Working on 
the workforce

The REC has recently reported that the UK faces an ever increasing shortage of teachers as many choose to leave the sector and it is failing to attract the quantity and calibre of candidates that it needs to fill vacancies.

The National Audit Office has warned that a quarter of a million extra school places would be needed in England by autumn 2014. REC Education identified the need for more teachers in 2012 as the school system struggles to cope with present levels of demand and faces up to even greater challenges in the coming years. In the next five years over 700,000 extra children are forecast to enter primary level education in the maintained sector – with an additional 150,000 pupils expected to join secondary schools. The Shadow Education Secretary Stephen Twigg stated recently that an extra 15,000 teachers are needed by 2014-15 to meet this challenge.

A system under strain
Stephen Twigg is right to warn that this poses a real and growing threat to standards in an education system under strain. The present government is making efforts in this area to attract more people into the profession and encourage individuals to return to the classroom. However, there is a long way to go and the raft of recent announcements from the teacher unions over their spring conference season are testament to increasing dissatisfaction in the profession about the scale and pace of reform in the sector. Our members report that growing numbers of teachers are leaving the classroom due to increased levels of bureaucracy and a dramatic deterioration in student behaviour. Indeed a recent survey conducted by the ATL found that 62 per cent of respondents said there were more children with emotional, behavioural and mental health problems in schools than two years ago.

Dr John Dunn, Chair of REC Education, believes the growth in teachers leaving the profession is a trend set to continue: “More and more members are saying they just simply cannot find teachers to fill vacancies. This is not just in the normal areas of concern such as Mathematics and Physics, but in subjects such as English there is a real dearth of candidates in London and the South East.”

Set against this backdrop the government is set to introduce performance related pay into teaching. Will this stimulate talent and promote progression, attracting more people to the profession or merely foster unhealthy competition and sap already fragile levels of morale in our schools? The jury is out but what is clear is that urgent action is needed, and needed now to get more teachers into our classrooms as schools face up to the coming surge in the number of students.

Dr John Dunn added: “The last time the country experienced an acute teacher shortage our sector expanded massively. Specialist recruiters need to keep abreast of this pressing problem both from a business perspective and as part of their role in developing the school workforce.”

The impact
The REC’s recent discussions with the Department for Education, SSAT (formerly the Schools Network), the Teaching Agency and the Guardian Teacher Network have honed in on how radical changes to the education system will impact on specialist recruitment agencies.

Schools are becoming independent entities and local authorities are rapidly being replaced by academy clusters as key players in the delivery of education across large swathes of the country. The latest REC Education general meeting took stock of this seismic transformation and of how the dramatic expansion of the academy model will change current resourcing needs.

Top five trends

The changing face of recruitment – will the education market be transformed?
Schools may well use executive recruiters to source School Business Managers and Governors as schools become more independent. The concern for specialist teaching agencies is that if current trends continue it looks like education may become more similar to other professional markets – albeit with specific safeguarding requirements.

‘Education Corporations’ will supplant Local Education Authorities to dominate the space: Academy chains are groups of institutions that are bound together legally, financially and operationally. Such chains are predicted in future to be allowed to operate at a profit as long as they deliver results and meet certain standards. This could lead to the development of the model seen in areas such as the Middle East where large corporations manage a series of schools to deliver education. These groups of schools will become ‘Education Corporations’ with their own brand and reputation. Parents will select the brand they think best suits their child. With the removal of the requirement of academies to only hire teachers with Qualified Teacher Status, it is feasible that in the future these ‘Education Corporations’ will hire graduates directly every year and train them up just like other commercial organisations on the annual ‘milk round.’

Governors as Directors – an opportunity for executive recruiters: Schools are becoming independent businesses and thus the traditional Board of Governors is set to be transformed. Rather than parents, staff, local volunteers, councillors and respected community figures raising school standards through their setting strategic direction, ensuring accountability and acting as a critical friend, school governors are set to become more commercial figures – akin to a company board of directors. As such, the role of school governor will become more professional and school may well require assistance to source candidates with the diverse skill set required to assist school leaders and School Business Managers in managing and developing their schools.

Regional and localised pay will become the norm: With academies and free schools able to recruit teachers without QTS, it follows that they will be able to set their own rates of pay so that they can compete for talent and attract the teachers they need for their schools to thrive. The chancellor’s Autumn Statement confirmed that national pay bargaining for teachers will be scrapped and replaced by freedom for schools to pay teachers by their performance. National teacher pay scales are set to become a thing of the past as pay becomes linked to the dynamics of local labour markets.

Support for the industry

So how can recruiters support the education system? Dr John Dunn, Chairman of the REC Education group said: “From changes to exams to the rapid growth of academies, education is undergoing an unprecedented transformation. New relationships and innovative systems are the order of the day. Supply agencies have a key role to play in the development of a flexible workforce that can respond to the challenges schools face.

“With the number of pupils set to rapidly expand, the growing importance of school business managers and changes to teaching standards there is much for members to take in. REC Education continues to be at the forefront of the debate and a respected authority on the management of temporary school workforce.”

Does your recruiter have the REC Audited Education stamp of approval?
Whether you are looking to recruit teaching or non-teaching staff make sure that the recruiter you are using has the REC Audited Education stamp. REC Audited Education is a new audit scheme run by the REC to provide quality assurance of recruitment agencies that supply teaching and non-teaching staff to schools, academies and education providers across England and Wales. The new scheme replaces the Quality Mark, which the REC managed on behalf of the Department for Education from its inception in 2002 to its conclusion in April 2013.

Having the REC Audited Education stamp of approval means that you can rest assured that your recruitment practice are being handled by experts who adhere to the highest levels of best practice and compliance. REC chief executive Kevin Green says: “When a school turns to a recruitment agency to help them find staff to work with children and young people, they have to be confident that all the appropriate checks have taken place. The aim of our scheme is to give head teachers peace of mind that they are working with an accredited supplier who adheres to the very highest standards.

“To achieve REC Audited Education status and display the badge, recruitment agencies will have to prove they are not just compliant with all necessary legislation and regulations but that they operate the very best practice.”

When developing the scheme, the REC gathered input and advice from leading unions, local authorities, education organisations, and individual schools and academies to ensure the scheme addressed the issues of most importance to them.

Further information

Tel: 020 7009 2100