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Teacher recruitment targets missed AGAIN. Don’t ask who is teaching your kid maths or physics

(46 Posts)
noblegiraffe Fri 29-Nov-19 18:46:25

The latest figures are grim - only 64% of the target for maths teachers was met, which is bad enough, but in physics the figure was 43%.

If you are considering emailing a teacher a petty complaint (and from MN there are plenty of you about), do consider that it might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for that teacher and whether your child not having a teacher at all would be worth the satisfaction.

The system is in crisis and looking at the manifestos, none of the parties really appreciate the scale of the problem.

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TeenPlusTwenties Fri 29-Nov-19 19:02:42

To be fair noble I think that most of the posters on this board don't email petty complaints. Whereas on AIBU...

CripsSandwiches Fri 29-Nov-19 19:16:59

Preaching to the converted here. As a somewhat relevant question if I trained as a maths teacher would I be allowed to teach physics at a level and gcse? I am very qualified in physics (my DPhil is in physics) but don't want to train as a science teacher. Most of the schools I've been tend to have teachers with biology or chemistry degrees who were fine at the lower levels but massively struggled at A-level particularly with bright students. So I thought it might be useful to have an a level gcse / teacher available.

I have no idea how admin and funding works in schools though so perhaps I'd be foiled by beurocracy.

TeenPlusTwenties Fri 29-Nov-19 19:22:00

Though as to the main point, I agree it is depressing.

My solution? Maths & Physics teacher to teach no more than 15 periods per week, leaving equivalent of 2 clear days in which to prep, mark etc. No class size above 24.

You'll need loads more teachers than you currently have, but at least then the work load will be more similar to that which people with those degrees can find outside of teaching, so you might have a hope of recruiting.

Spam88 Fri 29-Nov-19 19:23:30

crips once you're a qualified teacher you're a qualified teacher, you can teach subjects and age ranges other than those you trained for as long as you can convince the school you're capable. As a general rule, I think most schools are happy for people to teach up to the level below which they have a qualification for (e.g. I have A level chemistry so taught up to gcse), but that presumably all goes out the window when they don't have a teacher qualified for a particular subject anyway! My only reservation with your suggestion would be that you wouldn't have had any training in running practicals.

Katjolo Fri 29-Nov-19 19:29:17

You are so right OP. It's a worry and not on the agenda for politicians.

noblegiraffe Fri 29-Nov-19 19:44:10

@TeenPlusTwenties if I posted this thread on AIBU I’d get moans about ‘political threads’ and be accused of being a bot or something.

Even in my area which is very lucky for recruitment being close to two training providers, schools are struggling badly. Any PGCE student who looks even remotely competent is being offered a job for September by their first placement.

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CripsSandwiches Fri 29-Nov-19 19:45:03

@Spam88 thanks for your reply good point. My memory is that physics practicals were more straightforward than chemistry or biology (but I may be well out of date). I guess depending on the school (whether there even were any candidates) I could certainly help with MAT /step preparation without actually being a physics teacher.

As a physics graduate I definitely don't know anyone (apart from me) who is considering teaching. I think the suggestion above of offering a smaller workload would definitely work. Lots of people go on into finance or work as patent attorneys etc where part time work is completely impossible. My understanding (at least anecidottaly) was that with part time teaching you can end up being in 5 days a week anyway due to timetabling issues.

SansaSnark Fri 29-Nov-19 19:47:48

@CripsSandwiches There are schools (like my current one) where that would be possible, and schools where it would just be possible to teach A-level Physics in this way, but not GCSE because all GCSE classes have 2 teachers and they split the third science. If you picked your school carefully, it would definitely be possible.

Many schools share teachers between science and maths, so it wouldn't be that unusual! Are you totally against teaching biology and chemistry?

Often GCSE Science (even triple) will be taught by 2 teachers who may teach one science each and split the third between them- which means even if you're teaching physics, you have to teach out of specialism. This puts some people off training as they don't want to teach the other sciences (especially biology), even at KS3.

I think chemistry at 70% is also becoming a concern- most science departments I know are also struggling to recruit chemists (if not just struggling to recruit!).

CripsSandwiches Fri 29-Nov-19 19:54:21

When I initially applied for training (I decided eventually to wait until DC were older). I did get the impression I basically had to turn up and not be grossly inappropriate in order to be offered training places/scholarships.

noblegiraffe Fri 29-Nov-19 19:57:45

that with part time teaching you can end up being in 5 days a week anyway due to timetabling issues.

Hello! That would be my experience! Part timers can indeed be treated like shit in favour of ‘the timetable’.

The problem with offering more non-contact time is that would then require more teachers than we already don’t have. It would certainly help in the long term but in the short term would leave (even more) classes untaught until recruitment picked up and retention stopped being more of a bucket with no bottom than a bucket with a hole.

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noblegiraffe Fri 29-Nov-19 19:59:06

I’ve heard even ‘totally and obviously unsuitable’ is being offered a training place these days.

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Changemyname18 Fri 29-Nov-19 21:59:16

If I had the necessary skills in Maths and Physics, there's no way I'd be a teacher. You can earn so much more in so many other fields professionally, contribute to cutting edge technology and develop exciting new tech. That or dealing with ill behaved, unmotivated teens who think the world owes them everything. No contest

GrammarTeacher Sat 30-Nov-19 07:35:37

The figures also don't tell the whole story. Recruitment issues also vary with location. My husband works in the police and where we live gets outer London weighting. Teachers don't. It does impact recruitment; particularly of mobile NQTs who can go where cost of living is lower.

EdithWeston Sat 30-Nov-19 07:56:11

I don't have anything useful to say about teacher recruitment, but will remember this thread when next there are discussions about why private schools do better in some subjects and send more to university.

CripsSandwiches Sat 30-Nov-19 09:45:37


Thanks so much for your reply, really helpful. I've done plenty of volunteering in schools but have no idea about how things are organised in the background so that's really interesting to know. I guess I'm only slightly against biology and chemistry as I feel not particularly qualified to teach either (I did a chemistry A-level) but haven't done biology past GCSE. I could easily learn the material to teach it to A-level but I guess I'd feel unable to answer questions beyond the course. (I realise on a day to day basis this may not make much difference). I also don't really like the school physics course. Most people at university doing physics only took physics at school as it was a requirement - maths was actually much more important as university preparation in physics.

CripsSandwiches Sat 30-Nov-19 09:45:55

Sorry didn't mean to derail the thread though!

FullOfJellyBeans Sat 30-Nov-19 10:37:23

In the local comprehensive many of the maths teachers are from a PE background (there is a statistical background to a PE degree so they are qualified). I don't think this is necessarily wrong and there are some wonderfully inspiring teachers among them but they're definitely being required to teach above their level of expertise which is a real issue.

idlevice Sat 30-Nov-19 10:49:15


Not necessarily. I've worked in a big tech company & in academia with my physics background. I've had a rubbish salary & a good salary. Now I have a family I prefer not to work full time. There are no part- time professional roles at my previous level so I would actually like to do part time teaching as I am passionate about the subject. If at A level then at least they have chosen to do the subject so hopefully wouldn't be too receptive!

noblegiraffe Sat 30-Nov-19 11:10:31

there is a statistical background to a PE degree so they are qualified

PE teachers are being roped into teach maths because there’s an excess of PE teachers. It’s pretty much the only subject where there isn’t a shortage.

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noblegiraffe Sat 30-Nov-19 11:16:13

I would actually like to do part time teaching

I’m a part time teacher, it’s the only reason I’ve managed to stay in teaching as long as I have. But part time teaching isn’t really part time in the strictest sense, it only brings your hours down to that of an average full time job.

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Piggywaspushed Sat 30-Nov-19 11:25:04

Giving physics and maths teachers more free periods would not go down well amongst teachers of other subjects... obvious but true.

In my experience (controversy follows!) science teachers do less intensive planning than , say, English teachers. Lessons are standardised. Lab techs set up equipment. They also do a good deal less marking. Clearly, none of this is a compelling recruitment strategy!

Piggywaspushed Sat 30-Nov-19 11:27:25

Noble , can you explain this paragraph? How does this mean English did well?

However, recruitment for biology exceeded target at 166 per cent as did history (127 per cent), geography (119 per cent) and English (79 per cent).

noblegiraffe Sat 30-Nov-19 12:17:18

I think it’s a mistake, Piggy. The schoolsweek article has English at 110% and computing at 79% so I think they read the wrong line.
Doesn’t say much for their maths skills if the editor didn’t pick up that 79% isn’t exceeding a target!

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noblegiraffe Sat 30-Nov-19 12:22:09

Giving physics and maths teachers more free periods would not go down well amongst teachers of other subjects

My school once gave English teachers an extra PPA because of all the marking. There was a bit of grumbling but no major outrage, tbh. Obviously that got scrapped when the money ran out.

I think teachers are more aware of the reality of the situation than they are given credit for, if Heads said ‘look, we cannot recruit maths teachers as things currently stand so we need to offer a sweetener otherwise the whole school is doomed on progress 8’ then again, there’d be grumbling, but the world would still turn.

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