Local solutions to a national crisis

Local solutions to a national crisis
Date20th Feb 2023AuthorAmna RehmanCategoriesTeaching

The UK teaching profession is currently in crisis. At present there are too few teachers entering the profession to meet the demands of the growing population, and for those that do successfully complete their teaching training, regardless of the pathway they opt for, the retention of new teachers is poor, and this is reflected in the high number of teachers who decide to leave the profession within 5 years.

Figures released by DfE as part of its Initial Teaching Training Census revealed that the total of new entrants to ITT is down 20% this academic year, compared to 2021/22. More specifically, new entrants at postgraduate level have witnessed a significant reduction in numbers, with 23% fewer than last academic year. Failing to attract applicants is turning the cracks in the profession into chasms. ITT recruitment has decreased for both primary and secondary subjects, with a fall of 38% and 20% respectively. These figures suggest that people are disinterested in teaching and that more needs to be done to address the problems of recruitment and retention in teaching. 

Why are people not interested in becoming teachers? Of those that do train to become teachers, why do they want to leave the profession so early in their careers despite the years of education that they have invested in themselves? The problem is a lack of awareness of what a teaching career entails, and what opportunities are available for people within the education sector. The current recruitment strategies do not appear to be attracting the right people for these jobs, as tempting as the government funding and bursary options may seem on paper. The current methodologies of recruitment within teaching are failing, as is reflected in the number of teaching vacancies reported across the education sector.

At Loreto Sixth Form College we have taken a new and innovative approach, in recognition of the current teaching crisis, and have proposed a practical solution to addressing a national problem. In September 2022, our Get into Teaching enrichment programme was launched for those students who might be interested in a career in education. Our two-year course is delivered on a weekly basis to students to give them an insight into teaching and the various career opportunities within the education sector. This enrichment programme not only raises the profile of teaching as a career at Loreto for our sixth form students, but also creates links with local primary and secondary schools where this message is also disseminated. We are working with younger students to inspire them to become the teachers of tomorrow. 

Each weekly session has a different focus on an area of teaching practice. The first half term consisted of teacher stories, whereby different staff members from across the college shared their teaching journeys with the group, highlighting to them the varied avenues through which you can become a qualified teacher. We have invited staff from a local primary school and partner secondary school to come into college to give presentations about a day in their jobs at their respective schools and the triumphs and challenges they face. This gave the group the opportunity to ask frontline staff in the profession questions, and led to healthy discussions about what can be expected in the classroom day to day.

The next phase of the Get into Teaching programme consisted of teaching students about how we learn, exploring metacognition and pedagogical practices. These students are now equipped with the knowledge of how to plan an effective lesson and have been given the building blocks to become effective associate teaching practitioners. They will have the opportunity to enhance their teaching knowledge next term when they visit a secondary school for a morning each week to complete a 6-week placement, with the opportunity to observe a range of subjects across Key Stage 3 in various departments. Our post-16 students will be fortunate enough to see first-hand the range of different teaching styles that professionals use in their everyday practice and how they employ behaviour management techniques with differing age ranges. 

This unique enrichment programme at Loreto College has been designed, resourced and delivered based on a wealth of experience, recognising and giving value to all staff involved to demonstrate that teaching is a collaborative role. The students are active in the process; training them for the world of teaching by giving them valuable knowledge, work experience and expertise alongside support and guidance ensures that they can decide whether the teaching profession is the right choice for them. We believe at Loreto Sixth Form College that our Get into Teaching enrichment programme is a long-term solution that will not only inspire the next generation but effectively equip them for a successful long-standing career in teaching, as they been given the education and tools to pursue a truly rewarding career. It also encourages students from our specific local community to go into education, unlike a more generic national campaign of teacher recruitment.  Get into Teaching is still in its infancy, and we are keen to grow this programme year on year and therefore be able to measure the effects of this programme in the future. We also hope that other educational establishments are encouraged to take inspiration from our solution to the national teaching crisis. 

Amna is a teacher at Loreto Sixth Form College in Manchester and leads the Get into Teaching project.

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