CEOs pay: what’s happening?

A recent Chartered Institute of Personnel Development survey found that median pay for bosses of the UK’s biggest companies hit almost £4m last year – up from about £3.5m in 2016.

That set me thinking about the work the DfE undertook earlier this year in relation to the pay of CEOs of Multi Academy Trusts and whether or not the findings had been published anywhere?

Readers will recall that Eileen Milner, the chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, wrote in February to the chairs of 87 MATs employing individuals earning more than £150,000, asking them to explain their rationale for doing so by early March and to justify paying these salaries.

The intervention comes two days after the Department for Education minister, Lord Agnew, said that no MAT boss should receive a larger pay increase than their teaching staff and that CEOs should have their pay cut if there is a downturn in the performance of their schools. It follows a similar letter sent in December 2016 to single-academy trusts paying leaders more than £150,000. Lord Agnew’s February letter can be accessed at

Further letters appear to have been written to some MATs in April and July seeking more information. These can be found at 28 letters were sent in December 2017; 88 in February 2018 and a further 96 letters in either April or July 2018. With a final return date of 20th July, the EFSC should now have sufficient information to publish a report on the state of the most highly paid staff in the public education service.

There may be an issue relating to pensions should those not undertaking any teaching or direct site leadership of a school remain in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme. In the past, when becoming local authority staff most would have moved out of the TPS into the relevant LGPS for their authority. I don’t’ know how LGPS scheme managers and trustees, of which I am one for Oxfordshire’s scheme, would approach the arrival of such highly paid staff so near pensionable age, but the DfE does need to make clear the boundary for who can belong to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme even if they aren’t actually in a school?

The level of salaries paid to senior staff in the school system is clearly a matter that won’t go away. After all, perhaps 100 MATs paying more than most local authorities pay their Director of Children’s Services must be of concern in term of expenditure, especially once pension and other on-costs are added to the basic salary.

The problem really dates back to the Labour government and the development of Executive Headteacher roles without the government making it clear how such professionals should be paid. However, the seeds of that confusion date even further back into the early 1990s and the refusal to police the upper end of the Leadership Pay Scale for large schools facing recruitment difficulties. Failure to deal with a problem doesn’t always make it go away; sometimes it allows it to grow into a serious issue that is much harder to tackle as is now the case with the pay of CEOs of MATs.





What happens if EU pupils disappear from schools post Brexit?

Tomorrow marks one of the final acts of the 2017-18 school year, the publication of examination results and the opening on the university ‘clearing’ round. Next week will see the publication of the examinations normally taken at 16+. From that point onwards, the 2018-19 school year might be said to have commenced.

One of the interesting challenges for the next year will be how well the new National Funding Formula copes with the unexpected changes that will emerge and have not been pre-programmed into the formula. One such, is the extent to which some schools will be affected financially if the movement of EU citizens out of England continues.

There has always been an ebb and flow of such citizens, but the balance until recently has been on the positive side of the equation. Should the flow turn negative over the next few quarters, while Brexit is sorted out, it seems likely that some schools, and probably some primary schools in particular, could lose a proportion of their pupil population, not to mention a few teachers and support staff as well. Losing the staff may help reduce expenditure, if they don’t need to be replaced, although many will I suspect need replacing.

More concern will be over the financial effects by 2020 of any reduced pupil numbers and hence lower income for the school. Successful schools that are over-subscribed will just let it be known that there are now places in particular classes and, hey presto, applications will materialise, as if by magic. But what happens to schools either thought to be less attractive to parents or in areas where they may be the only school?

In the past, local authorities could cope with the unforeseen changes in pupil numbers. Indeed, multi-academy trust can still do so by viring cash between schools in the Trust. Stand-alone academy trusts, with a single school, and maintained schools don’t have the ability to take that route. Cash cannot be moved around these schools. This might be a reason for schools in a weak financial situation to join a MAT, if they think they will receive help and not later be closed s uneconomic anyway.

How much of a concern might this issue of a potential pupil exodus be? A recent answer at the July meeting of Oxfordshire County Council revealed 11 maintained primary schools with more than 10% of current pupil numbers with non GBR EU citizenship. Now, some may either have parents with dual nationality or be unconcerned by Brexit, but a school of 250 losing just two percent might see a budget reduction of more than £20,000 in a full year: a not insubstantial sum to lose from a tight budget.

Should the DfE publish a full list of areas mostly at risk of losing pupils if there is an outflow of EU workers from England? No doubt the devolved administrations are also taking note of this issue and its implications for their schools?

Hopefully, there won’t be an issue, but, if there is, should schools muddle through or expect some anticipation of the problem and a solution within the National Funding Formula?

Keep older teachers in the profession?

Most of the discussion about issues relating to the supply of teachers revolves around the need to bring in more new entrants. Attention is then generally next focused on stemming the exit of teachers early in their careers, often at the point where they might be moving into middle leadership roles. Scant attention is ever paid to the idea of ‘keep in touch’ schemes for those leaving for caring reasons, whether because they have started their own family or are caring for elderly relatives to help retain their interest and understanding of the profession. Indeed, the DfE’s specific attempt at an approach to helping those seeking to return to the profession wasn’t an outstanding success, if you read the evaluation report published earlier this year.

Probably, the least attention has been paid to altering the age at which teachers retire from the profession. I don’t mean the formal age of retirement as, indeed, there isn’t one these days, although working for more than 40 years probably doesn’t bring any extra benefits from a pension point of view. However, could encouraging teachers to remain in either full-time or part-time service for a year or two longer help reduce the staffing crisis faced by some schools?

Sadly, the answer is probably not. The School Workforce Census suggests that the number of teachers leaving over the age of 55 have been falling in recent years

Year Teachers Leaving
2013 11,470
2014 11,420
2015 10,430
2016   9,430
2017   8,570

DfE 2017 School Workforce Census Table 7b

Whether this is because either the cohort size has been falling or more are staying needs further work to determine. However, the Census does also record around 1,600 entrants from this age group each year, so the net departure rate may be less than shown in the table. Overall, in the 2017 School Workforce Census, there were some 25,800 teacher in service between the ages of 55-59 and a further 9,700 over the age of 60 still in service.

Providing more part-time opportunities could be one way to attract more of the leavers to stay, but it could carry the risk of persuading more teachers to consider switching to part-time work and supplementing their income through tutoring and other uses of their talents and experience. Indeed, the shift from a final salary pension scheme to one based upon average salary, however calculated, makes early departure less of a risk than in the past, even though the Teachers’ Pension Scheme remains an attractive scheme to its members compared with some other schemes.

Bringing in more over 50s to spend a decade or so in teaching is worth considering. Some 4,840 new entrants from the 45-54 age grouping were recorded in the 2017 School Workforce Census, but there needs to be sufficient new entrants to fill future leadership vacancies even after the inevitable wastage of teachers in their early years of service. In some subjects future head of department recruits are already looking few and far between and a high percentage of primary teachers that survive more than 20 years of service are likely to become a head or at least a deputy head.

So, we cannot escape the need to ensure new entrants to training meet the levels specified by the DfE if an optimum level for the teacher workforce is to be achieved.

TeachVac celebrates success

One of the questions I am regularly asked as chair of the company behind TeachVac (, the free to schools and teachers job matching service for teachers, is ‘why does TeachVac use a defined system of matching teachers to vacancies?’ It is a good question. Unlike most system that have either evolved from print backgrounds or been based upon the same browsing concept of allowing everything to be seen by everyone, TeachVac evolved with a very different philosophy in mind.

TeachVac believed that those seeking a teaching post, whether new entrants finishing their training; existing teachers wanting to change jobs or seek promotion and returners looking to re-enter the world of teaching in a school somewhere in England all had similar needs in terms of looking for a teaching post. These can be summed up as; what phase; secondary or primary; where in a defined geographical area and at what grade or salary? Provide answers to these three questions and applicants can be presented with a range of vacancies that meet their needs from which to choose the ones they want to follow up through the application process.

As I was writing the above piece, the DfE published an update on their thoughts on vacancy information. Unlike TeachVac, the DfE doesn’t seem to place as high value on alerting teachers exclusively to vacancies that meet their needs. Undefined systems allow for very wide searches. Such an approach can swamp applicants for say, English vacancies in London during April. However, the alerts that are the foundation of a defined system help focus teachers on what type of vacancy, and where, they are seeking.

The defined request approach has two other benefits. Firstly, it makes it difficult for anyone wanting to offer candidates to schools with vacancies to easily track down the bulk of vacancies. Secondly, defined searches can provide better data about where candidates are looking for vacancies that can more open searching. Such data can help identify ‘cold’ spots where candidates are less interested in the vacancies as well as the more obvious hot spots.

Although TeachVac doesn’t do so, defined tracking can also help identify the schools within an area that receive the most interested through hits on the vacancy from the search. There is also a lot more that can be learned about candidate behaviour in terms of timings of both initial market research and actual applications. Should TeachVac provide annual profiles of vacancies by month for different parts of the country and different types of school?

TeachVac has just completed its fourth and most successful recruitment round. Staff are currently spending the summer sorting out queries about the DfE’s list of schools, a service we shouldn’t have to undertake at TeachVac, but one that is vital to ensure that candidates find the correct vacancies. How much quality control does the DfE exert over it supplier when a School clearly identified in its name as a Church of England Primary School can be mis-coded as a post-16 establishment?

TeachVac Global, ( the companion site to TeachVac for vacancies in international schools, has also had a successful first year of operation, establishing its name across the globe.

Welcome -U- turn on EdTech

Readers with long memories, or at least those who were around in 2010, will recall the Tories famous bonfire of the QUANGOs. Michael Gove was an enthusiastic supporter of the movement, axing the GTCE and BECTA and starting the process that lead to the disappearance of the NCTL and all the good work it had undertaken in both leadership and initial teacher education. There were other less visible casualties of which some survived in the private sector whilst others disappeared.

Axing rather than reforming BECTA, the long-standing QUANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non-Government Organisation) on EdTech was a short-sighted move that has back fired on the government. As a result, I welcome today’s announcement that the government has once again recognised the importance of technology in education.

Throughout my career, this is an area I have championed, from the early use of video cameras to record both PE lessons for skills development and rehearsals of plays to improve the schools’ entry into one-act play festivals in the 1970s, through both my time at a teachers’ centre – sadly missed professional development hubs much more engaging that the teaching schools of today – to my time in a School of Education in the 1980s where student were required to create a tape-slide presentation for one of their assignments.

Even during my brief stay at the TTA in the 1990s, I helped commission the famous internet café stand at careers’ fairs that replaced the coffee table and a couple of armchairs plus a few posters that was the staple fare before then as the main means of selling teaching to graduates..

Sadly, as the whiteboard programme showed, there has often been a tendency to put the phone before the mast (to update the cart before the horse metaphor) when it came to new technology in education. How many boring presentations on OHPs in the old days and PowerPoint these days have you say through by educators that ought to know they needed a bit of training to make best use of the technology. Still, this was the profession that axed voice coaching as not academic enough for education degree courses, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of understanding of technology in teaching and learning by policy makers.

I would start with requiring all those that work with teachers in training to have a qualification in the use and development of education technology. As a geographer, I would have interactive earthquake and volcano sites open on a whiteboard in my classroom and challenge pupils to indicate anything unusual. Do that with Key Stage 2 pupils, and I guess many would soon know more about earthquakes and volcanoes than their teachers.

I think that Caroline Wright, Director General at the British Educational Suppliers Association summed my view up perfectly when she said:

I am delighted that the Department for Education’s plans place teacher training and support at the heart and soul of their future approach to EdTech and recognises that EdTech, when introduced as part of a whole school strategy, has the power to help improve pupil outcomes, save teacher time and reduce workload burdens.

As TeachVac has demonstrated in the field of teacher vacancies, technology can be very disruptive to existing orthodoxies, but that is not an excuse to do nothing and cling on to the past. –U- turns are never easy, but this one is both necessary and long overdue.



Early Years are important for later life.

The Early Years Foundation Stage profiles (EYFSP) for 2016-17 were published earlier this week by the DfE. interestingly, they show continued improvement in many areas.

The DfE noted that at a national level, 70.7% of children achieved a good level of development, an increase of 1.4 percentage points (ppts) on 2016. The same trend was seen in the percentage achieving at least the expected level across all early learning goals. This has increased by 1.7ppts from 2016. However, the average total point score has remained the same as 2016 at 34.5.

Girls continue to perform better in the profiles. However, the gender gap for the percentage of children achieving a good level of development has reduced from 14.7 ppts in 2016 to 13.7 ppts in 2017. Similarly, the gap for the percentage achieving at least the expected level in all early learning goals decreased from 15.7ppts in 2016 to 14.7 ppts in 2017. Both girls and boys have improved but boys have improved at a faster rate. The gap in the average total point score has decreased from 2.5 to 2.4 points. Nevertheless, there still remains a long way to go.

The Secretary of State has always been interested in social mobility. Indeed he helped found the All Party Parliamentary Group on the subject (APPG). In a speech this week he highlighted the importance of the home in both the pre-school years and the help and encouragement families can provide during the school years. He said the following, echoing a speech Nick Clegg made when he was deputy Prime Minister during the coalition;

On average, disadvantaged children are four months behind at age five. That grows by an additional six months by the age of 11, and a further nine months by the age of 16.

So, by the time they take their GCSEs they are, on average, 19 months behind their peers.

Then what? Well as I’ve said, your education stays with you.

Children with poor vocabulary at age five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed when they are aged 34.

It’s command of language, being able to express ourselves effectively, that is the gateway to success in school – and later on into later life.

As I said earlier, more than a quarter – 28% – of children finish their reception year still without the early communication and reading skills they need to thrive. It’s not acceptable and tackling it must be our shared priority. My ambition is to cut that number in half over the next ten years.

Now money and Opportunity Areas may help, but how about inviting the script writers from Eastenders, Coronation Street, Emmerdate and the other soaps to a roundtable at Sanctuary Buildings to ask for some key plot lines. When did a school parent’s evening last feature in a soap? Indeed, how often do schools appear in soaps? More often they are relegated to their own genre. A national campaign using soft media such as the soaps to encourage families to support their children’s early and continued learning might help to shift attitudes to closing the gap the Secretary of State was highlighting in his speech.

As he said, the DfE has looked at the progress of children on free school meals early in the century and found that

Children eligible for Free School Meals when they are at school are 23% less likely to be in sustained employment at the age of 27, compared to their peers.

Now many of these adults are no doubt are in areas of high unemployment, but the more you make use of the education system, the greater it seems is your chance of employment as an adult. As Jack Tizard and his fellow researchers found in their study in Haringey in the 1970s, even parents that couldn’t read themselves could sit and help a child with their reading with better results than other more education related programmes. Their study showed a highly significant improvement by children who received extra practice at home in comparison with control groups, but no comparable improvement by children who received extra help at school. The gains were made consistently by children of all ability levels.*





TeachVac: end of term update

TeachVac has now completed its fourth recruitment cycle and is on course to handle 50,000+ genuine vacancies for teachers and school leaders across England during 2018. The vacancies come from all types and phases of schools and still cost schools and teachers nothing, either to place a vacancy or to receive a job match.

TeachVac is a defined system designed for those seeking a teaching or school leadership position in either the state-funded or private school sectors. Unlike other systems, TeachVac works with genuine job seekers that know where they want to work. The limits are generous, but our experience tells us that few job seekers are open to working anywhere in England. By using a defined system, where job seekers can change their parameters, we cut out those seeking to bombard schools with offers to fill their vacancies for a fee.

TeachVac trusts teachers and works to provide the information in the most accessible format while remaining free to both schools and teachers. As a future development of TeachVac the team are looking at two new developments. Firstly, where are the jobs most likely to be found? The answer to this question is based upon the data collected over the past four recruitment rounds. Although, if you are a teacher of mathematics, English and possibly the sciences, you can assume that there will be vacancies across the country that’s not the case in some of the smaller subjects.

How many vacancies will there be for music teachers west of Exeter in any given recruitment cycle: do business studies teachers find many jobs in the West Midlands? TeachVac now has sufficient data to answer this sort of question. The data is capable of further refinement, by perhaps, state-funded schools; selective schools or private schools.

Our second service in development is the ability to tell schools how many applications they might receive when posting a vacancy. Schools already receive notification of TeachVac’s estimate of the size of the remaining trainee pool when the post a vacancy and whether TeachVac has already recorded enough vacancies to exhaust the number of trainees likely to be granted QTS in this recruitment round. TeachVac can build on this by quantifying the size of the pool of active jobseekers matched with a vacancy as either good, average, poor or non-existent. Such a profile will help schools respond as quickly as possible when they need to consider making alternative arrangements, especially for an unexpected January vacancy.

For researchers, TeachVac has a considerable store of up to the minute data about the labour market for teachers. Below is the job history of one school so far in 2018 with repeat advertisements removed. In large departments such as English, mathematics, science and languages it is sometimes difficult to know whether a second advertisement following closely on from a previous one is a second vacancy or a repeat advertisement. If each vacancy had a unique reference number the problem would be solved and a more accurate tally of actual vacancies could be kept. TeachVac does not record vacancies not linked to a specific school.

Classroom Teacher Promoted Post inc. HoD AH DH Head All Recorded Vacancies
The Academy 16 6  0  0 2 24
Head Teacher
23/02/2018 1
03/05/2018 1
Art 1
11/05/2018 1
Computer Science 3
03/04/2018 1
30/04/2018 1
30/05/2018 1
Design and Technology 2 1
04/05/2018 1
12/06/2018 1
03/07/2018 1
English 2
30/05/2018 1
03/07/2018 1
Health and Social care 1
16/01/2018 1
Mathematics 1
30/05/2018 1
30/05/2018 1
03/07/2018 1
Performing arts 1 2
04/05/2018 1
21/05/2018 1 1
Physical Education 1
04/05/2018 1
RE 1
03/04/2018 1
Science 2 1
16/01/2018 1
04/05/2018 2
09/05/2018 1