Cambridge Independent Column: Tackling Teacher Recruitment

The piloting of a new government website to help schools advertise for, and recruit the teachers they need, is now up and running in Cambridgeshire and the North East. Following the pilot, it is hoped that the website will be launched nationally. 

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Over the course of the last 3 years, I have spent a great deal of time visiting schools across the constituency, talking to staff and management and understanding the key challenges. Funding and recruitment are always top of the agenda. This came as no surprise but what did surprise and, indeed, shock me most, was the amount of money schools are having to spend on recruitment. 

Recruiting through agencies and advertising staff vacancies across a number of commercial sites and an array of local online and offline publications is expensive. The need for a single, free of charge, national teaching jobs site is evident. 

I have been liaising closely with the Department for Education on this project and lobbied extensively for its inclusion in the current Government’s 2017 manifesto. I am thrilled that schools in Cambridgeshire will be some of the first in the country to trial this new website. 

The new website will tackle two critical issues head on. It will dramatically reduce the cost to schools of teacher recruitment. It will also make it much easier for those searching for teaching work to see what vacancies there are in one single place.

The website has been developed in close conjunction with schools, and teachers and educators in our region have played an active role in the process. 

Schools currently spend in the region of £200 million on teacher recruitment. The placing of advertisements on average costs £1200 per hire and the cost of recruiting via an agency, which accounts for nearly two thirds of the annual spend, is 4-5 times more than that of placing a traditional advert. Spending on agencies can be particularly costly when hiring supply teachers. To tackle this problem the Department for Education will also be launching a list of supply agencies that do not charge fees when making supply staff permanent after 12 weeks. 

These new measures will help reduce recruitment costs and allow schools to spend more funds where they are needed most - the frontline of teaching in the classroom.