The Primary sector involves compulsory education for all children between the ages of 4 to 11-year olds who live in the UK. Whether state run or an independent school, the national curriculum is followed and delivered over a 39-week period from September to July. The foundation stage is covered in nursery/ reception followed by key stage 1 for years 1 and 2, then key stage 2 for years 3 to 6.

Recruitment & Retention Issues

Teacher supply in the primary school system has increased to meet rising demand over the last decade. The Department of Education has forecast that primary schools will need to maintain teacher numbers over the next decade, to counteract the numbers of teachers leaving the profession with those entering it. However, the numbers of primary teachers leaving the profession has risen between 2011/12 and 2017/18, therefore, the number of vacancies has increased, suggesting a risk of there being some supply challenges ahead.

According to research, in general for teachers, there is an unmet demand for part-time working among full-time teachers than there is for similar professionals. Around a quarter of full-time teachers (23 per cent) would like to reduce their working hours, regardless of less pay, compared to 17 per cent of similar professionals. This may be due to most of the workforce in primary schools being women, 82.4% who may have family life to juggle and it also may reflect a growing concern that teachers’ have an unmanageable workload.

Although there has been a relatively strong recruitment and retention drive in primary schools overall, the rate of vacancies and temporarily filled posts has increased since 2010. This may indicate that some shortages are emerging despite stabilisation of pupil numbers and an increase in part-time working may be a recruitment solution.

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