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17th Apr, 2023

Gavin Beart
Gavin Beart
Job Title
Divisional Managing Director

The next generation of teacher

Early-careers teachers (formerly known as newly qualified teachers) are those just leaving university with a teaching qualification and starting their career in the sector. Schools have quotas of teachers they need to hire every year, to ensure a healthy dose of new energy and enthusiasm is injected into their classrooms.

The government hasn’t done enough to make teacher training an attractive proposition – despite pushing the starting salary for early-career teachers up to £30,000, starting this September. Insufficient promotion of PGCE courses means fewer people are joining the sector.

Key recruitment challenges for school leaders

The NFER report highlighted a few major issues, but the main one is the catastrophic miss in teacher recruitment. Early-careers teacher (ECT) numbers are so low that I think schools are walking into a recruitment and retention nightmare.

This shortage is going to affect both primary and secondary schools, but the impact will be more acute in secondary schools, where 13 out of 17 subjects missed their recruitment targets. There will now be huge pressure on secondaries to find specialist teachers. It’s unfortunate because we’ll see a lot of children taught by non-specialist subject teachers instead.

Secondary schools will need a lot of support to find teachers in certain subjects. For instance, the government only hit 17% of the numbers they require for secondary physics which means those teachers will have their choice of school, while head teachers battle to secure them. While NFER figures show an oversubscription of teachers specialising in drama, history, classics and PE, core or STEM subjects, which schools really need, are lacking.

Securing and engaging early-career teachers

School leaders tend to wait until summer to start the hiring process for September, but they will need to act much earlier to secure the best talent to beat competitors. Most ECTs will have secured other positions by the end of the school year. Getting in early – I’d say May or June at the latest – is the best possible solution.

Head teachers should contact their recruitment agency as soon as they receive notice of a resignation and be prepared to interview and recruit quickly.

During such shortages, each new teacher will likely have multiple job opportunities on the table. Once the teacher accepts an offer, there might be 18 weeks before their start date – so school leaders must keep their new starters engaged within that time or risk losing them to another employer.

A good onboarding process like this is key to employee attraction and retention. ECTs are new to the workforce and the profession; they might be nervous about starting their careers, so will appreciate employers who take steps to provide adequate support.

How employers should help their ECTs:

  • Include new teachers in any team conference calls or meetings

  • Organise inset days and shadowing opportunities

  • Give ECTs access to school reports, newsletters and updates

  • Invite ECTs to sports days

  • Introduce ECTs to parents early on

  • Offer a teaching assistant once in post

Overall, employers will really need to sell their school as a great place to work, and a good environment in which to progress, and roll out the red carpet to retain their fledgling teaching talent.

To find your next teaching opportunity, or a talented new starter for your school, contact your nearest Reed office.