This sector comprises of compulsory education for 11 to 16- year olds following the national curriculum covering key stage 3 and 4. In England, mandatory subjects include English, Mathematics, R.E /Ethics, Science and engagement in Physical Education. ICT and some sort of citizenship study is also taught in key stage 3. Pupils opt to take subjects from their own choice in addition to the mandatory ones in years 10 and 11. General Certificate of School Education (GCSE) are taken in year 11.
Recruitment & Retention Issues
This sector in the UK education system is facing the most challenging period ahead because of the predicted surge in pupil numbers. The substantial teacher supply challenge over the next decade, means that secondary schools will need 15,000 more teachers between 2018 and 2025 to meet a 15 per cent rise in pupil numbers. Although teacher numbers have been falling generally nationwide, there is extra pressure in this sector due to increasing numbers of teachers leaving the state sector and insufficient numbers entering the secondary sector.
According to some statistics, the number of in-year vacancies and temporarily filled posts, has doubled during the period between 2010/11 and 2017/18.
This sector is facing specific challenges in the recruitment and retention of teachers in long-standing shortage subjects such as physics, mathematics, modern foreign languages and chemistry. The Government has targeted solutions to attract more teachers in these subjects by means of plans to spread out training bursary payments during the first five years of teachers’ careers. Instead of a one-off lump sum for entering training, there will be smaller up-front payments and retention payments in the third and fifth years of teaching to encourage more teachers to stay in the state sector for longer.
Secondary schools have begun to improve part-time and flexible working opportunities available to their staff to increase retention of their teachers and to encourage more returners back into the profession.