Teacher Recruitment, Job Attachment and Career Intentions After the Covid-19 Pandemic

20 June 2022 Jenni French

A Gatsby commissioned study by SchoolDash and Teacher Tapp shows that heads are more worried than normal about failing to have a school of suitably qualified teachers and technicians when the new academic year starts in September.

The report shows a return to high levels of teacher recruitment activity by England’s schools and poses key questions about staffing readiness for September 2022. 

Key findings show:

  • The teacher labour market has finally recovered – we are likely to see much higher levels of teacher job moves this September, particularly in secondary schools where job advertisements are up 47% on last year and 14% on 2019, the last pre-pandemic year. 
  • There are emerging signs of teacher shortages, with 11% and 15% of those seeking new staff reporting they have failed to source suitably qualified teachers in the primary and secondary sectors, respectively. 44% of secondary school leaders say they are more worried than normal about failing to have a school of suitably qualified teachers. 
  • Secondary schools are also experiencing severe difficulties in recruiting technicians to work in science, technology and other departments. Advertisement levels are now 64% above the pre-pandemic year of 2018/19, posing the risk that many positions will not be successfully filled by September.  
  • On a more positive note, the pandemic does not seem to have affected longer-term career aspirations of existing teachers. However, there are signs that teachers may be affected by observing the rise of home-working and flexible hours elsewhere in the labour market. Greater flexible working requests will create a net reduction in available teacher hours and do present a challenge for managing teacher timetables. 
  • So far, despite suffering high levels of anxiety and burnout during the pandemic, headteacher turnover has not increased and intentions to remain in the profession have only marginally declined (65% said they intended to be teaching in three years’ time in 2019 versus 63% today). 
  • Of greater concern is the working intentions of those who are currently Assistant and Deputy Heads. The proportion who intend to remain in the profession in three years’ time has fallen from 81% pre-pandemic to 75% today. Moreover, the share who say they want to become a head one day has fallen from 56% to 48%. 
  • Assuming recruitment remains more difficult in future years, improving the desirability of the job for existing teachers remains a priority. Analysis of the attachment of teachers to the profession overall shows it is weakest in schools judged by Ofsted to be Requires Improvement or Inadequate. It is also weak amongst those teachers who are asked to teach out-of-subject and who express a desire to reduce the number of subjects they are asked to teach.
  • It is noteworthy that for inexperienced secondary school teachers, student behaviour rather than subject knowledge is at the root of the problem in their least enjoyable classes, with over 80% naming it as an issue. This may be the reason why Year 9 is a particularly unpopular year group to teach.

Read the full report here

Read the Teacher Tapp blog here and the SchoolDash blog here.