STEM teacher shortage

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The latest DfE statistics on school workforce show a worrying trend in stagnant teacher numbers against increasing pupil numbers.

One in, two out

Every year the Department for Education publish statistics showing how many teachers are entering and leaving the teaching profession. Over the last 5 years we have seen a stagnation of the number of teachers entering the profession, at the same, a growing number choosing to leave. Interestingly, the data shows that more and more teachers are leaving the profession for reasons other than retirement. As a result there are now nearly 10,000 qualified teachers, ready and able to teach, but are choosing not to work within the profession. This figure has doubled since 2011.

Teachers-leaving-vs-entering

This matters for manufacturers because a basic level of Maths and Science is a requirement for any new entrant into manufacturing whether through an apprenticeship, full-time employment or other form of training. We do not think the current approach to improving basic skills (continuous resitting of exams for those that fail to achieve the grades first time) is the best way forward and is a distraction from one of the major problems – the quality of teaching in our schools. Nor does it inspire pupils to take up design and technology subjects which can equally lead to a lucrative career in manufacturing.

STEM teachers are in short supply

As the graph below shows, the number of STEM teachers has remained stagnant since 2015. This is despite the fact that we’ve seen a huge growth in pupil numbers, from 8.1 million to nearly 8.6 million, which will hit secondary age within the next 2-3 years. As pupil numbers continue to rise, there will be fewer qualified STEM teachers for every one pupil – this will result in teachers without the appropriate post-A Level qualification left teaching pupils these technical subjects.

Pupil-numbers-vs-STEM-teacher-numbers
As our manifesto states, the government must ensure the best teachers are teaching STEM subjects in schools across the country. This is integral to having 16 year olds leaving schools with the right skills and ensure a sustainable pipeline of talent required for manufacturers.

To do this the government must therefore at least commit to meeting its recruitment target for STEM teachers, but also make every effort to retain them in the school workforce.

Author

Education and Skills Policy Advisor

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