The impact of COVID-19 on teacher recruitment
- Recruitment of teachers by schools in England is highly seasonal, usually peaking in March-May. However, this year's recruiting season has been dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting school closures. Recruiting activity at English secondary schools, as measured by posts advertised on their websites, fell suddenly in mid-March and is currently down by about 50-60% compared to the same period last year.
- There have been particularly large reductions in the core subjects of maths, science and English, but substantial falls have been seen in all subject areas. By 3rd April, just over two weeks after the announcement of school closures, these year-on-year variances amounted to about 2,000 fewer teacher vacancy advertisements than would be expected if activity had remained normal for this time of year. At the time of writing, this deficit was continuing to grow.
- A survey of teachers conducted at the end of March indicated that many of those who had previously been considering changing job have since reconsidered. It therefore seems likely that teacher turnover this year will be lower than usual, reducing the number of vacancies that schools have to fill.
- However, most schools still need to recruit. A survey of school leaders showed that many of them – especially those in secondary schools – have delayed their recruitment activities as a result of the pandemic. This is often because they are trying to work out how to interview and select teachers while schools are closed and social-distancing measures in effect.
- These results are also described in an accompanying joint paper by the Gatsby Foundation, Teacher Tapp and SchoolDash: 'Vacancies and Viruses: Teacher Recruitment in the Time of a Pandemic'.
Figure 1: Numbers of secondary-school teacher recruitment advertisements in England
Figure 2: Year-on-year change in number of secondary-school teacher recruitment advertisements in England
Figure 3: Year-on-year change in advertisements by subject
Figure 4: Year-on-year change advertisements by school type
These proportions are very consistent across phases
. Even the differences by Ofsted rating
are relatively modest. When viewed by seniority
, middle and senior leaders (excluding headteachers) are the most likely to have been considering a move, but also the most likely to now be undecided.
Figure 5: Teachers' short-term career plans (March 2020)
Figure 6: School recruitment plans (March 2020)