Can Technology Help The
Teacher Recruitment Crisis?

Despite both teachers and students returning to a somewhat normal learning environment—after weathering the storms of the coronavirus pandemic—familiar, deep-rooted issues remain a cause for concern for schools in the UK. 

The teaching recruitment and retention crisis is one that’s been broiling for years, as anyone in the education sector will be all too aware. In 2015, Professor John Howson, founder of TeachVac, an independent vacancy-matching and monitoring service for education professionals, warned then of a new impending teacher supply crisis. He predicted that the shortage of trainees would only worsen as pupil numbers increased and debt-burdened graduates, struggling to keep up with the cost of living, considered alternative career paths.

Fast-forward eight years, and the crisis shows no indication of slowing. In December 2022, The Independent reported that the government had fallen short of its target for recruitment of new secondary school teachers by 41 per cent. In damning statistics published by the Department for Education, it was revealed that only 59 per cent of the target for secondary subject trainees was met in 2022-23—down from 79% from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the retainment picture is no less troubling. A 2022 survey by the National Education Union found that 22% of state-school teachers in England felt they would no longer be working in education in two years’ time, while 44% planned to leave the teaching profession within five years.

With the average teacher’s wage having fallen by a fifth since 2010, combined with drastic underfunding and increased workloads, it’s not difficult to see how the profession has become an increasingly less desirable career choice.

A pile of old laptops

What’s causing the
teacher recruitment crisis?

While the retention issues are underpinned by more than a decade of pay cuts, combined with unmanageable workloads and pressure from a failing inspection system, the problems associated with teacher recruitment are perhaps a little more nuanced, particularly for those looking to retrain.

It’s thought that the main stumbling blocks faced by those looking for a career in teaching are a shortage of funding, time, and flexibility. Indeed, the vast majority of teacher training programmes offer the very real prospect of no salaried places and low bursaries, making the pursuit an unrealistic one for those with families and financial commitments.

For people already in work and looking to retrain, lots of training options simply aren’t flexible enough to work around full-time employment. Often it requires travelling long distances to attend courses, or, in other cases, relocating. Understandably, in practical terms, trainees worry about their financial security and are reluctant to leave their current jobs in order to retrain. 

Meanwhile, there are socio-economic factors to consider, too. In a number of geographical areas in the UK, there is an acute shortage of qualified primary teachers. In areas of deprivation, many inner-city schools struggle to recruit teachers. The same can also be said for small schools in rural and remote areas. Without a qualified teacher in every classroom in every school, the quality of education for young people is diminishing significantly.

How can technology help
those looking to retrain?

In a recent TES webinar, Geraint Jones, Executive Director of NITE, outlined the numerous benefits involved with online, cloud-based training materials for prospective teachers. Through these platforms, trainees have 24/7 access to lectures, webinars, and tutorials—all recorded so that they can study when they want on any device, thereby eliminating two of the fundamental issues of time and flexibility that trainees encounter. But, of course, there needs to be a balance between faceless online learning, and real-life interaction between tutors, students, and mentors. 

At its core, technology has the power to facilitate meaningful communication from any location and on any device, making mentorship easier for teachers studying from a distance. It’s now possible for providers to offer training to those further afield unable to travel or relocate; a huge appeal for those already in full-time employment. With the help of reliable, superfast internet connections, secure devices, and flexible training programs, the route into teaching can be made less obstructive 

How can technology make teaching
an attractive career path?

In the TES webinar, Sufian Sadiq, Director of Talent and Teaching School, illustrated some ways in which schools can improve employment offerings. One point of improvement is technology. High-quality technology infrastructure can save teachers time in the classroom, all the while providing scope for flexibility and professional development. These don’t necessarily have to be expensive solutions, either. Through leasing IT equipment through global technology mainstays like Acer, schools can spread the cost of their technology budget, while further savings can be made through effective device charging. 

By leveraging technology,  and taking advantage of Computeam’s pioneering Connect service, we can reduce the workload and stress associated with teaching, while also providing opportunities for ongoing professional development and support.

How can Computeam help?

While the education system in the UK faces real challenges, the issues involved go further than just mere statistics. Those who choose a career in teaching do so for a myriad of reasons, chief among them is a desire to have a lasting effect on students’ lives. The foundations of any solution, then, must focus on the idea of improving the working environment for educators and reinvigorating the draw of teaching as a profession, all the while providing accessible training for those looking to choose teaching as a career path.

Through a concerted, multilateral effort from everyone involved in the education sector: the government, training providers, suppliers, schools, and multi-academy trusts, while harnessing the power of high-quality ICT services focusing on retainment, a resolution to the teacher recruitment crisis can be found. If you’d like to find out more about how Computeam can help with your technology needs, please get in touch.

Children in school uniform looking at laptops

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Posted on February 28th 2023

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