What can we do to strengthen the teacher workforce?
This paper considers recurrent alarms in England, Wales and other developed countries concerning shortages of teachers. It summarises the conclusions from a mixed-methods international study of teacher supply, quality and retention. The research used large-scale secondary data sets from a variety of sources, at both the individual and aggregate level, and analyses conducted for regional, national and international comparisons. These were supplemented by questionnaire-based surveys and focus groups in England and Wales. One conclusion is that there was no evidence of a general crisis in teacher recruitment and retention over the past decade, and no reason to suspect one was imminent at time of writing. There were some difficulties in recruiting teachers in particular subject areas and geographical regions, but these were largely related to policies regarding recruitment targets and entry requirements that could be changed easily. Fluctuation in the demand for teachers is more closely related to the organisation and funding of schools than to variations in the supply of potential entrants to the profession. The authors consider why the results of this project appear substantially different from those of much previously published research in this area, and warn against the uncritical use of particular indicators and measures. They go on to suggest, in the light of these findings, what steps could be taken to strengthen the teacher workforce in England and Wales.
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