Fundamental problems around recruiting and retaining teachers must be addressed if the Government has any ambitions to improve education, school leaders have said.
The annual report published by schools watchdog Ofsted was described as “deeply worrying” by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
Ofsted found that staff shortages are compounding problems in education in England as schools struggle to recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The report stated that many of the problems identified in the sectors are “either created or exacerbated” by workforce issues, and urged staffing to be addressed in order to ensure education and social care can be “resilient in the face of future challenges”.
ASCL said low pay and heavy workloads have made it “a less attractive profession”.
Julie McCulloch, ASCL’s director of policy, said: “The chief inspector highlights the major challenges faced by the education sector, many of which have become more acute as a result of the Government’s inadequate response to the growing recruitment and retention crisis in our schools and colleges.
“As the report outlines, this is having an impact in all education settings, from early years through to further education.”
Sarah Wayman, head of policy and research at The Children’s Society, said children and young people are “paying the price for the Government’s failure to invest in vital services and the workforce they rely on, and to plan for the long-term”.
She said while the effects of the pandemic and more recently rising inflation have been “enormous” new challenges, cuts to Government funding for councils, a shortage of care placements and over-stretched mental health services “are long-standing issues”.
She called for “political will and funding”, adding: “Years of cuts to early support services for children of all ages and their families mean problems are escalating to crisis point, jeopardising the safety, wellbeing and education of young people and making it more likely social care will need to intervene.
“Urgent investment is needed in these services and we need to see better coordination between our education, social care and mental health systems so children receive consistent support.”
The Government reiterated the financial commitments it has made to the sector, with a Department for Education spokesperson saying: “We know the pandemic has impacted children’s learning and social care, and we are incredibly grateful for the resilience and hard work of teachers, head teachers, social workers and other staff.
“We have put in place a wide range of support, including investing £5 billion in education recovery, with over two million tutoring courses now started, and are boosting school budgets to their highest ever level in real terms by 24/25.”