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"We are facing a teacher recruitment crisis like no other"

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Published on 30 May 2022

Professor Lynne McKenna
Professor Lynne McKenna

Professor Lynne McKenna, Dean of the Faculty of Education and Society at the University of Sunderland, spoke to over 100 Department for Education staff at an online DfE Women’s Network this week. 

In the skills sharing session, Professor McKenna discussed her career and leadership journey to date.

Professor McKenna - the first external guest to be invited to present at one of these events - said: “I was very honoured to be invited to speak at the DfE Women’s Network about my experience of being a woman leader in education.

“Discussing how my leadership style has changed over time, I recommended Steve Munby’s (Ex CEO National College for School Leadership) book ‘Imperfect Leadership’ where Steve describes himself as an imperfect leader.

“I wholeheartedly identify with this. I don’t claim to have all the answers. I subscribe to a set of values which include authenticity, professionalism, collegiality, positivity, transparency and being pro-active rather than reactive. I try to be authentic and true to myself and my values and beliefs.

“While I have lots of experience and a clear vision of what works and what is possible, I depend upon the expertise, knowledge and practice of staff within the faculty to support me in achieving the aspirational plans I have for the Faculty, the University and for teacher education and development in the UK and in the International sector.”

In response to the question ‘What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for leaders in education at the moment?’ Lynne responded:

“For school leaders, the challenges are clearly around catch- up and recovery as the world emerges from the pandemic.  Our children have had over two years of disruption to their education.  Of course, school leaders are managing this at a time in education where teachers are feeling rather bruised, battered and exhausted. 

“Once the heroes of the pandemic, the profession is once again finding itself under enormous pressure, with increased workloads and bureaucracy.

“All of these factors are contributing to what is being known as the ‘Great Resignation’ as experienced teachers are leaving the profession and there are not enough new teachers to replace them.  Alongside this, there is an unprecedented decline in Initial Teacher Training (ITT) applications which means the sector is facing a teacher recruitment crisis like no other. This at a point in time when we need teachers most to support with the recovery of ‘lost learning’. 

“ITT providers have made valiant efforts to recruit to ITT programmes during this time.  Alongside this, providers have endured four major disruption which have been distracting to their own operation and to recruitment. There has been the unexplainable market review of ITT, the creation of the Institute of Teaching, the requirement for ITT providers go through a nonsensical accreditation process in order to deliver ITT from 2024, and changes to the Ofsted ITT Inspection framework, which have resulted in more than half of providers inspected under the new framework being downgraded. 

“The agendas here are very clear and the future of the teaching profession and thus the education of our nation’s children is in serious jeopardy and will have long reaching effects for years to come.

“Of course, there are opportunities ahead. For us at the University of Sunderland, we have much to look forward to. We have the introduction of a new BA (Hons) Primary Education with SEND which has been developed with our school partners. Most importantly, we are delighted that we are one of the pilot providers of International Teacher Qualified Status (iQTS).

“This is an opportunity to demonstrate that in the UK and particularly in Sunderland we truly are a world leading provider of initial teacher training. We have much to be proud of and to look forward to.”

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