A Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Question has today revealed that the Department for Education spent just £3882 on the campaign to bring retired and ex-teachers back to the profession to fill Covid-related absences.
It comes as just 485 ex-teachers have been recruited by the Education Secretary’s failed recruitment drive, while official data from the Department for Education yesterday reported 44,000 teachers and school leaders have been absent from schools across the country.
In a Government press release, Nadhim Zahawi claimed the campaign was part of [doing] “everything in my power to protect education”, yet spent less than two months average salary for a teacher on the entire campaign.
Teacher absences across the country are now reaching crisis point with Zahawi planning for shortages of 25%. Last weekend on the BBC Sunday Morning show the Education Secretary said the campaign statistics will not yet be released but the scheme attracted hundreds of teachers.
Liberal Democrats have said that tens of thousands of ex-teachers may be needed to fill the gaps of disruption caused by the Omicron variant, adding the failed recruitment drive was “lifeless” and “too little, too late.”
Liberal Democrats Spokesperson for Education, Munira Wilson MP, said: “Time and again, the Conservative Government has proven that children are just an afterthought to them. This lifeless recruitment campaign is once again too little, too late. The Education Secretary is standing idly by as schools are facing a tidal wave of teacher absences. His failure to prepare has led to a car crash as Covid mixes with the return to school.
“Teacher absences across the country are skyrocketing, yet creating an army of reserves for teachers should have been done 18 months ago before schools reopened. To see such a small amount of money spent on getting ex-teachers back into the classroom, at a time of crisis, just proves the Education Secretary’s heart’s not in it.
“If the Conservatives want to get a grip on this situation before it gets even worse, they need to show they are pulling out all the stops to fill these teacher absences and keep our children in school.”