Education think tank warns of ‘exodus’ from teaching profession

Today the Department for Education (DfE) has published the latest initial teacher training (ITT) numbers for England for the academic year 2021 to 2022.

The new figures show that the significant rise in teacher training numbers boosted by the pandemic has now passed, with teacher recruitment now closer to pre-pandemic levels.

Responding to the new ITT figures, James Zuccollo, Director for School Workforce at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:

“Today’s figures show that the huge rise in teacher training numbers seen in the 2020/2021 school year driven by the covid-induced recession has now subsided.

“Historical trends tell us that when the economic picture of a country improves, fewer graduates are likely to go into teaching, but the speed of the national recovery and improvement of the wider UK labour market have meant that this drop-off in teacher recruitment numbers has occurred much more suddenly than expected.

“While there have been some improvements, recruitment problems remain most severe in shortage subjects like physics, chemistry, maths, and modern languages. Increasing teachers’ starting salaries remains the most promising approach to quickly improving this outlook. The government has committed to boosting starting salaries, but this has been delayed.

“Despite these recruitment challenges, it’s very positive to see that the proportion of new teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds has continued to improve, up to 21% from 19% last year.

“Looking at the wider teacher supply picture, when it comes to the retention of existing teachers, we have seen a slightly different picture. Teacher retention was also boosted by the pandemic last year, but unlike recruitment, retention has been sustained and we expect this to continue for another year.

“This may give the government a window of opportunity to act, to keep hold of these existing teachers before they consider other professions as the economy continues to improve. Policies that provide financial incentives to those who entered the teaching profession during the pandemic will therefore be essential to preventing an exodus.”