Teacher shortages of greater concern than full-scale academisation

Looming teacher shortages represent a bigger problem than turning every school in England into an academy, according to the head of one of the country’s largest and most successful academy chains.

Sir Daniel Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation, which manages 37 academies in London, says rising house prices are making it almost impossible to keep talented teachers – and argues that education secretary Nicky Morgan’s determination to press ahead with full-scale academisation is a distraction.

“It’s always been an expectation that teaching is a respectable profession and you should be entitled to have somewhere to live,” Moynihan said in an interview with the Guardian. “But it’s not the case now, and nobody in politics is addressing it.

“That to me seems a far more fundamental thing to be worrying about than whether all schools should be academies by 2022.”

Moynihan expressed scepticism at the practicality of the government’s deadline of 2022 for every school to have moved to academy status, saying: “It’s really difficult to tell. It’s a big ask.”

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He added: “For me the priority would be: in London you can call schools what you like but if there aren’t the teachers there because you can’t give them anywhere to live, that’s the bigger priority. I’d be spending the money on that.”

His criticisms will raise eyebrows, coming from an organisation that through its founder – Philip Harris, has close links to the Conservative party and has been an enthusiastic supporter of policies expanding academies and free schools.

The chief executive claimed that housing costs were draining public sector workers out of the London, with talented young teachers forced to move overseas.

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