It has long been recognised that schools serving disadvantaged communities are more likely to be staffed by teachers without qualified teacher status, with fewer years of experience and by non-specialist science and maths teachers. Inequality in access to suitably qualified, high quality teachers is likely to be an important contributor to the attainment gap that exists between students who come from disadvantaged families and those who do not.

Key findingsof this report:

  1. Schools serving disadvantaged communities struggle to recruit suitable teachers
  • Schools serving disadvantaged communities experience greater recruitment difficulties, mirroring turnover statistics in administrative data.
  • In general, these social inequalities are more pronounced in the secondary sector (and shortages there are worse overall).
  • Social inequalities are worst in core subjects of maths and sciences, where one-in-three departments within schools serving the most disadvantaged communities saying they are currently not well-staffed.


  1. Teachers in disadvantaged schools are less attached to teaching as a career
  • Teachers in secondary schools serving disadvantaged communities are the most likely to say they will soon leave the profession and seem least attached to their work.


  1. Teachers believe schools serving disadvantaged communities are harder to teach in
  • Reputation matters: more affluent schools seem to be attractive due to their ‘reputation’.
  • Teachers overwhelmingly agree that teaching in schools serving more disadvantaged communities tends to involve harder work and requires more skills.
  • Teachers typically prefer to teach classes with higher attaining pupils and fewer behaviour problems.


  1. Shortages are best dealt with by pursuing local recruitment strategies
  • 80% of teachers are willing to consider a local move to a school with recruitment challenges, provided the conditions are right.
  • Though expensive, the right conditions – pay, promotion, and a reduced timetable – are attractive to many.
  • However there are other low-cost perks that schools could also offer, including lower marking loads, quality training opportunities and mentoring.
  • Women outside their twenties are quite unwilling to consider longer commutes, which has implications for the profession given its demographics (especially in primary).


Read the research