John Howson

How easy will trainees find job hunting in 2021? The following predictions are based upon an analysis of vacancies for teaching posts recorded by TeachVac over the past four years. The raw vacancy data is then linked to the ITT census of trainee numbers produced by the DfE and based upon returns from providers.

As noted in another post on this blog, there are fewer trainees on classroom-based courses than a few years ago. This pushes up demand for trainees and returners to fill posts these trainees would have occupied. Assuming similar completion rates for trainees as in the past, and that with rising rolls in the secondary sector, if total vacancies are no worse than in 2020, and hopefully closer to the 2019 total it is possible to estimate the shape of the labour market in different subjects during 2021. However, much will depend upon how many teachers retire or leave the classroom for other jobs. If teacher stay put in larger numbers than usual, vacancies will be lower than in the past.

So, before I list some my predictions it is worth reminding those looking for teaching posts to register with the platform that provides the best opportunity for them to be pointed towards possible vacancies. I am, of course biased in favour of TeachVac, but there is the DfE site that also contains non-teaching posts, and the TES, as well as local authority job boards. Candidates might want to register with agencies and let them take the strain, but it is worth asking about their success in the geographical area where you are likely to be looking for a job.

So what might the picture for 2021 look like? Physics, design and technology and business studies teachers should still have little problem find a teaching post either during 2021 or for January 2022.

On the other hand, history and PE teachers will continue to find that there are more candidates than there are vacancies across much of England. The ability to offer a second subject might be worth thinking about in any application.  Teachers of geography will also likely to find job hunting challenging later in the year.

This year, teachers of art may struggle to find teaching posts, especially as the year progresses, as there are considerably more trainees than in recent years. Teachers of RE and biology may also face similar challenges in job hunting as 2021 progresses towards the start of the new school term in September.

The outlook for teachers of sciences, other than physics, is likely to be similar to the situation in 2020, with teachers of biology unable to offer other sciences at most risk of finding a teaching post challenging as the progresses.

Mathematics and IT/Computing teachers should find plenty of choice of jobs early in the year, but possibly not as much choice as in recent years.

It is difficult to predict the market for teachers of languages other than English in Britain’s new post-EU membership world. At present, it looks as if across England there is a good balance between supply and demand, but there may be regional shortages if vacancy levels increase. On the other hand, if vacancies decline, there could be a surplus of teachers of some languages, notably Spanish.

Teachers of music are likely to find enough vacancies for trainees unless there is an inflow of ‘returners’ from outside of the profession as a result of changes in the wider labour market for those with music qualifications and a teaching background.

Each month TeachVac updates information about overall vacancies in the monthly newsletter. Details can be found at:

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