Teacher Shortage? What Teacher shortage!

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Application for ITET

At the moment within school we have a Cover Supervisor who aspires to be a Teacher of PE. He has a 1st Class BSc Degree in Sports Science and also a Masters in Biomechanical Analysis, both from aRussell Group Universities. He has played rugby to a high level and holds both a Level 2 in rugby and cricket. He has been at the school for just over a year and he is well liked and respected by colleagues and hero worshipped by the students. In a short time he has fully involved himself in school life; running sports teams, helping the CCF section and also has started a lunchtime film club. Having myself been involved with ITET at two different Universities I thought he would be a very welcome addition to the teaching profession. On paper he sounds very strong. He applied for 2 different PE PGCE places this year and also a Schools Direct place. He was called to interview for all three. Here was his experience:

PGCE at a University in London

Taking in his normal travel time to London by car he added an extra two hours so he could arrive early and prepare for his presentation, lesson and interview. However traffic was not to be kind that morning and he experienced delays on both the M4 and M25 and arrived 35 minutes late. He kept in contact with the university as soon as he realised he wasn’t going to make it on time. Once he arrived, he was taken into a side room, and was thanked for his attendance but they wouldn’t be carrying on with the interview. He promptly got back in his car and drove back to school.

PGCE at a University out of London

No traffic jams and arrived early. There were six candidates including himself, although he is unsure how many places were available. The day was split up into three. 20 minute session on teaching basketball, a 3 minute presentation on the place and purpose of Physical Education in the curriculum and an interview. After finishing his teaching session, he and three other candidates were called into a room and informed that they wouldn’t be going any further on the interview. He asked for feedback and they said they would email him. He has called them and emailed them twice for feedback. He is still waiting for any form of feedback after three weeks.

Schools Direct Place (unpaid)

His latest interview was last week for a Schools Direct place. Once again it was 6 candidates on the day but for only one place. This time he managed to get through the whole day, but unfortunately he wasn’t successful in gaining the place. They promised to phone him with feedback and promptly did that same evening. He was informed ‘your application was very good and so was your presentation, however in your lesson you called the class ‘guys’ twice and your positioning was a little off’. He asked them to clarify this and they responded they didn’t think he could see the whole class all of the time.

He has obviously found the whole process a little demoralising and is no longer sure whether he wants to try again next year. Obviously if he wants to be a full-time time teacher, he needs to be a little more resilient, as we experience set backs everyday in the the classroom, but I can understand his viewpoint. He has spent a considerable amount of time searching for courses, applying, planning and preparing for lessons, interviews and presentations, and then travelling there and going through the whole process. We know how time consuming that is, especially when holding down a full-time job. To go through that and only receive 3 pieces of feedback on how he could improve; don’t turn up late, don’t call a class ‘guys’ and try to make sure you can see everyone at the same time is quite frankly disgraceful and unprofessional.

Teacher Shortage? What Teacher Shortage!

There has been a lot of talk in the press of a looming teacher shortage for September 2015. Looking at the data this is obviously not the case for Physical Education.

Screen Shot 2014-12-14 at 17.16.13

The data also shows that the Qualification of candidates is also pretty good for PE, with over 70% of them having a 2:1 degree or higher.

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I can also testify to this with my own experience. In the last three years I have had to replace three PE teachers in my department who have gained promotions at other schools. In all three cases I easily had over 120 applicants for each position that came up. ITET for PE are obviously oversubscribed and therefore, no doubt, can pick the best candidates. Perhaps our cover supervisor, no matter how impressive he is to me, wasn’t the best candidate.

A professional and positive process

No one, including myself, takes rejection particularly well. I have a strong belief the process of interviewing for a job or a place on Teacher Training process should be a positive and developmental one no matter what the outcome, especially if that person seeks ways to improve. When shortlisting candidates for interview I score them on key criteria we desire for that role. If they ever ask reasons for not being called to interview I can clearly state why and give them advice on their application. With regards to candidates I have called to interview, but were unsuccessful, I’m always willing to give written or telephone feedback, at a later date, if they require it. It is never good to received feedback immediately after you have been informed you haven’t been successful, you never take anything in. Candidates for teacher training who are unsuccessful should be given clear guidance on what they can do to develop further and improve their chances in future interviews.

I know PE is currently oversubscribed and I am making links between one person’s experience and the whole process across the country. However along with pay, PRP, workload, constant changes in subject requirements and poor press you can understand why people might stay away from a career in teaching. There is a need to attract the best people into teaching and this requires treating people with a certain amount of respect. If someone has clearly made the effort to pursue a career in teaching,the least we can do is give them some time, advice and try to treat them with some professional courtesy. PE in secondary schools may be oversubscribed, but are we in a position to be turning people with aspirations against a career in teaching?

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5 thoughts on “Teacher Shortage? What Teacher shortage!

  1. I’m not really sure how to reply to this piece, however I felt compelled to do so.
    I think I speak from a position of experience on this topic, having lost my job almost 12 months to the day due to a merging of two schools. Since then I have found it impossible to find another job within PE anywhere remotely close to my location. This suggests a massive overpopulation in the PE sector of schools. I was however very fortunate to have developed a second specialism in Maths and have since found employment as a Maths teacher. This area of education is woefully understaffed.
    With that in mind, I think the ‘grading’ of the school has a massive effect on numbers of applications. The school was at previously advertised on three separate occasions for Maths teachers and received ZERO applications.

    Where am I going with this? I’m not sure still. What I can say in full confidence is that good teachers will always find work. It might not be what they want, but there is still a demand. There is a teacher teacher shortage. Granted, not in some subject areas, but a shortage is still there. Maybe more teachers should take a leaf out of my book and diversify a little?

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    1. Your response has made me think about the life-cycle of a PE Teacher. I’m not sure it is one with longevity for a number of reasons. Firstly the physically demanding nature of the job is draining, which I find difficult at time. I can’t see myself being able to cope with a full-time PE job into my late 50’s and early 60’s. There is a lot of research out there that shows PE teachers who do work full-time to that age suffer from quite bad joint problems. Secondly I’m not sure I would be the right sort of role model. I know this might offend some older and more experienced PE Teachers out there, but do you really want your child being taught PE by someone in there 60’s. I think your suggestion of diversification is a wise one, and something that is weighing heavily on my mind. I do love my day to day teaching job, but could I realistic do it well till I’m 67? Perhaps PE teaching is a young persons game? I’d be interested to hear what you think. Thanks for commenting and good luck with the Maths teaching.

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      1. I’m only just turned 32 myself so don’t fall into the category you describe. I have seen it within departments I have worked in before though and absolutely agree. It’s something I’ve said many times before. I have said to my wife that I always planned to try and retire at 55 for the very reasons you suggest. PE absolutely is a young persons game. If I can’t do it myself anymore, what sort of role model can I be? Doesn’t matter how good I am at teaching. It just doesn’t work.
        I’ve found the transition to maths ok. There is a completely different type of workload. Gone are the two or three nights a week where I came home after fixtures and my son had gone to bed. I now have to split my time. I allocate time after work and before picking children up. Then I have (sometimes) to start it all again once they’re in bed. They do say they PE teachers transfer well to maths. I’m not sure why but I seem to be doing ok.

        In my mind, your initial post begs the question ‘are NQTs and student teachers properly equipped?’. Far too many PE trainees that I’ve worked with have no secondary subject and thus have trouble finding jobs. One has since returned to working as a TA just to be in a school. Are we doing our new colleagues a disservice by not properly preparing them for the reality of teaching life?

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  2. As I read this I thought mostly about the skills that young teachers need to cause learning to happen in classrooms. Very soon the education industry is going to realise that those skills are not the presentation of material, subject knowledge and crowd control (we can call it classroom management if you prefer) and are the knack of asking brilliant questions, the sensory accuity of spotting when a learner is faltering in motivation, coordination or confidence and the finesse to intervene and recalibrate a learner back towards learning behaviours that are specific to them. It is also the invention of developing the creative skills that all children have from birth.

    Real education has changed and new teachers not only need to be attracted to the profession but attracted to the new profession of coaching and provoking learners and learning. Each of us needs to recognise this and be prepared to change and guide our new and existing colleagues towards the real future of education

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