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Student crafting education tools

Project description

A shortage of qualified teachers can have a detrimental effect on the life chances of children. Ensuring an adequate supply of qualified teachers is important for the provision of an effective education system.

Primary participants

PI Dr Beng Huat See

CI Professor Stephen Gorard 

Findings and experience

Attracting and retaining qualified teachers is a persistent problem that has plagued many countries for decades despite huge investments to solve the problem. Reanalysis of official data in England suggests that the recent historical patterns of teacher numbers are not closely related to the economic and employment cycles. Therefore, current financial incentives to increase teacher supply are not likely to be effective by themselves.

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How we can solve the teacher shortage issue? 

  • Teacher supply cannot be addressed by tackling workload and pay although it does help. 
  • People who go into teaching are not especially attracted by money. The kind of things that determine who goes into or not are largely set earlier in an individual’s life. 
  • By the time an individual enters university they have more or less made up their minds about their career choice (about teaching or not).  
  • Attracting and keeping people in teaching has to start much earlier while individuals are still in school.   
  • A good school experience, career prospects and making teaching attractive may help to encourage those who have thought about teaching but decided not to be teachers. 
  • Targetted money may be effective in getting people to teach in challenging schools and areas but will not necessarily keep them there. 
  • To increase the supply of high demand subjects, teachers’ salary needs to be high enough to compensate for the wage differential compared to other occupations.  

Importance of our findings

The findings of the survey are relevant and important for teachers, school leaders, policymakers and funders of research. A shortage of qualified teachers can have a detrimental effect on the life chances of children. Ensuring an adequate supply of qualified teachers is important for the provision of an effective education system. Establishing the source of the problem is crucial to finding a solution to the problem. Too much time and money is being spent on purported solutions that have no clear evidence base.  


Latest information

Collaborations and funding: 

The study is funded by the Economic Social and Research Council ES/R007349/1. 

Findings of the study

The findings have: 

  • contributed to the evidence for the Scottish Government Education and Skills Inquiry into teacher retention 2020 
  • provided expert advice to the Cabinet Office on teacher quality 2020, Open Innovation Team 
  • contributed to evidence to the House of Commons Education Select Committee on teachers’ career choice, and attracting and retaining quality teachers. 

Several outputs have been produced from this project in the form of peer reviewed journals and conference papers. 

  • See, B.H. and Gorard, S. (2019) Why don’t we have enough teachers?: A reconsideration of the available evidence, Research Papers in Education, 35, 4, 416-442. 
  • See, B.H., Morris, R., Gorard, S. and El-Soufi, N. (2020). What works in attracting and retaining teachers in challenging schools and areas? Oxford Review of Education. DOI:  10.1080/03054985.2020.1775566.  
  • See, B.H., Gorard, S., Morris, R., and El Soufi, N. (2020) How to recruit and retain teachers in hard-to-staff areas: A systematic review of the empirical evidence (Chapter 11). In Ovenden-Hope, T., (2020) (Ed.). Exploring teacher recruitment and retention: contextual challenges from international perspectives. London: Routledge.
  • Morris, R., See, B.H. and Gorard, S. (2021). Teacher shortage in England: New evidence for understanding and addressing current challenges. IMPACT Journal of the Chartered College of Teaching, 11, 64-67, Spring.
  • See, B.H., Morris, R., Gorard, S., Kokotsaki, D. and Abdi, S. (2020). Teacher recruitment and retention: A critical review of international evidence of most promising interventions. Education Sciences, 10, 262, 1-45. doi:10.3390/educsci10100262
  • See, B.H. (2020). Challenges in using research evidence in improving teacher quality. Research Intelligence Special Issue, 144, 23-24. Autumn. London: BERA.
  • Conference presentations at the BERA Annual Conference 2019 (Manchester), England and The European Conference of Educational Research (ECER): Education in an Era of Risk – the Role of Educational Research for the Future. Hamburg, Germany. Title”: Who doesn't want to be a teacher? And why? 
  • Conference presentation at the BERA Annual Conference 2017. Leeds, England. Title: Alternative explanations to the teacher supply problem.  
  • BERA blog
  • Findings of the study are also covered in The Conversation. 25 November 2015.