In England there is currently a shortage of math teachers; among the factors that might be influencing this shortage are that departments lose 40% of teachers during their first six years in the profession, and there are higher private sector wages for math graduates. At the same time, demand for math teachers has increased due to policy measures to increase participation in math for 16 to 18 year olds. To examine what impact this has had, the Nuffield Foundation commissioned researchers from FFT Education Datalab to look at how secondary schools have responded to the shortage.
Allen and Sims (2018) used data from England’s School Workforce Census and found that schools are using their most experienced and well-qualified math teachers for year groups taking high-stakes exams (GCSEs, A-levels, and GCSE retakes), and using inexperienced math teachers and teachers who trained in other subjects to fill staffing gaps elsewhere.
- In the most disadvantaged schools (those with more pupils eligible for free school meals), pupils across all year groups are more likely to be taught by an inexperienced teacher.
- At Key Stage 5 (age 16-18) pupils in the most disadvantaged schools are almost twice as likely to have an inexperienced teacher as in the least disadvantaged schools (9.5% versus 5.3%).
The report recommended us to further understand the math teacher shortage problem across schools and year groups by collecting direct measures of shortage data, such as applications per post, appointable applicants interviewed, headteacher perceptions of quality of applicants.
Source (Open Access): Allen, R. & Sims, S. (2018). How do shortages of maths teachers affect the within-school allocation of math teachers to pupils? London: Nuffield Foundation. Retrieved online: http://www.nuffieldfoundation.org/reports-andbriefing-papers