Almost twice as many schools struggling to recruit teachers in 2022

The number of schools and academy trusts struggling to recruit teachers has almost doubled in the space of a year, according to a major new survey.

The National Governance Association (NGA) survey of governors and trustees of state-funded schools found that challenges in recruiting teaching staff are at their highest level since the association first started asking the question six years ago in 2016.

It also reveals today that less than a third (30 per cent) reported feeling financially sustainable with current levels of funding and income.

Just over half of those surveyed (53 per cent) said their school or trust had found it difficult to recruit teaching staff – an increase from 29 per cent in 2021.

And the proportion struggling to recruit support staff has more than doubled from 22 per cent last year to 53 per cent this year.

Those governing in all-through schools (81 per cent), alternative provision (73 per cent) and special schools (70 per cent) were the most likely to struggle with teacher recruitment.

There was also a difference between academy trusts and maintained schools, with 57 per cent of those governing in trust settings struggling to recruit teachers versus 46 per cent of local authority-maintained schools.

Regionally, those in London (61 per cent) and the South West (57 per cent) also said they find hiring staff most difficult.

Unsurprisingly, the survey reveals the scale of concern over school finances as well.

Governors in all regions, school types and phases reported that school funding is the biggest challenge for schools and trusts. Only 30 per cent of respondents said they are financially sustainable in the medium to long term without drawing on unspent funds or making significant changes.

Only 35 per cent of respondents believe that their organization is sufficiently funded to deliver its vision and strategy to meet the needs of all pupils, down from 40 per cent in 2021.

The NGA said a combination of different financial pressures are threatening school budgets.

The survey reveals increasing concerns amid the cost-of-living crisis. Infrastructure costs, including energy prices, presented a growing financial challenge for governing boards when they were surveyed in May 2022, even before reaching current levels.

The survey also found that safeguarding concerns have risen following the pandemic, with 71 per cent of respondents reporting an increase in concerns, including domestic abuse, concerns around mental health and neglect.

Just 10 per cent of governors and trustees have a positive view of the government’s performance on education, the lowest since first asked in 2011.

The findings come from a survey of over 4,100 governance volunteers who are responsible for the strategic direction, educational performance and budget in schools.

In her foreword to the NGA report, Emma Knights, the NGA’s chief executive, said: “An issue that deserves a mention here is the recruitment of teachers, which is being identified by more boards as a challenge than ever before.

“Interestingly, this is something the sector as a whole has been reporting for a number of years but the views of governing boards up to this point had painted a slightly different picture. But 2022 can leave us in no doubt this is an issue growing in prominence.

On financial pressures, she said: “The impact of rising costs on school and trust budgets is now a national challenge like no other. Senior leaders and governing boards throughout the country are reviewing their budgets in the face of these enormous rises, including unfunded national pay awards for their staff.

The situation has been compounded by the fact that the funding for schools per-pupil remains below the level it was in 2010. These discussions for some might include potential redundancies, a reduction of the offer to pupils and less expenditure on buildings.”

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