The government says at least 585 former teachers have answered its call to arms to return to the classroom and cover Covid staffing issues, but there are questions over the figures.
According to the Department for Education, 485 teachers have signed up with supply agencies following the drive, and a further 100 Teach First alumni have also “expressed an interest in supporting the workforce”.
The department said the data was from just 10 per cent of agencies, and that the total number signed up was “likely to be much larger”. However, it would not say why the sample size was so small, or which agencies had provided figures.
According to government data, there are 93 supply agencies that are part of the Crown Commercial Service’s framework used by the government for its call to arms, meaning the government’s figures for the scheme is based on data provided by around nine organisations.
The DfE has also not said how many of the teachers who had signed up had started work in English schools or colleges, nor when the remainder would make it into the classroom.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said he wanted to “thank all former teachers who have come forward to support the national effort and help keep our children in face-to-face education”.
“I call on all other former teachers who are able to do the same to come forward now.”
But some have questioned the figures provided by the DfE, while others have warned the number coming forward is a “drop in the ocean” compared to what is needed.
The DfE reported earlier today that an estimated 4 per cent of teachers and college leaders were off due to Covid-related reasons nationally.
It also comes after FE Week’s sister publication Schools Week revealed last week how some supply agencies had seen limited impact from the call to arms, with delays to DBS checks and other hurdles in the way for those who do come forward.
Adam Sugarman, director of TLTP Education, revealed last week that of 76 ex-teachers who approached his agency, only four were compliant.
He questioned the latest figures from the DfE, and said his agency had not been asked to provide figures.
“The sample data suggests if 10 per cent of agencies are saying they’ve registered 485 ex-teachers, then 100 per cent would equate to nearly 5,000 ex-teachers registered, which is not realistic.”
He also said that if the 10 per cent of agencies that did give a response were larger market leaders, then that might skew the picture.
“If all the biggest, long-lasting agencies make up that 10 per cent then newer agencies with less manpower and smaller databases will not be able to register anywhere near as many ex-teachers.
“If you took the small agencies that make up the 90 per cent I think you would struggle to get anywhere close to 485 ex-teachers registered. I personally do not believe there are more than 1,000 ex-teachers currently registered under this new initiative across the whole of England”
Simone Payne, chief executive of 4myschools, which reported last week hearing from 13 teachers, said her agency had been asked to supply data.
But she said there would “not be many teachers ready for work yet due to vetting, and most do not want to work full time, rather just one to two days a week from our experience”.