STRB misses the point?

There is a lot of good data in the STRB Report published yesterday. School Teachers’ Review Body 32nd report: 2022 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Sadly, most of it, as far as the teacher labour market is concerned, is based upon data collected by the DfE in November 2020 in the School Workforce Census, and thus relates to the labour market cycle of two years ago. Even if, when compiling the Report, the data from the November 2021 Census was used that was still from a previous labour market. As regular readers of this blog will know, the 2021-22 labour market for teachers has been anything other than normal in terms of demand for teachers.

The STRB has at least been able to use the ITT Census of 2021 that provided the data about the supply of new teachers for September 2022. Readers will find little in the STRB Report that hasn’t already been covered in this blog in relation to that data.

However, the Table on pages 49 and 50 of the STRB Report tells the story of this labour market in two simple charts regarding ITT recruitment; with history, PE and Art being the only secondary subjects where the supply of new entrants has been anything like at the level required to meet demand.

Interestingly, TeachVac today added art as a subject with a ‘red’ warning of shortages possible anywhere in England for January 2023 appointments. That just leaves PE and history as the two subjects where supply is still not yet at a level for a ‘red’ warning. PE might reach that level in the autumn: history, even with a contribution to humanities posts, almost certainly won’t. In view of the fact that almost double the number of trainees was recruited compared with the TSM figure that isn’t really a surprise. There is little problem with the primary sector labour market across most of the country.

The STRB Report is an interesting analysis of how the labour market responded to the sudden appearance of the pandemic just at the time when vacancies for September appointments were reaching their peak. Essentially, the market seems to have paused in 2021, and, as we know in 2022, there has been this surge of vacancies. As the end of term approaches, TeachVac has recorded not far short of 80,000 teaching vacancies across England so far in 2022, and more than 95,000 across the school-year as a whole.

The STRB has some interesting observations about leadership vacances, and the problems of recording trends when some posts in MATs are ‘out of scope’ to use the STRB terminology. However, as TeachVac has reported, there does not seem to have been any mass exodus of school leaders. This is despite the massive burdens placed on headteachers and other school leaders as a result of the pandemic, and the need to keep schools open at all times.

On pay, make of the Report what you will. I personally doubt that their recommendations for 2023/24 will last the test of time, especially if inflation continues to remain close to current levels and interest rates increase. With little new cash around for schools, it might be worth looking at the history books for how schools coped with the economic crisis of the late 1970s and early 1980s to see what might happen over the next few years. Although, back then, there was no spending on computers and other IT equipment.  

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