Worse secondary PTR

The DfE has today published its annual surveys of the workforce and pupils and schools School workforce in England: November 2021 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and Schools, pupils and their characteristics: January 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

This post contains some headline thoughts about the data in the first of these two reports

The number of classroom teacher vacancies at the census point was at its highest since before 2010/11, at 1,368 compared with around 1,000 in November 2019, before the pandemic changed all our lives. Part of increase may be down to pandemic and recruitment patterns. But it also provided a warning that the recruitment round in 2022 might be challenging, as it has been. Yesterday TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk recorded its 70,000th vacancy so far in 2022: a record for June, and more than in the whole of 2021.

Secondary PTRs at 16.7 are the highest (worst) since well before 2010/11 when the ratio was just 14.8. This is partly down to demographic bulge going through the secondary sector. 2010/11 was close to the bottom of the demographic cycle for pupil numbers in the secondary sector. I expect ratios to continue to worsen over next couple of years, especially if teachers’ pay increases are not fully funded and schools seek to drawn down reserves to pay inflation matching pay increase.

The retention of early-stage teachers appears to have improved with retention of Year 2 of service teachers up from 80.9% to 82.7%, and Year 3 from 75.8% to 77.0%. Retention also improved in teachers with 4-6 years of service, but worsened among those with 7-9 years of service. Teachers with one year of service also left at a greater rate with just 87.5% remaining, compared to 88.1% the previous year. This is still better than in the period between 2012 and 2018. Might there be a pandemic effect? Will this level of retention continue?

Almost 10% of teachers now come from non-White ethnic backgrounds, with teachers from the Asian community the fasted growing group, but progress is still slow nationally.

There are fewer men in teaching with the percentage down from 25.6% the previous year to 24.5% in November 2021 Men work mostly in secondary schools, with only 35,000 men in primary sector in November 2021.

It looks as if backroom staff numbers have been cut. Whether or not this was to support frontline teachers and TA numbers isn’t clear, but the increase in teachers was not enough to offset worsening of secondary PTR noted above. Whether those PTRs worsened less in schools supported to help ‘levelling up’ isn’t clear from the basic data, but is worth exploring in the context of the looming hard National Funding Formula.  

The number of teacher entrants rebounded from the previous years low, but is still not back to the level of the longer-term trend in the high 40,000s. This may partly explain the issues with the labour market in 2022, where schools are often finding recruitment challenging.

The number of leavers also increased, but again has not reached levels seen before the pandemic. There appears to have been no wholesale departure of senior leaders as a result of the pandemic. There appears to be an issue with the data on the number of deaths among teachers, so we cannot fully consider whether the pandemic had an effect on the teaching profession from this data. The pandemic has also led to the DfE not producing data on teacher absence during 2020/21 as part of these statistics.

In November 2021, when schools completed the School Workforce Census for 2020/21 the nation was still struggling with the pandemic, but the Omicron variant had yet to appear.  Secondary schools were not better staffed based upon the PTR as a measure than the previous year, but retention did seem to have improved for some groups of early career teachers. Whether this is the start of a trend or just a pause on a downward trend we will need to wait another year to discover.

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