Pressure on schools to keep hold of staff

James Franklin-Smith, principal at Trinity Academy
James Franklin-Smith, principal at Trinity Academy

Calderdale has emerged as one of the top local authorities in the country with most challenging teaching recruitment problems.

According to the latest Government data, the area saw the largest increase in full-time vacancies in primary and secondary schools between 2014 and 2016, going from four to 34.

However, 31 of these vacancies were at one school which was Trinity Academy in Halifax.

James Franklin-Smith, principal at the Holmfield school explained that the figures were down to the school being a multi-academy trust.

He explained the figures appear high because they also run a junior school, two secondary schools and a vocational college.

In Yorkshire there were 139 full-time vacant posts at publicly-funded schools when the snapshot was taken in November last year, representing 0.4 per cent of the total posts in the region.

There were also a further 267 full-time posts that had been temporarily filled, representing 0.7 per cent of Yorkshire’s total. Around the county, 11.4 per cent of schools had a vacancy or a temporarily-filled post.

Union leaders have blamed the high vacancies on an escalating teacher recruitment and retention crisis, fuelled by excessive workload and year-on-year cuts to teachers’ pay.

James Wilson, secretary of Calderdale NUT said: “Unfortunately, these announcements come as no surprise. The number of Calderdale teachers who decide to leave the profession is increasing year on year, particularly amongst newly qualified teachers, who ought to be filling the gaps left by retiring teachers. It would be more accurate to call this a ‘retention crisis’ rather than a ‘recruitment crisis.’

“Although teachers’ pay has been cut heavily in real terms since 2010, we believe that the main cause of these problems is the unrealistic expectations placed on those teachers who remain. The number of teachers who are absent due to work related stress and depression is sky rocketing.

“Parents are already aware of the problems that a lack of continuity in the teacher of their children can cause.

Teachers have always had a lot of work to do outside of the school day, and this is accepted. However, the flawed accountability measures that schools are subject to is leading to unnecessary workload which does not benefit children’s learning.