Teacher vacancies and Free School Meals

Do schools with high percentages of pupils eligible for Free School Meals have higher staff turnover than schools with lower percentages of pupils on Free School Meals?

One of the advantages of TeachVac and the data it collects is that it allows questions such as that to be answered in ‘real time’. As the recruitment round for September is now in effects over, with the start of the summer holidays, it is an appropriate time to ask that question for the 2022 Labour Market.

This blog last considered this question in 2021 Free School Meals and staff turnover | John Howson (wordpress.com) at the end of May 2021.

This year, I have just looked at the data for vacancies from one ‘shire’ county for vacancies recorded by TeachVac between 1st January 2022 and 22nd July 2022, effectively the end of the summer term.

The secondary schools in the selected authority, mostly academies, were split into three groups: those with a Free School Meal (FSM) percentage of pupils up to 10% of roll; those with FSM between 10-20% of their roll and those with FSM over 20% of their pupils as reported by the DfE.

FSM percentageNumber of SchoolsRecorded vacanciesVacancies per school
0-9.9%1835920.0
10-20%1438727.6
20%+  628146.0
 Source TeachVac

The table doesn’t take into account school sizes, nor the additional demands of new schools increasing their staffing as pupil numbers increase. Even allowing for these factors, the trend seems clear. Schools with more pupils on Free School Meals as a percentage of all pupils in this local authority during 2022 tended to create more vacancies per school than schools with lower Free School Meal pupils. The DfE doesn’t have a consistent reporting point for FSM percentages, and schools may update their percentage during the school-year.

Also, some secondary schools may be better than others at persuading families to register pupils eligible for Free School Meals, and some schools, such as faith schools, may be more popular with particular types of parents. There might also be a gender effect, as there are both single sex schools and co-educational school with in the authority.

The difference between 16 and 11-18 schools is not an issue in this authority, as most schools are 11-18 schools. However, there are some very large schools, although they do not fall within the highest FSM band. At least one school was constrained to some extent by pupil numbers and budgetary considerations from making appointments, and their vacancy number might be considered low. However, as that school was in the highest FSM band, it might have increased the number for the schools in that band even more if it had needed and been able to recruit more teachers.

This data is based on classroom teacher vacancies. Later, I will look at the much smaller number of leadership vacancies to see whether the same trend is visible at more senior levels.

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