Teaching vacancies at Hackney primaries ‘above average’, the most recent data suggests

Schools cuts protest

Teachers joined protests against school cuts earlier this year. Photograph: Carlota Calderon

A shortage of primary school teachers in Hackney has led to above-average numbers of vacancies in the classroom, according to data collected in last November’s school census.

There were three openings for full-time permanent teachers in state-funded primary schools across the borough last year, a rate of 0.3 per cent.

The English average is 0.22 per cent, meaning Hackney’s shortage was one third higher.

Ten primary school teaching posts were being filled on a temporary basis, at eight local authority schools and one free school. This accounts for nearly one per cent of teachers in the borough, and was in line with the national average.

The figures are based on information collected in the annual school census in November 2016, and as such present a snapshot of teaching vacancies at that time. But they highlight the dearth of teachers able to meet the needs of a growing pupil population.

There were 394 primary school teaching jobs vacant across the whole of England at the end of 2016, with a further 1,624 temporarily filled.

A teacher is classed as temporarily filling a job if a contract runs for at least one term but less than a year.

Teacher recruitment has long been a problem area across the country and Martin Thompson, executive director of the National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers, said earlier this year: “I think it is a crisis in some areas.”

A report published in February by the House of Commons education select committee said teacher recruitment targets were consistently missed and that shortages are getting worse.

More than one in 10 teaching posts at The Olive School, which is part of the Tauheedal Education Trust chain of free schools, were either vacant or being temporarily filled.

The analysis also suggests there is a growing shortage of permanent full-time teachers taking up posts in Hackney’s special schools. More than one in five teachers at the Garden School in Stoke Newington was working full-time but temporarily filling a place in 2016, more than twice the level in 2015.

Some of the borough’s primary schools have bucked the trend of increasing vacancy levels, with Mossbourne Parkside Academy reducing its number of vacancies.

There were 10 full-time vacancies at the school in 2015, but this fell to just one last year.

It was a different story in Hackney’s nurseries, however, as neither of the state-funded preschools had a shortage of teaching staff in the three years covered by the data.

There was also just one vacancy and nine full-time temporary teachers in Hackney senior schools last year, which was well below the national average.

The state of Hackney’s schools compares favourably with neighbouring Islington, Haringey and Tower Hamlets. The rate of vacant and temporarily filled primary school teaching jobs stands at 2.36 and 2.28 per cent in Islington and Tower Hamlets respectively, more than twice the English average.

Islington and Haringey’s combined secondary school vacancy rates stood at 2.72 and 2.63 per cent, again more than twice the national average.

A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “It is not unusual to have three vacancies across all 53 of Hackney’s primary schools, and to have just under one per cent of primary school teachers working on less than one year contracts, this can be down to a range of reasons, including cover for maternity leave and long-term illness, and indeed sometimes through choice.

“Neither is it unusual for there to be one vacancy for teaching staff across all secondary schools and none at all nurseries during the second term of the school year.

“Schools are responsible for their own recruitment, often advertising on the Hackney Learning Trust website. The Trust supports schools to retain staff by offering an excellent programme of professional development to teachers.”