Report reveals Portsmouth and Hampshire are nation’s worst hit for specialist teachers shortage

Portsmouth Cabinet Member for Education Cllr Suzy Horton
Portsmouth Cabinet Member for Education Cllr Suzy Horton

A ‘WORRYING’ report has shown Portsmouth and Hamsphire have more non specialist teachers than any other Local Authority.

The report by the Education Policy Institute shows less than 30 percent of the region’s teachers are teaching GCSE classes in high priority subjects (maths, physics, chemistry, science, languages) yet don’t hold a relevant degree in that subject. Less than 40 percent don’t hold a degree in the remaining subjects.

Portsmouth’s cabinet member for education, Suzy Horton, said: ‘The findings are very worrying. It is all linked to the national crisis of recruiting and retaining teachers – particularly in STEM subjects (science technology, engineering an maths).’ 

Whilst the report does indicate a national trend other areas are currently fairing considerably better.

London, Bath, Somerset, Peterborough; Calderdale, Sefton, North Yorkshire, Hartlepool, Rochdale, Trafford and Darlington all have double the percentage of specialist teachers.

Councillor Horton believes public perception and finance are behind the situation in Portsmouth.

‘Unfortunately graduates with a specialist degree don’t tend to make a beeline for Portsmouth. As a city we often get a bad press which can create an inaccurate perception. The cost of living and in particular property is also more expensive which results in teachers often applying to other parts of the country,’ explained Councillor Horton.

Executive headteacher of the Salterns Trust, Steve Ladez, who oversees Trafalgar and Admiral Lord Nelson schools, believes the increasing trend is in part down to budgetary constraints.

‘To be efficient with your budget you have to deploy teachers outside of their specialism otherwise some members of staff would end up with only half a timetable. I am particularly worried that this report focuses on KS4 examination classes where this argument becomes less valid as you would want a specialist. In Maths for example without specialist knowledge a teacher can only take the students so far.’

National Education Union vice president, Amanda Martin, believes the current situation is detrimental for staff and students. 

‘The implications for pupils are obvious.You have already overworked teachers trying to learn whole new content. This exacerbates the problem of attracting teachers into the profession,’ explained Ms Martin.