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The Guardian view on teacher shortages: signs of a profession in crisis | Editorial

Teachers are buckling under the pressure of workloads and the Ofsted regime. Fixing this will start with raising salaries

Do more with less. This has been the government’s expectation of every public sector employee since 2010. In education, this has led to stagnant wages and unsustainable workloads, compounded by a punitive Ofsted inspection process that heaps stress upon teachers and can condemn a school to failure in a single sentence. Many are leaving the profession: vacancies in England have almost doubled since the pandemic, according to a recent report. As a result, teachers are being forced to teach more classes outside their specialism. The risk is a creeping deprofessionalisation of the sector that will have a negative impact on learning.

This crisis has been building for years. Austerity has led to fewer support staff, leaving teachers to cope with a rising tide of mental health and social issues. Meanwhile, a succession of below-inflation pay rises over the last decade means teacher earnings have fallen by 13% in real terms since 2010. It is not just absolute pay that is forcing teachers to leave or dissuading people from applying, but the growing gap between teacher pay and salaries in other graduate professions. This is particularly acute in secondary schools, which have struggled to recruit maths and science graduates who can get better-paid jobs elsewhere.

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