It is bad enough the Government using spin and blame culture to deflect criticism. Even worse is the fact that they are incompetent at it and contemptuous enough of the public not to care. The report by the National Audit Office (NAO) on the state of teacher recruitment (available here) has delivered a damning indictment of Government policy. The Government claims that the overall pupil/teacher ratio has not changed. But as the NAO point out, it is in the fine detail where the Government is failing badly. For example over half (54%) of head teachers in schools with large proportions of disadvantaged pupils report recruiting good quality teachers to be “a major problem”, compared with a third of those in other schools. So it is the education of already disadvantaged children which suffers. This is further evidence of what is apparent with this Government, that social mobility is a phrase to be banded about rather than a serious issue to be addressed. But that is hardly a surprise; why should privilege career politicians be concerned with helping the disadvantaged?
The second worrying fact emerges when you slice the figures by subject. Serious difficulties lie in recruiting in Maths, Science and Technology subjects where attracting quality staff is a problem. We are continually being told by Government that a high value successful economy is vital for affording good quality public services. So complacency in this area is particularly disastrous.
The response by the Department for Education is appalling. They provide bland statements on the overall national picture which the NAO has pointed out is exactly the problem! They then attack the teaching unions as the biggest threat to recruitment while attempting to point out that the UK now has the most qualified teacher workforce in history. So clearly the unions are not having a detrimental effect. Ultimately Education is like many other Departments with Ministers trying to make a mark; worrying about their careers when it would be better if they did their job properly and delivered real results. That is assuming that they are interested in greater social mobility and a successful high wage economy in the future for Britain. Maybe that is simply more spin.