North East Connected

Revealed: the local authorities most in need of new teachers

The number of pupils per qualified teacher in England is rising, with some local authorities reporting increases of more than 10% over the last five years.

Nationally, the average ratio in state-funded schools has increased by 2.2% (from 18.1 to 18.5 children per staff member), but new research by Oxford Home Schooling has revealed that some areas are seeing far greater spikes.

Nottingham is experiencing the fastest growth, with 11% more pupils per teacher now (18.6) than there were during the 2016/17 school year (16.8).

The East Midlands city is followed by Swindon and the Isles of Scilly, which have both seen 10% increases.

In total, eight in ten (80%) English local authorities have worse ratios now than they did in 2016/17, with 122 out of the 153 areas studied seeing a rise.

The ten English local authorities that are seeing the largest increases in their pupil:teacher ratios are: 

1) Nottingham – 11% (16.8 up to 18.6)

2) Swindon – 10% (17.6 up to 19.4)

3) Isles of Scilly – 10% (10.3 up to 11.3)

4) Liverpool – 9% (16.5 up to 18)

5) Walsall – 9% (17.8 up to 19.4)

6) Gateshead – 9% (16.8 up to 18.3)

7) Portsmouth – 8% (17.4 up to 18.8)

8) Halton – 8% (16 up to 17.2)

9) Southend-on-Sea (7% (18 up to 19.3)

10) South Tyneside (7% (17 up to 18.2)

However, these councils have some way to go to catch Thurrock, in Essex, which has 21 students for each of their qualified teaching staff – the most of any local authority. Slough isn’t far behind (20.6), while Luton takes third place (20.3), largely due to having the England’s highest ratio in secondary schools (20.5).

In contrast, besides the Isles of Scilly, where staff have the fewest children to teach (11.3), all of the best ratios are found in London, with Westminster (15.6) and Tower Hamlets (15.7) leading the way.

Many local authorities are starting to address the rising ratios, but the majority are not responding quickly enough.

Of the 122 councils experiencing increases, 63 (52%) are not upping their teacher recruitment level by an equal or greater percentage.

This includes three of the top ten local authorities mentioned above, with Swindon, Walsall and Halton all posting fewer job vacancies in 2020/21 than 2016/17, despite the number of pupils per staff rising sharply.

Suffolk (41), Birmingham (40) and Northamptonshire (37) were the most active in looking for new teachers in the last school year.

Greg Smith, head of operations at Oxford Home Schooling, said: “Pupil:teacher ratios can massively affect the quality of a child’s learning experience, as students in larger groups inevitably receive less individual attention.

“The 2020/21 school year was incredibly challenging for both teachers and students, and as efforts are made to help children catch up on the content they missed, they’re going to need as much 1-2-1 support as possible.

“Hopefully more local authorities can follow the example of Nottingham, who despite seeing the biggest increase in their ratio, are massively stepping up their teacher recruitment.”

To see which local authority in your region is experiencing the largest increase in the number of children per qualified teacher, visit:

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