Good news on Mathematics teaching

Is the crisis in mathematics teaching over? According to the data in the 2016 School Workforce Census, if not over, then the problem is at least well on the way to being solved, if you use two important measures for the teaching workforce.

On the basis of the percentage of teachers with no relevant post A -Level qualification teaching the subject, the data for mathematics is the best for many years

2013 22.4%

2014 24.2%

2015 26.3%

2016 22.2%

The 2016 figure is a remarkable turnaround on the 2015 percentage and probably the largest single year change ever recorded. There are similar improvements across many other subjects, with only physics not really following the general trend.

2013 33.5%

2014 36.5%

2015 37.5%

2016 37.3%

The improvement in Physics is only a marginal 0.2% over last year and still far worse than in 2013, although the number of teachers has increased from 6,300 to 6,500, the best level for many years.

To triangulate the data it is worth also looking at the hours taught in a typical week to pupils in years 7 to 13 by teachers with no subject relevant post A-level qualification. This is the measure used last year by the Migration Advisory Committee in their seminal report. The data can be found in Table 13 of this year’s School Workforce Census.

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Maths 16 16 18 17 20 18 12.8
Physics 21 24 26 26 28 25 24.6
D&T 11 15 18 17 19 17 14.2
ICT 48 4 41 39 44 38 30.6
English 12 13 15 15 17 13 9.6
Geography 11 16 18 18 17 14 12.5
History 10 13 15 15 15 11 8.6
PE 9 11 12 11 11 7 4

Figures are percentages and come from Table 4.19 of the MAC Report and Table 13 of the 2016 School Workforce Census

So, apart from in Physics, not only has the percentage of teachers with minimal qualifications been reduced, but the percentage of hours taught by such teachers is also down.

However, before everyone becomes too euphoric and proclaims the end of the teacher supply crisis, it is worth noting these are for Qualified Teachers only. It is not clear what impact both the School Direct Salaried and Teach First schemes have on these numbers. The ability of schools to correctly complete the School Workforce Census must also be taken into consideration. Recruitment into training in 2016 and the job market in 2017 may have played a part in helping the improvement as may the work undertaken by the government in mathematics in upgrading the knowledge and skills base of those teaching mathematics.

Whatever the reasons, these figures show an improving trend, although one in eight hours in mathematics taught be a Qualified Teacher with not even an A-Level in the subject is still not good enough. The fact that almost a quarter of Physics lessons are taught by such teachers, let along the hours taught by unqualified and trainee teachers in the subject even after several years of generous bursaries is not a happy situation. It also raises the question of whether the government is paying generous training bursaries to teachers that end up outside of the State school system. If that is the case, a loan forgiveness scheme or even better salaries for teachers in the State system might be better alternatives.

The concern about recruitment into training in 2017 together with the rising secondary school population means that even if the 2017 School Workforce Census produces similar results to the 2016, the 2018 Census may show a return to more concerning outcomes. But, since that won’t be published until 2019 that’s a world away in politics.

 

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8 thoughts on “Good news on Mathematics teaching

  1. Hello John

    Why did you decide not to include RE in this comparative picture?

    Sorry this is my first comment after 4+ years of sient, but v appreciative, reading.

    Locally and nationally political struggles still need your energy!

    Best wishes,

    Brian

    Dr Brian Gates Emeritus Professor of Religion, Ethics & Education University of Cumbria LANCASTER. LA1 3JD ________________________________

    • Brian,
      Good to hear from you. I haven’t had much connection with the RE groups recently, so it has rather slipped off my radar. However, your nudge will mean I will add it to to my list and track back. Still looks at the upper end of main subjects range on indicators, but may be better than in the past. this could be because fewer lessons as not an EBacc subject?

      John

    • Thanks for the comment. Oxford is seen as a high cost place to live and more needs to done by the academies as a group to sell’ teaching in the city and county. I did suggest that the situation might decline from the possible high point of autumn 2016. At least TeachVac doesn’t cost you anything in advertising fees.

      John Howson

  2. Same here. Agencies tell us there are no maths teachers! We are a London prep school and have had very poor response to direct advertising and with agencies. Not even any leads from teacher training providers.

    • Thank you. it is helpful to receive this feedback. There is no regional data published for the School Workforce Census so articles have to be written that assume an average across the country, whereas we know that there are regional differences. it may well be that the extra numbers in training are not where they are needed. I have reported in earlier posts about a fall in offers for 2017-18 training in London that doesn’t bode well for the 2018 recruitment round.

      John Howson

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