Teacher Numbers and the consequences

Earlier today I did the round of several regional BBC radio stations talking about the latest TeachVac data on advertised vacancies for classroom teachers in secondary schools. I think it fair to say that he DfE were not impressed with our data.

Interestingly, the DfE also released the results of the School Workforce Census data for 2015 this morning. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2015

This survey is taken on a day in November each year. I am delighted to see that recorded vacancies and temporary filled posts in November 2015 were below those recorded in 2014, albeit the fall was from 1,730 to 1,430 in secondary schools and this was still the second highest number since 2010. This should mean that schools are finding it easier to recruit staff,

However, of more interest, is the worsening situation in terms of the percentage of teachers with no relevant post A level qualification in the subject that they are teaching that was recorded in several subjects contained in the School Workforce Census. Since schools can employ anyone to teach anything, this isn’t illegal. The change may also partly be down to how trainee teachers on School Direct and Teach First are recorded in the census data. There are also several different means of looking at this data.

Nevertheless, even with those caveats, it is worth noting that between the 2013 and 2015 census days, the percentage of those teaching mathematics with no relevant post A level qualification in the subject increased from 22.4% to 26.3%. In physics, another subject where very attractive bursaries have been available for trainees, the percentage with no relevant post A level qualification in the subject increased from 33.5% to 37.5%, an increase of 4.0% over three years.

In design and technology not only has there been a 4.3% deterioration in overall qualified teachers, this decline is despite a fall of 1,900 in the recorded number of teachers of the subject, so that the smaller workforce of 11,500 is now less well qualified on this measure than the 12,700 teachers recorded in the 2013 census. Not good news for a subject I maintain is vital in creating enthusiasm among the school population for many of our important wealth generating industries.

These figures come against the background where the total number of secondary school teachers was falling between 2014 and 2015, by around 4,000, this despite an increase of 800 in the number of unqualified teachers, many of who are presumably trainees.

There are clear age differences among the teaching force. Teachers under 30 account for 28.4% of FTE teachers in the primary sector but only 23.1% of secondary teachers. However, only 16.95 of primary teachers and 17.7% of secondary teachers were recorded as over the age of 50 when the census was compiled.

There has been some discussion about the growth in part-time working in the teaching profession. The figures for the census were 26.1% of primary and 18.2% of secondary teachers worked part-time. The percentage for the secondary sector may be higher than many imagined and might be worth exploring in more detail.





2 thoughts on “Teacher Numbers and the consequences

  1. It is important to be aware that those without a post-A-Level qualification (for example in physics) consitute a pretty broad range. At one end are those with a strong pysics A-Level, a science-related degree such as geology, a Subject Knowledge Enhancement course (focused on a mixture of subject and pedagogical content knowledge) of perhaps 20 x 18 hour/week face-to-face with highly experienced physics teachers plus an equivalent amount of independent study, followed by an ITE year with maybe 30-40 days of subject-specific training as well as all the time teaching and observing within a science department. At the other end might be someone with a sports science degree and a PE PGCE who has gradually picked up science teaching because there are plenty of great teachers out there with PE qualifications and a shortage of scientists. In an ideal world physics teachers would have physics degrees and the stat illustrates a recruitment problem, but I’m not convinced that this statistic necessarily implies that the is any effect on the quality of physics teaching out there.

    • I agree. It might be helpful to revisit the range of options on the level of qualification necessary to teach a subject since a PGCE and a degree in another subject counts as a post A level qualification. We need to know the real position and what is a minimum acceptable standard of knowledge as in Scotland. Then we can assess the quality of the workforce more effectively: something government’s have shied away from doing.

      John Howson

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