Yesterday, 5th October, was UNESCO World Teachers' Day and in a certain sense teachers are indeed increasingly sought after, as we will see.
Since January 2017, SchoolDash has been tracking the online recruitment activity of secondary schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges in England. We publish daily and weekly summary information in our Jobs section. This blog post looks at longer-term trends by analysing year-on-year changes between 2017 and 2018 in order to see whether recruitment activity is currently rising or falling.
In short, it seems to be rising. Figure 1 shows the difference between 2017 and 2018 in the weekly numbers of advertised positions from the end of May (just after the summer half term) until early October (during the first half of the autumn term)1. Looking at the cumulative data so far, we see a net difference of 558 additional jobs posted over this period. The represents an increase in activity of 12.5% over the corresponding weeks in 2017.
There are some marked differences by subject area. For example, Science and English teacher recruitment activity have risen strongly while Geography is flat and Language teacher recruitment is currently down compared to last year.
(Use the drop-down menu below to select weekly or cumulative data. Click on the figure legend to show or hide individual subject areas; double-click to show one subject area on its own. Hover over the graph to see data values.)
Figure 1: Year-on-year changes in number of teacher recruitment advertisments per week by subject area
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
It's important to be clear what this does – and doesn't – indicate. Firstly, we're only looking at online recruiting ads that are placed on, or linked from, school websites. Most state schools advertise positions in this way, but it's less common among independent schools. Whatever the kind of school, we also can't be sure that all of its vacancies are listed. Secondly, we don't find every job even when they are posted online: links break, websites go offline and some jobs are presented in ways that make them difficult to analyse. Finally, we take a conservative approach to identifying new positions, filtering out anything we think might be (eg) a repeat advertisement or a non-teaching position. For all these reasons, it's better to think of this as a survey of schools (albeit one conducted by polling their websites) rather than a definitive list of all open positions (such a database doesn't exist). The numbers presented here are almost certainly an underestimate of the true number of job openings, but as long as our methods remain consistent, changes over time should broadly reflect reality.
We should also recognise that an increase in job ads can arise for a number of reasons. For example, it might reflect actual growth in teacher numbers, greater teacher mobility or a shift from full-time to part-time employment. On the other hand, it can also be caused by higher staff turnover or by schools struggling to fill vacancies from an insufficient pool of suitable teachers. Of course, it can also be a mixture of these various causes, both good and bad. We will have more to say about this in a future blog post, but on their own the data presented here don't distinguish between these different possibilities.
We're currently in the low season for teacher recruitment, so it will be interesting to see what year-on-year differences emerge when activity rises (as it surely will) during the first half of 2019. Keep an eye on our Jobs section, where we will continue to publish weekly updates of these figures, and on this blog, where we will comment further on the developing trends.
Though our data go back to January 2017, we spent the first few months of that year tweaking our system, so year-on-year comparisons for the period from January to May are less meaningful and are not presented here.