Wigan schools facing crisis over staff leaving 'in droves'

Wigan schools are facing staff shortages
Wigan schools are facing staff shortages

Wigan schools are facing a staffing crisis as recruitment fails to keep up with those leaving “in their droves”.

Education leaders have called for a huge government funding boost and for more people to join the profession as applications continue to fall.

The National Education Union has blamed “increasing pressures” and “continuous cuts” for the disparity between those coming in and those going out. And the shortage does not just stop at teachers, with numbers of support staff also reducing in schools across the borough.

“We have had yet another year of reduced intake,” said Max Atkins, NEU secretary. “You have people leaving earlier because they cannot cope with the workload, coupled with the year on year funding deficit for schools.

“For the past three or four years schools have been having to make staff redundant.

“It starts off as always with the support staff. Then a year or two later they come back and have to get rid of teachers too. Last year I visited 20 schools in Wigan where staff are being made redundant.”

The crisis is affecting all establishments, from primary schools to high schools, both state-funded and within academies. The problem is it’s all about accountability now and less about teaching the kids,” added Mr Atkins. “Everyone is under pressure, including the headteachers.

“Teachers are leaving at alarming rates and those that are left are having more and more put upon them.”

Amid concerns, one trust is hoping to encourage new trainees into the profession by providing an alternative to the two main routes, PGCE and the GTP (gradate teaching programme), the latter of which has been phased out due to funding pressures.

Kingsbridge Teacher Training offers aspiring teachers on-the-job training with bursaries and funding of up £30,000 depending on subjects. This option offers a different take to the PGCE, which usually gives students six weeks in the classroom throughout their training.

Sue Darbyshire, chief executive of Community First Academy Trust, which offers the programme, is hoping youngsters and those looking for a career change will consider education.

“Walk around the corridors of any of the schools who offer Kingsbridge Teacher Training, and the message is clear: there are few jobs that are as varied and rewarding as teaching,” she said.

“It saddens me, however, that many people rule out teaching as a career before even really considering it as a possibility.

“You only have to pick up the paper to understand there is a shortage of teachers across the UK – and you of course have to ask why?

“The headlines state that last year was the first time the number of people leaving teaching has exceeded those entering teaching for about half a decade.

“On top of this, there are expected to be over 500,000 more children being educated in our schools by about 2025. If we don’t do something differently, then we are going to run out of quality teachers in this country.

“Teaching is such a fantastic career that can open so many doors. Some recent graduates have gone off to not only teach in other countries, but also to train other teachers all over the world. ”