According to a disturbing report from Parliaments Public Accounts Committee, the Government does not have a plan to ensure that our Schools have enough teachers or the right types of specialists needed to teach our children. The challenge of matching the supplies of trained people to the demand for their role is not a new one yet as a quick search on the internet will show, however the PAC claims that the Government “has repeatedly missed its target to fill training places. At the same time, it has remained woefully aloof from concerns raised by frontline staff and freely available evidence.” and “variations in the supply and quality of teachers at local level can significantly affect pupils’ educational attainment and life prospects.” The real challenge when this problem arises is that Schools are left alone to deliver the lessons for their pupils, unable to do anything to change the way in which trainee teachers are recruited and which training courses are established. The Government appears to be in some form of denial, Schools Minister, Nick Gibb is quoted as saying “we do not recognise this picture” when he was challenged by the Committee.
I recall from my own education that some of my best individual lessons came from teachers working in the ‘wrong’ specialism, but this Government is not at all aloof when it comes to measuring the performance of Schools. No matter how creative Schools are with their allocation of the limited number of teachers, the ultimate test in the Governments view is how well our children do in their exams. Exams don’t make an allowance for any problems caused for the School by the Government such as the availability of the right sort of teacher and so the lack of teachers has the potential to impact the future success of the School. If poor results do arise as a consequence of this failure, not only will our children face limited employment prospects when compared to those educated in Schools able to throw money at this problem, but the Schools themselves will be criticised. I wonder if Nick Gibb’s successor will be as sanguine when the results begin to reflect this problem? Even if the next Government is understanding, this situation will further increase the gap between state funded schools and those funded by wealthy donors and rich parents.