Your Time to Teach: Portsmouth council launches campaign to tackle teacher shortages during pandemic

THE city council has launched a campaign to recruit more teachers for September, with the number of applicants for teaching jobs and training falling due to the pandemic.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 5:06 pm

The Your Time to Teach campaign is looking to attract current and future teachers to work in the city, with education leaders saying the pandemic could actually prove to be ‘a good time’ to enter the profession.

Cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton, said: ‘Teaching is about making a difference to children’s lives and this will never be more needed than when pupils return to school.

‘Some people who may have been homeschooling their children during lockdown may have really enjoyed the experience and want to consider teaching as a career.’

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Deputy director of children's services, Mike Stoneman, and cabinet member for education, Cllr Suzy Horton, are keen to recruit more teachers to the city despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Deputy director of Children’s Services, Mike Stoneman, added: ‘With the current economic situation and certain sectors potentially struggling, teaching could represent the opportunity for a career change.’

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While there are currently 11 unfilled vacancies across the city’s schools, the council has said the figure is likely to be higher. This is because academy chains, which oversee a large proportion of the city’s schools, can appoint staff independently.

The council confirmed the shortage situation had been compounded by the pandemic.

Essential Teaching UK founder, Gavin Lumsden, has seen a big decline in the number of teacher training applicants since the onset of the pandemic.

Mr Stoneman said: ‘There was a demand for teachers before Covid and this could certainly have a put a dampner on the situation.

‘We have a particular shortage in our STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, maths) and modern foreign languages.’

The city’s educationalists are also concerned about potential uptake of new teacher training placements through Portsmouth Education Partnership’s training providers – with many providing a vocational ‘on the job’ route into the profession.

Essential Teaching, which is based in the city, has already seen a sharp decline in applicants compared to the same time last year.

Founder Gavin Lumsden said: ‘We normally get a lot of our recruits from people leaving the armed forces and those looking for a career change. Due to the current instability we have had no applicants from these two sectors.’

While Portsmouth Teaching School Alliance has ‘maintained its numbers’, training course director Lynn Nicholls is concerned the pandemic may have affected peoples’ ‘awareness of the ongoing need for teachers’ ready for September.

To ensure social distancing and to overcome restrictions on movement, schools and training providers have been carrying out interviews and recruitment assessments online.

Mr Stoneman said: ‘Our partners across Portsmouth are working hard to recruit teachers to support local children for schools in the city. The campaign reminds those interested in teaching that recruitment continues despite Covid-19.’

With 91.8 per cent of the city’s schools rated as good or outstanding, the council is keen to promote the benefits of training and teaching in Portsmouth.

Cllr Horton said: ‘Portsmouth is a great place to live and is a lot cheaper than many other cities. There’s also a real togetherness across the city’s schools which has really come to the fore during the coronavirus crisis.’

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