The task of filling thousands of school vacancies has been described as “challenging” by a teaching recruitment agency, due to a variety of factors including the pandemic, remote working options, and a shortage of teaching graduates.
In Hertfordshire alone, the number of vacancies has risen from 6,000 pre-pandemic to 10,000, forcing some schools to resort to spending thousands on supply staff to cover the gaps. Catherine Tallis, of HFL Education in Stevenage, acknowledged the difficulties of the situation.
The Priory School in Hitchin, like many other schools across the UK, is also facing difficulties in recruiting staff. The headteacher, Geraint Edwards, stated that the school currently has three teaching vacancies and several support roles to fill.
As the education sector continues to grapple with the challenges posed by the pandemic, the need to fill teaching vacancies remains a pressing concern.
“The recruitment process itself, you’re talking about £1,500 to advertise for a post within the Times Educational Supplement,” said Mr Edwards.
“You do the advertising, then you’re looking for supply agencies – so that costs £1,000 a week.
“At this moment in time, I think we have spent about £30,000 this financial year on supply teachers.”
A modern foreign languages teacher named Lorena Carrion-Perez, who has been qualified for nine years, has spoken of her love for her job and the country in which she now resides and works.
Originally from Spain, Carrion-Perez now lives and works in Hitchin, where she said she has found the job she always wanted. As a former student in the country, she said she “fell in love with” the UK and is thrilled to be teaching here.
With nearly a decade of experience under her belt, Carrion-Perez is a highly qualified teacher who is passionate about her work. Her story highlights the valuable contributions that foreign-born teachers can make to the UK education system, and serves as an inspiration to others who may be considering a similar career path.
“Even though we are not earning so much money, I think it is enough if you have the vocation, although I would like more money to cover the additional hours,” she said.
Angela Westwood, a former police officer who recently joined the support team at the Priory School, has spoken about her new career path and the positive impact it has had on her life.
Working with pupils who have been excluded, Westwood explained that she had always wanted to work with challenging children and help them avoid negative outcomes in later life. After working up to 20-hour shifts during the Covid pandemic, she decided that a change of career was necessary for a better quality of life.
As a mother of two young children, Westwood was motivated to seek a more fulfilling and rewarding role, and her position at the Priory School has provided just that. She explained that she is professionally fulfilled by her work with the pupils and is gaining a lot from the experience.
Westwood’s story highlights the value of career changes and the opportunities that exist in the education sector for those seeking a new challenge. It also underscores the importance of supporting young people who may be facing challenges in their lives, and the potential for positive outcomes when dedicated professionals step up to offer their assistance.
Ms Tallis of HFL education said, “its workload had ramped up “hugely” in terms of teaching and support staff recruitment.”
“There’s not enough graduates coming into teaching so last year recruitment targets were missed by 40% for secondary teachers.
“Unfortunately pay hasn’t always kept pace with the market, particularly for support staff.
“There’s no doubt it is challenging to fill vacancies but that ability to shape a young person’s life is really ultimately rewarding.”
Government information states there are 465,000 teachers in state-funded schools, 24,000 more than in 2010.