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Teacher Shortages

Volume 618: debated on Monday 19 December 2016

The school workforce census reports a fairly constant vacancy rate of 0.2% of teachers in post. New analysis, published in September, of the proportion of schools with at least one vacancy showed some variation between regions since 2010, with London consistently having the highest proportion of vacancies. The Department is trying to identify the schools that are experiencing the greatest teacher shortages and help them to meet those challenges.

Good teaching depends on retaining good teachers in the profession. Does the Minister not accept that the consistent underfunding of schools in disadvantaged areas such as the north-east makes retaining teachers very difficult? Will he look again at the area cost adjustment of the national funding formula, which could well have the perverse effect of sending money away from disadvantaged areas and into more affluent ones?

We have protected the core schools budget in real terms throughout this Parliament and the last. Moreover, we have grasped the nettle and introduced fair funding, which the Labour party failed to do throughout its time in office. One of the elements of that fair funding is ensuring that there are sufficient funds to tackle disadvantage and lower prior attainment.

Schools in Somerset have great teachers, but find it hard to recruit. Does my hon. Friend agree that adjusting the funding formula will help rural areas such as mine to attract and retain excellent teachers?

My hon. Friend is right. Authorities around the country, particularly those in the f40 group, have been underfunded for many years. As I said to the hon. Member for Houghton and Sunderland South (Bridget Phillipson), we were the first Government to grasp the nettle and introduce a much fairer system to replace those historic, anachronistic and unfair national funding formulas.

Following last week’s announcement of the proposed funding formula, may I ask the Minister how it will help us to recruit and retain teachers, given that all but one of the secondary schools in my constituency will lose money as a result of the formula?

The national funding formula has been introduced to ensure that we have a fair funding system. We shall be consulting on that fair funding system over the next 14 weeks, and I am sure that the hon. Gentleman will send in his representations.

If an outstanding academy in the New Forest, minutes from the seaside, is finding it difficult to recruit an English teacher, what hope is there for schools anywhere else?

My right hon. Friend has raised an important point. The national fair funding formula will help schools to acquire the resources that will enable them to use the discretion that we have given them in respect of how they reward teachers, especially teachers of certain subjects whom it is difficult to recruit.

May I take this opportunity to wish the House Nollaig Chridheil agus Bliadhna Mhath Ùr?

The Association of School and College Leaders has warned that opening new grammar schools may worsen teacher recruitment. Does the Minister not think that priority should be given to incentivising teacher recruitment and retention, rather than taking the retrograde step of providing new grammars that will do nothing for teachers, pupils or parents?

We are prioritising teacher recruitment. We met 94% of our target last year and 93% this year, and we are recruiting more teachers in sciences than before. I think that the hon. Lady should take account of the number of teachers who are entering teacher training. She should also acknowledge that there are 456,000 teachers in our schools today, which is an all-time high, and that there are 15,000 more teachers today than there were in 2010.