NFER’s Annual Teacher Labour Market Report 2023

NFER’s Annual Teacher Labour Market report monitors on the progress in the recruitment system in England. The report predicts that there will be continued recruitment challenges for subjects without bursaries.

Jack Worth, launching the newly published NFER Teacher Labour Report, March 2023, said: 

ITT recruitment numbers were dreadful last year, and this year is not going better. Our forecast - with uncertainty as only based on applications to Feb, and last year's targets - is for targets missed across a range of subjects.

The report's author's write: 

'Teacher recruitment and retention challenge in England has intensified significantly since the pandemic. Historically low recruitment into initial teacher training and falling retention rates point towards a deteriorating attractiveness of teaching compared to other occupations and affirms that urgent policy action is needed across the sector to address the teacher supply challenge.

The report includes the following recommendations: 

  • Last year's recruitment to initial teacher training (ITT) was substantially below the estimated number of teachers required to ensure adequate staffing levels in schools.
  • Increase pay by more than 4.1% on average to improve competitiveness, as part of a funded long-term pay strategy
  • Continue focusing on improving workload
  • Look at improving flexibility

In 2022/23 Art and design only recruited 90% of its teacher supply model target. The report says (page 9):

Last year’s under-recruitment of subject specialists is likely to further contribute to teacher shortages in subjects which schools already find it difficult to recruit for.  Recent NFER research has shown that this leads to schools relying on strategies to mitigate against teacher shortages, such as relying more heavily on non-specialist and supply teachers to teach specific subjects, which have the potential to impact the quality of education for pupils (Worth and Faulkner-Ellis, 2022b).

For 2023/24 cycle the report indicates that given current application numbers, primary and nine secondary subjects (physics, computing, design & technology, business studies, MFL, religious education, music, drama and art and design) are expected to be 20 per cent or more below target. A drop 10% from last year.

Responding to the report's findings. Michele Gregson, CEO and general secretary says:  

This report is a warning light for the DfE. It shows how year-on-year under recruitment in art and design ITT is not only resulting in an increase in workload but also potentially a lowering of standards. We call on the government – as we have since 2020 when bursaries were removed – to address the growing gap in teacher supply and to address the shortfall in representation and diversity in our subject's workforce. We have seen teacher supply targets for art and design reduced, bursaries removed, and now our subject is set to have a 20% shortfall in meeting next year's recruitment target. We urge the government to re-introduce subject bursaries in order to attract, recruit and retain its workforce.'