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School workforce in England: November 2021

Teacher in front of whiteboard with students

Single reference for all school workforce statistics based on staff working in publicly funded schools in England. Read the document here.

This publication sets out the:

  • numbers of, and full time equivalent (FTE) numbers of teachers and support staff in service
  • number of entrants to, and leavers from, teaching
  • teacher retention
  • teacher retirements
  • characteristics of teachers and support staff, including gender, age and ethnic group
  • teachers’ pay
  • teachers’ qualifications
  • curriculum taught by secondary school teachers
  • teacher vacancies
  • teacher sickness absence
  • pupil-to-teacher ratios

The release includes information at national, regional and local authority levels, and associated data files at school level.


Sector Response

Commenting on data released by the Department for Education today, covering the school workforce as well as children, Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:

“The latest information confirms that the serious and deep-rooted teacher recruitment and retention problems remain. On a range of measures, it is clear that the problems are getting worse – even before the impact of the Government’s plans to cut the value of teacher pay.

“The number of newly-qualified entrants is lower than in every year but one since 2012, despite a large boost to the number of teacher trainees in 2020/21.The number of teachers moving out of service increased by almost a fifth compared with the previous year. The number of teachers leaving within their first year has increased to 1 in 8. The number of teachers leaving last year increased to 36,262 up by more than four thousand on the year before, despite a reduction in the number of teachers retiring. Almost a quarter of teachers leave the profession within three years and almost a third within five years. This reflects the findings of our own surveys and is not a sustainable situation.

“Pupil:teacher ratios have not improved in the primary sector despite the fall in primary pupil numbers, and have increased in the secondary sector.This adds to the already critical problems caused by excessive workload.

“The Government plans more real terms cuts to teacher pay, adding to the cuts of around a fifth since 2010.Pay cuts, and the failure of the Government to tackle excessive workload, are bound to intensify recruitment and retention problems that are already critical.This will cause serious damage to education, so urgent action to address these problems is vital for parents and young people as well as for teachers. Instead of planning to cut pay again, the Government must protect teachers and other educators by implementing fully-funded and inflation-proofed cost of living increases across all pay scales.”

Commenting on the proposals, James Zuccollo,Director for School Workforce at the Education Policy Institute (EPI), said:   

“It is reassuring to see that teacher retention rates had not, on average, worsened since the previous year. However, this data was collected in November 2021, so most of the decisions to stay or go were made in early 2021, when schools had very recently been closed and Ofsted inspections were still suspended. Consequently, this data may not reflect a post-pandemic world.

Similarly, the data shows that the teaching workforce has grown by another 4,400 FTE after increasing by nearly 7,300 FTE in the previous year, but it is too early to say if this is a result of policy changes. It may still be the effect of the pandemic and the Department for Education’s data shows that recruitment to teacher training is weak this year as the economy picks up.

The government’s plan to reintroduce retention payments combined with the planned increase in starting salaries remain welcome policy decisions.”

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