Blackpool is acutely suffering from a national teacher shortage – and the Government needs to raise salaries to make the job more attractive.
Andy Mellor, President of the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) and headteacher at St Nicholas CE Primary in Marton, said the resort is struggling to attract suitable candidates.
He was speaking after a new study by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) warns that England is struggling to find and keep enough teachers, particularly in subjects such as science and maths.
He said Blackpool, like other areas, is finding it hard to recruit the right teachers – and preventing the brain drain.
Mr Mellor said: “In Primary schools it is not the numbers but the quality of people coming through.
“There are outstanding candidates but not the wealth of numbers of high quality applications.
“In secondary, particularly in maths and sciences, it’s like hen’s teeth. And in Blackpool we are losing specialist teachers in this area to senior positions.”
And he called on the Government to make the job more attractive with better salaries to stop good staff leaving.
He said: “If you don’t pay people properly they are going to leave.
“My wife and I are both teachers and when you lose effectively 15 per cent of your salary combined you are going to feel it.
“Everything is getting more expensive but salaries have not followed in line.
“If you have an industry where for 10 years you hear people who are in that industry wanting to get out then you won’t attract people.
“I know someone who has just completed a Physics degree at university.
“They could start as a teacher on £22k a year or take a job offer in industry on £70k. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what most would do.”
The issue of teacher shortages in Blackpool is not a new one.
In 2003, education chiefs flew to Australia in the hope of recruiting specialist teachers to the resort, with limited success.
WHAT ARE THE FINDINGS?
The report says there has been around a 10 per cent increase in pupil numbers since 2010, while teacher numbers have remained steady, according to EPI’s analysis.
At the same time, teacher training applications are down by around five per cent.
“Exit rates”, the numbers leaving the profession have also increased, the report argues, particularly for those in the early stages of their career.
Teacher pay has dropped by around 10 per cent in real terms over the last eight years but adds that a recent government announcement of pay rises for teachers of up to 3.5 per cent from next month will halt this decline.
WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT SAY?
A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “The Education Secretary has been clear that there are no great schools without great teachers and his top priority is to make sure teaching remains an attractive and fulfilling profession.
“There are still more than 450,000 teachers in our classrooms, 11,900 more than in 2010, and increasing numbers are returning to the profession.
“We recently announced a fully-funded pay rise for classroom teachers and we are working with school leaders and unions on a strategy to drive recruitment and boost retention of teachers and strip away unnecessary workload.
“This is on top of the range of financial incentives we already offer to help attract the brightest and best into our classrooms.”