Not everything in the education world is going in the wrong direction. There are some nuggets within the 2013 School Workforce survey that tell of improvements over time. One of these is the percentage of qualified teachers with a relevant post ‘A’ level qualification teaching various subjects. The School Workforce Census contains a Table (Table 13 this year) that identifies the percentage of hours taught in a subject by the highest qualification of those teaching the subject. In many subjects, the percentage of hours taught by those with no relevant post ‘A’ level qualification declined between 2012 and 2013. For instance, in Mathematics, the 2012 census recorded 17.9% of 478,200 hours taught hours taken by teachers with no relevant post ‘A’ level qualification. In the 2013 census the total was down to 17.3% of 487,600 hours. This represented a very small gain of 150 hours taught by qualified staff. In fact, the number of hours taught by those with the highest qualification of a degree and normally QTS increased by a far greater amount. The challenge will be to continue this increase once school rolls start increasing again, and if policy dictates more mathematics is taught to the 16-18 age-group.
It is really it was only in some of the languages where the trend in the use of fully qualified teachers has been going in the wrong direction. This may be partly due to the mix of linguists a school employs at any one time, as even a change of head of department can affect the balance of language teaching hours available within a department.
In English, Mathematics, and most of the Sciences, the total number of hours the subject was taught across years 7-13 increased between 2012 and 2013. Among the Languages group of subjects, German lost ground, although other languages increased their total hours. There was some decline in the hours of design & technology. However, the main losers were subjects such as Religious Education, music, drama, art and design and media studies. If these declines continue no doubt they will eventually be reflected in the number of training posts seen as required by the Teacher Supply Model. However, hours taught is but one element of that model and since many of these subjects are aggregated into a single conglomerate ‘subject’ for the purpose of the modelling these days it isn’t clear what the overall effect would be as the decline in hours in some subjects might be counter-balanced by the increase in other creating an unhelpful average outcome.
Still, with so much gloom around it is helpful to see some improvement in the percentage of qualified teachers even if there is a risk that it will be short-lived as school rolls start to increase again and under-recruitment to training will mean fewer highly qualified trainees available for employment in 2014. Sadly, the overall tables tell us nothing about the distribution of teachers between different types of schools and across the country.