NFER suggests pandemic could boost teacher recruitment


The coronavirus pandemic could help to boost recruitment in the education sector, helping to cut teacher shortfalls, the National Foundation for Educational Research has predicted.

Research suggests that several subjects which regularly see staff shortfalls could be impacted, as more recruitment, in addition to greater staff retention, has seen a rise in offers for positions.

Maths, chemistry and modern foreign languages have all seen a recruitment boost, with the NFER suggesting that recruitment in certain subjects could be up to 240% higher than what is required.

However, headteachers have urged caution, amid concerns that the boosts to recruitment could be short lived.

According to the research by the NFER, a higher proportion is happier to stay in the profession following the pandemic, with many seeking a degree of job security.

Some 1,700 teachers were surveyed on whether they would consider leaving their teaching jobs in July this year, with 15% fewer suggesting they would leave compared to 12 months previously.

It has also driven other individuals to consider a career in teaching, as an analysis of UCAS data reveals a 16% jump in teacher training applications when compared to 2019.

The data paints a positive picture of teacher recruitment and retention in England, although interest in some subjects was considerably above others.

Based on data from the Initial Teacher Training Census, the Department for Education’s teacher supply model and UCAS figures, maths and modern foreign languages saw applications for postgraduate training jump by 26% and 23% respectively.

The NFER has also suggested that the Department for Education’s leaving rates may have been overestimated by up to 25%, meaning a rise in retention may close several recruitment gaps.

Recruitment in history and biology could be 240% and 243% higher than what is required in 2020-2021 when factoring in a higher retention rate.

The report explains: “Accounting for increased recruitment and an increase in teacher retention rates, it is likely that trainee numbers in almost all subjects will meet the school system’s need for teachers in September 2021.”

Target figures are based on the Teacher Supply Model, which contains estimates on how many teachers will be required in the education sector.

A Department for Education spokesperson welcomed the analysis and the “continued surge in the number of people looking to enter the classroom”.

However, the report also notes that the scenario planning may not be “an accurate prediction of likely outcomes”, which is why the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) has urged caution.