The number of midwifery teachers continues to fall, while those in post are getting older, the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has claimed.

Ratios between students and teachers have also decreased, which could potentially harm teaching standards say the RCM, following their freedom of information (FOI) request to 76 UK Higher Education Institutes (HEIs).

The ratio of teachers to students now stands at one teacher to every 13.5 pupils, up from 13 pupils in 2009. Both the RCM and Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) recommend that there should only be 10 pupils to every teacher.

 More than half of the 45 midwife teachers were found to be aged 50 or older, and only 6 per cent of midwifery teachers were under 40 years old.  This ageing workforce is a growing cause for concern, the RCM has claimed.

RCM general secretary, Cathy Warwick, said: "The future of midwifery will be shaped and determined by leadership in education and research today. Knowledge development and dissemination are critical components of any professional organisation, the recruitment and retention of midwifery educators is a growing challenge, especially as we face an ageing midwifery workforce and a rising birth rate, which is already stretching the workforce and impacting morale.

"Meanwhile, midwifery educators need to be assured of an academic, as well as a clinical career pathway to enable them to make career choices.  There needs to be an increased investment in midwifery educators to recruit and retain them into the profession.

"The more midwifery educators there are, the more support there will be for midwives and students in clinical practice. Protecting and nurturing midwifery educators is a major challenge for the whole profession and one that we must all embrace. There needs to be a seachange in the investment and support needed to recruit and retain the next generation of midwifery teachers."

Posted by Robert Mair on 3/1/2012