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Alternative explanations for the teacher supply 'crisis'. What can be done?

(10 January 2018)

This seminar led by Dr Beng Huat See will take place on Wednesday, 24 January at 1pm in ED 134 at the School of Education. Everyone is welcome to attend and booking is not required. For more information please contact ed.finres@durham.ac.uk.

Teacher shortages in the UK and elsewhere are a recurrent issue, but the current teacher supply 'crisis' has caused much concern, especially for the secondary sector with pupil population projected to increase by 500,000 by 2025 and initial teacher training recruitments failing to meet intake targets for five years running in almost all subjects. Such shortages are often attributed to the graduate employment market, the economic cycle and the relative pay and working conditions of teaching vis-à-vis other similar professions. Despite huge investments in a number of interventions, the government acknowledged that it has been unable to address the issue. This paper presents a re-analysis of government data, which suggests that teacher shortages are partly created by government policies. Policy changes in admissions to teacher training, extension of school leaving age, introduction of the EBacc, increasing the number and diversity of schools and the school funding system can increase or decrease teacher demand and supply. Planning for teacher numbers tends to be short term and cannot anticipate these changes years ahead. Consequently estimations of numbers trained cannot be accurate. Similar shortages experienced in the healthcare professions are also partly caused by artificial controls on numbers trained. All these suggest that addressing shortages in these professions would require a more integrated and long-term approach going beyond party politics. A radical approach might be to allow market forces to determine the demand and supply of our workforce, as is done in the private sector.

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Please liaise with the designated contact for your department or college. For further guidance, email dialogue@durham.ac.uk

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