Take this vacancy test now  

Which free site offers the best approach to finding a teaching job?

TeachVac or the DfE site

These are the only 2 sites for teaching vacancies in England with national coverage that are free to both schools and teachers. One is offered by TeachVac the other is the developing DfE site.

I would add that I have been chair of the group operating TeachVac since its inception over four years ago. TeachVac like the new DfE site came about because of the high cost to schools of recruitment advertising.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk uses a defined request approach. Users register and can specify their preferences for phase, location and other key criteria. As vacancies enter the system they are matched and each day details of new matches are sent to registered users to decide whether to take time in finding out more about the school and the vacancy.

This method does not require users to do any searching of the site and preferences can be changed if not enough matches are found in a particular area. The system is simple to use and in periods of the year when there are many jobs on offer – specifically from March to June for classroom teacher posts – applicants do not need to waste time searching through lots of unsuitable vacancies.

The DfE offering is at https://teaching-jobs.service.gov.uk/ and is based around a more traditional open search system that requires teachers to specify filters each time they visit the site. A click through on a vacancy also doesn’t take you directly to the school site, but to a more detailed analysis of the vacancy with a link at the end of the text.

At present, the coverage of the DfE’s site is unclear and applicants will have to keep checking to see if the area that they are interested in now live on the DfE site. TeachVac has coverage of the whole of England.

TeachVac includes both independent and all types of state funded primary and secondary schools in its coverage, whereas the DfE only handles state funded schools.

Let’s leave aside the concept of the State taking over from the market in providing a service; something odd to see from a Conservative government.

The DfE, like TeachVac, is trying to save schools money in these straightened financial times, but costs more to operate than TeachVac.

So, register with TeachVac. If it doesn’t meet your requirements, you can easily deregister and be forgotten by the site, then visit the DfE site and see how they compare?

If you like the TeachVac approach – no nonsense, no marketing and daily alerts if new jobs arise, then let me know and tell your friends and colleagues. Please also make suggestions for improvements and possible marketing routes.

TeachVac also tells schools that register with the site about the state of the market when they post a vacancy and has special arrangements for both diocese and multi-academy trusts wanting to list vacancies at several different schools.

To finish with a reminder. TeachVac is free to use for both teachers, returners and schools. It is offered as a service to the education community.

 

 

 

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UK Music Talent pipeline concerns

UK Music, is the industry-funded body established in October 2008 to represent the collective interests of the recorded, published and live arms of the British music industry.

To quote from their website, UK Music promotes the interests of record labels and music publishers (major and independent), songwriters, composers, lyricists, musicians, managers, producers, promoters, venues and collection societies through collective representation. https://www.ukmusic.org/about/

At the Liberal Democrat Conference this week UK Music published a pamphlet entitled ‘Securing our talent pipeline’ https://www.ukmusic.org/news/securing-our-talent-pipeline

As they acknowledge, the UK music industry is doing well at present. It grew by 6 per cent last year and is now worth £4.4 billion to the economy with the live music industry contributing around £1 billion. However, that is exactly the time to reflect on the future.

UK Music say that while the immediate outlook is promising, there is growing evidence of a looming crisis in the music industry’s talent pipeline – a pipeline that they rely on for future stars and one that is a vital part of their industry’s eco-system.

Schools form an important part of developing that talent pipeline, so I thought I would take a look at the evidence from TeachVac, the vacancy site for teachers where I am chair of the board. www.teachvac.co.uk about recruitment and the supply of teachers of music.

The headline statistic is that music in our schools, as a classroom taught subject, is more of a shortage subject than mathematics. Sadly, TeachVac doesn’t keep data on instrumental and other specialist music teaching at this point in time.

Despite cuts to the curriculum in state funded schools, there have been more than 600 vacancies for main scale classroom teachers recorded so far in 2018 by TeachVac. This is slightly down on the 632 vacancies recorded by this point in 2017, but not significantly so. The previous two years, 2015 and 2016 recorded around the 550 vacancies mark by this point in September.

Allowing for better coverage in 2017 and 2018 by TeachVac, there doesn’t seem yet to have been a collapse in demand for classroom teachers of music. However, there are significant regional differences. Around half of the vacancies recorded in 2018 were from secondary schools in either London or the South East, the regions with the largest concentration of independent schools and the best funded state schools. Relatively few vacancies have been recorded from schools in the North East so far in 2018.

The real cause of any shortage of teachers of music is the failure of the DfE to attract enough trainee teachers of music over the past few years, and especially for entry into teacher preparation courses in 2017. Last September, the DfE estimate in the Teacher Supply Model was for 409 music teachers; 295 were recruited according to their census of trainees. This year, by the middle of August, potential trainee numbers were slightly below the same period in 2017 and on target for around 280 trainees overall.

Allowing for failure to complete for various reasons, this means the number of new entrants in 2019 could be in the range of 250-275 for the 4,000 or so secondary schools across England. Turnover would need to be as low as five per cent to ensure sufficient new entrants, even assuming the distribution across the country was as required: an unlikely situation.

So, music may well be a subject of concern in 2019 and UK Music are right to worry about the long-term consequences for their industry and the UK Economy.

 

 

 

School reserves shrink

The news that the annual survey of school bank balances revealed that a third of schools surveyed were in deficit should come as no surprise. This blog along with many others has been charting the decline in school funds for some time.

Coincidentally, I asked the question at Oxfordshire’s Cabinet meeting this afternoon about school balances across maintained primary schools in Oxfordshire and how they changed between the end of the 2017 and 2018 financial years.

Since I haven’t yet had the data in the form of a spreadsheet, only as a written answer, I have yet to see whether Oxfordshire schools are faring better or worse than the national average. I hope to be able to answer that question later this week. However, there are a lot of minus figures in the table, even taking the effects of double entry bookkeeping into account.

At the Cabinet meeting, I also challenged the Cabinet member – part of the Conservative administration of the County – whether or not she would support the notion that money provided for schools in Oxfordshire should not be allowed to be transferred by Multi-Academy Trusts to support schools in the Trust located elsewhere in England.

I will need to check the minutes for her answer, but I am confident that she agreed with me. Personally, I would go further and not allow MAT or MACs to transfer funds between schools within the group even in Oxfordshire unless the same arrangements were possible for maintained schools and stand-alone academies.

Regular readers of this blog will know auditors of MAT/Macs were written to earlier this year by the Minister in the DfE about the issue of allowing the virement of funds between schools within MAT/MACs. However, schools outside MAT/MACs have no such facility available to them. Whether this should be seen as an invitation to join a MAT or to avoid doing so and keep the cash for the school will be a matter for local decision-making.

However, as I made clear above, if the DfE is going to have a National Funding Formula for schools it cannot, at least in my judgement, be correct for trustees to take money from schools in one area to provide for schools in another area.

Schools Forums up and down the country should take a long look at the issue or virement of monies between schools and consider whether they can draw up local guidelines. After all, the Schools Forum has a key role to play in school finances these days.

The F40 Group of local authorities might also want to have a say if cash were being transferred from their members to poorly performing schools in better funded parts of the country. Such a move would be a case of ‘depriving the deprived’.

After ten years of austerity it is no surprise that schools are running out of reserves. When they do then real cuts start being to be made. With a 3.5% pay rise to fund, expect 2019 balances to be far worse than they were this year.

 

 

OECD’s view of UK teachers

The OECD has today published the latest in its Education Indicators at a Glance series this is a weighty document that takes a while to download even on reasonably fast computers. Still, I is worth the efforts. http://webexchanges.oecdcode.org/F0w3Shjh/EAG2018_final_embargo.pdf

Two of the interesting comments about the United Kingdom are that:

The teaching workforce in the United Kingdom is one of the youngest among all OECD countries, and starting salaries from pre-primary to upper secondary education are below the OECD average.

Lower secondary school heads play an active role in decision making and leadership in the United Kingdom. In England, they earn more than twice the salary of tertiary-educated workers, the highest premium for school heads across OECD countries.

It is interesting to read the OECD comment specifically about headteachers in England as the majority of their observations are a combination of the four ‘home nations’ data into a United Kingdom analysis.

The OECD has some interesting observations about the teaching force in the United Kingdom:

As in most OECD countries, the majority of teaching staff in the United Kingdom are women, with the share of women decreasing as the level of education increases. At lower secondary level, there is more gender balance in the United Kingdom than in many other countries. In 2016, 36% of lower secondary teachers in the United Kingdom were men, almost 5 percentage points higher than the average across OECD countries (31%).

Despite our concerns about attracting men into teaching, the United Kingdom seems to be doing better than many other OECD countries in attracting and keeping men in secondary school teaching, but we cannot afford to be complacent about the future in terms of attracting anyone into teaching.

The good news is that the United Kingdom has a relatively young teaching force. This should be helpful in ensuring a stream of future leaders for the schools unless wastage removes the brightest and best into other jobs, an issue not discussed by the OECD.

The teaching workforce in the United Kingdom has become younger since 2005 and is now the youngest among all OECD countries in primary education and the second youngest after Turkey in lower secondary education. In primary schools, 31% of teachers are aged 30 or younger, compared to the OECD average of 12%.  

However, there is a risk with so many young workers of a loss of a proportion of teachers to caring responsibilities.

OECD acknowledge the relatively poor starting pay for teachers – this was before the current 3.5% increase in England.

When bonuses and allowances are included, the average actual salaries of lower secondary teachers in England and Scotland are lower than the average earnings of tertiary-educated workers, as in most countries. However, this relative earnings gap is slightly higher than the OECD average.

However, the OECD notes that after 15 years experience (sic), teachers’ salaries have increased considerably, and exceed the OECD average across all levels of education except upper secondary education in both England and Scotland. However, salary progression slows down after 15 years of experience, resulting in top of scale salaries that lag behind those in other OECD countries. It is not clear whether this also applies to salaries of school leaders.

In terms of school autonomy, I find the following statement difficult to understand.

The United Kingdom is among the few countries where local authorities are the main initial source of funds as well as the main final purchasers of educational services. In the United Kingdom, local authorities generate and spend 55% of education funds in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.

Since local authorities don’t have a vote on Schools Forum and there is a move to a National Funding formula, this paragraph might need reconsidering in future versions of the publication.

Overall, OECD remain positive of the benefits of education to individuals and society as a whole.

 

 

Possible improvements in Key Stage 2 outcomes?

The DfE has today published the provisional Key Stage 2 assessments. There are some in the Liberal Democrats that would do away with these measures. I think there is a need to make them less stressful for both pupils and teachers but equally there is a need to demonstrate an informed understanding of how our education system is performing. The data and DfE’s comments can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-curriculum-assessments-key-stage-2-2018-provisional The data are provisional at this stage. In December more finalised data will be published. However, I suspect the overall figures will remain broadly the same.

One interesting observation in the DfE’s comments on page 18 of their analysis is that local authorities with lower attainment levels tended to see the biggest changes in attainment since 2017. This is both good news and not unexpected. If 80% of children are reaching the expected standard, then the other 20% may require significant resources to help them achieve what is expected. Whereas, where it is less than 60% of pupils there are probably easier gains. It would be interesting when the final figures appear to see how pupils receiving the Pupil Premium have fared in term s of improvements.

Cartographers might question the selection of grade boundaries used in the DfE’s map as they provide a representational view that focuses on local authorities in the middle of the range. (Incidentally, the map is difficult to read as far as local authority names are concerned and could be improved). There isn’t anything wrong with this approach, but the range between the bottom of the light blue and the top of the darker blue is only six points, whereas the range in the outliers is much greater. Tough on a local authority with a score of 61 such as West Sussex that is the same colour as Peterborough with 52%. Incidentally, I am not clear why the scale starts at 42%? But, perhaps the DfE aren’t using the data from Table L1 for the map. They don’t provide a link to the data.

As in the past, girls generally outperform boys, except in mathematics, where in the scaled score, boys have a higher score than girls, as is also the case for those performing at the higher ability level. For detailed data about other characteristics we must wait until December. The data for middle schools can largely be regarded as being based upon so few schools as not to be really representative, unless you live in an area with these schools and might want to question their future.

The data won’t help the Humanists that want to see an end to faith schools as, the more specific the faith, the better the outcome in their schools with; Jewish, Muslim and Sikh schools all performing better than other schools and especially better than schools with no religious character.  This may well tell us more about parental choice and support by parents that make a positive choice of school than about anything else.

Finally, as the DfE helpfully points out, attainment in all of reading, writing and maths is not directly comparable to previous years because of changes to writing TA frameworks. That doesn’t stop the DfE producing some comparisons.

Welcome for BERA Bites series

BERA, The British Educational Research Association today publishes the second in its series of BERA Bites https://www.bera.ac.uk/researchers-resources/publications/issue-2-educational-leadership-are-our-schools-fit-for-the-future

The BERA Bites series presents selected articles from the BERA Blog on key topics in education, presented in an easily printable and digestible format to serve as teaching and learning resources for students and professionals in education. Each collection features an introduction by editors with expertise in the field, and each article includes questions for discussion, composed by the authors, prompting readers to further explore the ideas and arguments put forward in the original articles.

This second BERA Bite is especially of interest to this blog as it contains a post from almost exactly two years ago. The post appeared on this blog on the 7th September 2016 and you can read it be either downloading the BERA bits of searching the archive on this blog for September 2016. The post was entitledRecruitment, Retention and Region The three ‘R’s’ challenging school performance in England’.

I am grateful to BERA for putting this series together. It is a new form of peer review to have blog posts reviewed as well as more formal articles and the BITES series can become useful teaching aids for particular topics if kept regularly up to date. The issue of relevance is key. I turned to writing a blog, partly because for 11 years I wrote a variety of weekly columns for the TES and partly because, in a fast moving area such as the labour marker for teachers, writing academic articles is fine and dandy, but by the time they appear they are often only of historical interest in terms of policy development.

This is best seen in the series of posts on this blog during August 2013, when I wrote a post on the 7th August predicting a teacher supply crisis in London starting in 2014. The subsequent posts show the government reacted to my conclusions. Had I written an article for an academic journal about a possible teacher supply crisis and submitted it in August 2013, some reviewers might have rejected it as lacking sufficient evidence and, even if sufficiently articulate and scholarly, neither outcomes I can guarantee to produce, it would have bene sometime in 2014 before it saw the light of day.

This is not to argue for the demise of academic journals, there place is firmly established in the academic discourses but to welcome the move BERA and others are making to recognise that some areas of education policy move at a different pace to other and may need different forms of discourse and that there is a need for teaching materials prompting readers to further explore the discussions put forward in the original articles.

So, please do read the BERA Bites both 1 & 2 and let BERA know what you think of the new series. If you are not a BERA member, but a regular reader of this blog, then you might want to consider whether it would be worth joining BERA, even if only for the access to the range research and information it provides to those interested in education.

Bulk buying back in vogue

When I was a young teacher in London there was a large central buying organisation for schools, called something like Greater London Supplies. I recall that they had a big depot at Tottenham Hale in north London. Purchasing basic supplies on behalf of large numbers of schools made good business sense, even to the most socialist of Labour councils. However, it didn’t make sense to the Thatcher government that believed market competition at a school level was the way forward.

Reading the DfE’s recent announcement on procurement and helping schools with costs, suggests that this is yet another move back in the direction of levering the purchasing power of schools as a combined unit, rather than expecting them to operate as individual business sites. How long will it be before Ofsted is asked to include in their inspection report whether a school is making full use effective purchasing decisions to target as much cash as possible on teaching and learning?

TeachVac, the free vacancy site for schools and teachers, www.teachvac.co.uk  where I am chair of the board, doesn’t yet feature in the DfE list. I am sure that they will find a good reason not to list it, as they don’t yet list any vacancy advertising services, whether they are either paid for services like all the others or free like TeachVac and their own nascent service. Maybe they don’t want competition?

The government’s actions in driving down costs aren’t completely risk free. After all, if prices are driven down too far then suppliers will exit the market and leave just one monopoly provider. At that point, it becomes an issue as to whether the State should regulate the provision of the service or actually take over the running.

As I have suggested in previous posts on this topic, once prices have been reduced by increasing efficiency then it can become very difficult to make a profit. Then there is also the reason why local decision-making was favoured by many: the speed of service delivery. A central maintenance contract may be cheaper, but what is the true cost of waiting several days for a window to be replaced or a leaking toilet mended?

I am sure that there is a unit within the DfE thinking of other areas where schools can either save money or increase their incomes without putting more pressure on parents. They might want to ensure deals there are good deals on school uniforms and sports kit and make schools explain why they are requiring a uniform that is more expensive than the average. Tradition, would not be a good enough answer.

My own suggestion for research is, as mentioned before, school playgrounds. They must be the least used piece of real estate in the country. I don’t suggest they are done away with, as when needed they perform a vital function, but what can we do with them for the other 99% of the year? More all-weather community pitches; a source of generating renewable energy; even vegetable growing spaces areas with a playground on top.

We are spending millions on research into driverless cars; how about a couple of million for more effective playground spaces?