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British schools in crisis as rising numbers of teachers quit

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LONDON, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) — Schools in England face a growing sense of crisis as they struggle to retain and develop their teaching workforce, a report by politicians warned Wednesday.

The House of Commons Public Account Committee report said the number of high school teachers has been falling since 2010, citing a variety of factors.

Particularly worrying, say the MPs in their report, is that a number of secondary school teachers have been quitting the profession for reasons other than retirement since 2012.

“Many teachers have cited heavy workloads as a reason for their departure. At the same time pupil numbers are rising and the Department for Education (DfE) expects schools to make significant savings from using their staff more efficiently,” their report adds.

Accusing the department of giving insufficient priority to teacher retention, the report says the DfE should have been able to foresee this situation and take action to address it.

“By its own admission, the department has given insufficient priority to teacher retention and development,” the report adds.

The quality of teaching and the level of teaching vacancies vary significantly across the country, the politicians say, adding the DfE does not seem to understand the reasons for the variation or the different challenges that schools in different regions face.

MP Meg Hillier, who chairs the committee, said: “A crisis is brewing in English classrooms but government action to address it has been sluggish and incoherent.

“It should have been clear to senior civil servants that growing demand for school places, combined with a drive for schools to make efficiency savings, would only build pressure in the system. Instead they seem to have watched on, scratching their heads, as more and more teachers quit the profession.”

Hillier called on the government to “get a grip” on teacher retention and set out a targeted, measurable plan to support struggling schools as a matter of urgency.

In the time between 2015 to 2016 school leaders filled only around half of their vacancies with sufficiently qualified and experienced teachers.

“There is a real danger that, without meaningful intervention from government, these challenges will become an intractable threat to children’s education,” warned Hillier.


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