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Teachers are leaving London schools in droves – as recruitment crisis deepens across country

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London schools are seeing a drop in teacher numbers, despite a slight uptick in the national school workforce, recent data reveals. While the number of teachers across England has seen a small increase, London’s state schools have experienced a decline, with thousands of educators leaving the sector.

The NAHT school leaders’ union is urging the incoming government to take immediate action to tackle the “recruitment and retention crisis facing our schools”. According to the Department for Education, as of November, there were 75,079 teachers employed in the 2,587 state-funded schools in London, a decrease from 75,284 the previous year.

In contrast, the overall school workforce in England has grown “marginally” by approximately 300 teachers to 468,700, which includes some without qualified teacher status. The statistics reveal that about 44,000 qualified teachers entered the school workforce, a reduction of 3,900 from the prior year’s new entrants. At the same time, 43,500 qualified teachers exited the state school sector.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, commented on the concerning figures: “These alarming figures are stark evidence of the recruitment and retention crisis facing our schools and the need for whoever forms the next government to commit to urgent action to address this.” He said there are 18,000 more pupils in schools this year, while fewer new teachers have joined compared to previous years. He added that teacher vacancies are causing difficulties delivering the full curriculum, with subjects taught by non-specialists and supply teachers.

Teacher vacancies in state schools in England have more than doubled in the past three years, reaching an all-time high of 2,800 in November. In London schools, 366 teaching roles needed to be filled down from 372 the year before. Of these, 348 were for classroom teachers. There were also 868 positions that were temporarily filled.

Pepe Di’Iasio, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, commented: “What these figures show, and what all school and colleges leaders know only too well, is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to fill teacher vacancies. Often this requires advertising roles several times and making use of supply staff in the intervening period, all of which has a financial cost attached.”

He further added: “Teachers are the education system’s most precious resource and the next government cannot afford to be so complacent. We need a comprehensive plan to address the recruitment and retention crisis and ensure schools and colleges can attract and retain the teachers they need to maintain a high standard of education for all pupils.”

The median pay for classroom teachers across London saw a 7% increase since 2022, with those teaching at inner London schools earning £47,700, while those at outer were paid £46,000.

The DfE stated: “The number of teachers entering and leaving service both fell though the number of entrants continues to be higher than for leavers. This, combined with changes in working patterns and an increase in unqualified teachers, resulted in a marginal increase to the number of teachers in England.”

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