The UK is similar to other developed western countries where they have an established school education system for children to learn from early years to secondary age level at 11-18 years old.
Education in the UK is compulsory for children from 5 years old where they must be enrolled at a primary school and attend for 6-7 years term time 5 days a week, Monday to Friday from 09.00-15.00 each day.
United Kingdom has a growing population with over 65 million people with new children being born daily and immigration into the country.
Schools for primary age children can be found in villages, towns and cities with a number of primary schools in built up areas to accommodate children locally depending on which part of the city or town they live.
In towns, villages and cities in N Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England female & male primary school class teachers are always in demand the UK. Popular locations to live don’t have much primary teacher shortage, although London because of cost of living or less desirable areas of UK regularly has KS1/2 school teacher shortages.
Is there a shortage of primary school teachers in UK?
Since 2010 there’s been a shortage of primary school teachers in the UK as not enough new people are training as school teachers to keep up with child population and experienced teachers leave the profession or retire.
Not all areas of the UK have a shortage of KS1 & KS2 teachers as popular villages, towns and cities have an over supply of primary teachers living in or commute to popular locations.
People in the UK have traditionally gravitated to living in more desirable areas & larger cities from Manchester, Oxford, Guilford. Cardiff, Glasgow, Norwich and Edinburgh. In these areas primary teacher jobs are competitive for applicants as a number of suitable qualified primary teachers apply for each position advertised and stay long term in they’re post.
In contrast Aberdeen, Stole-On-Trent, London, Highland, Moray areas don’t always find it easy to recruit primary class teachers for various reasons including location or high cost of living, such as London.
Number of teachers required per school
With 10-12 schools in smaller UK cities for primary children there’s a requirement for a number of teachers who teach at each individual school. One teacher per classroom means any school day and year a certain amount of qualified teachers are required to be employed in UK schools to teach children with no more than 30 pupils per class.
In addition, to cover teacher illness or maternity leave the UK has supply teachers that cover classes when the permanent teacher is away from school for a certain length of time.
Gender of teachers in UK primary schools
Department of Education England data shows male primary class teachers are less represented in classrooms around the UK from Scotland, England and Wales. Being female or male it doesn’t make a difference in the recruitment process of employing a suitable class teacher for primary children, although other factors come into play.
Qualified or trainee male primary school teachers are in demand around the UK as they remain under represented while female primary age teachers dominate the staff room in the primary education sector. With around 15% male primary teachers overall in England a shortage of male role models exist.
Indeed, a fair number of primary age children attend school in the UK only being taught by female teachers with no male teacher employed at good number of primary schools.
Primary school teacher UK job vacancies
At any one time of the year there’s dozens of jobs available for primary teachers in England, Wales and Scotland from reception to KS1/2. Jobs are advertised by local councils on they’re website, teacher vacancies England, and schools from December/January to start the following August in Scotland or September in England & Wales.
Some schools and councils require re-advertise primary teacher vacancies as no suitable applicant has applied even though it’s in demand teaching area.
Job ads for year 1 to 6 in primary education teachers are also being advertised for longer attempting to attract a wider list of applicant if more than one teaching position is available.
Head teachers look to attract experienced and newly qualified teachers to teach at the school they run making sure a balance of potential new long serving teachers are employed to experienced teachers that may retire.
Recruitment & retention or incentives or offered to suitable primary teachers, such as TLR points to attract good candidates to teach at a school or retain them longer term.
Teachers looking for career advancement opportunities phase leader and headteacher positions arise at large & small schools up and down the UK each year.
Causes affecting the shortage of primary teachers
Salary compared to other professions with real term lag behind private sector pay as teachers pay has gone up each year slower than other employment sectors. “The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) that the starting salary for teachers should reach £30,000 by 2023”.
Work life balance as a teacher can be problematic if you’re not organised and manage time effectively. Primary teachers do get around 13 weeks off each year although they’ll work more than 50 hours a week during term time lesson planning, marking, admin and career development.
Behaviour issues in school that some teachers don’t wish to manage anymore result in trainee teachers not completing initial training.
Although primary age children’s behaviour is manageable for the vast majority of teachers some experienced teachers each year decided to move secondary teaching or leave the teaching profession for a career change.
UK Parliament research findings show “Overall pupil numbers are expected to decrease slightly by 2026, driven by a 7% decrease in nursery and primary pupils” with falling rates of births, meaning less children being enrolled at primary school.
Hundreds of teacher vacancies will remain open each year for primary teachers beyond 2026, although less teacher shortage for primary age children.