in a new report.
The Public Accounts Committee has criticised the government for failing to act, despite a decrease in the number of secondary school teachers since 2010.
Increasingly, teachers are quitting over the pressures they face at work, with many citing heavy workloads as their reason for leaving.
The Committee also noted that the government expects schools to cut costs at the same time as pupil levels are rising, and are being asked to use their staff more “efficiently”, potentially leading to a heavier burden on teachers.
But the government has focused its energies on training new teachers, rather than supporting those already working in schools, with 15 times more spent on the former than the latter.
A shortfall in teaching staff is becoming apparent and threatening children’s education, the report notes. In 2015/16, schools were only able to fill around half of their vacancies with teachers that had the necessary qualifications and experience.
The Committee also criticised the lack of continuing professional development and the significant variation in both employment opportunities for teachers and the quality of teaching across different regions.
Chair of the Committee, Meg Hillier, said: “A crisis is brewing in English classrooms but Government action to address it has been sluggish and incoherent.
“It should have been clear to senior civil servants that growing demand for school places, combined with a drive for schools to make efficiency savings, would only build pressure in the system.
“Instead they seem to have watched on, scratching their heads, as more and more teachers quit the profession.”
Elsewhere, GMB union released shocking figures showing an increase of 24% in serious injuries suffered by teaching staff as a result of violent assault.
In 2016/17, 477 serious assaults were reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), leaving 385 workers so badly injured they needed time of work. One in ten of all injuries reported to the HSE were caused by acts of violence.
As many as 92 workers suffered a “specified injury” – one that results in fractures, loss of sight, brain damage, loss of consciousness, amputation or asphyxia – and one worker died following an assault.