Teacher retention fears in Northumberland schools

There are fears over teacher retention in Northumberland schools.
There are fears over teacher retention in Northumberland schools.

The three-tier system and the small size of many schools in Northumberland makes recruiting teachers challenging, a council report has said.

A working group which had looked at issues of teacher recruitment and retention in the county reported its findings to Thursday’s meeting of the family and children’s services committee.

Allowing newly-qualified teachers to experience different schools across partnerships or federations to counter the specific difficulties of recruiting to three-tier and small schools was just one of 10 recommendations in the report.

Other suggestions include better links with the region’s universities and teacher-training colleges, the creation of a distinct recruitment website for Northumberland, further enhancements to pay and conditions, and establishing an awards ceremony to acknowledge good teaching and leadership.

John Sanderson, a teachers’ union representative on the committee, said there was ‘real unease’ in the profession among older teachers that while the word to described them used to be ‘experienced’, now it is ‘expensive’.

He added that he knew of five physics teachers who had left teaching at a time when the Government is offering £28,000 to people to train as physics teachers, some of whom don’t then take a job.

Another union representative, Richard Woolhouse, said that in Northumberland, there are a number of young teachers in small schools with a very limited support network, although he felt the key issue to tackle is teachers’ workloads – a national problem.

Coun Deirdre Campbell said: “I don’t think teachers get paid enough. In the good old days, teachers got a job and then stayed there until the day they died.

“We have to do something to encourage teachers to come into the area and stay in the area. The North East is a wonderful area to live, but sometime we don’t sell it enough.”

She suggested providing young teachers with houses when they started out, in the same way that key workers were given accommodation in the past.

The committee chairman, Coun Guy Renner-Thompson, said he was keen that something was done with the report. Council officers said they would take it away and look at what could be done, how and over what time-scales.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service