More about Middle Leaders

In the previous post, I discussed the issue of how many new entrants to teaching this September were likely to end up as a middle leader, and whether the supply pipeline was sufficient to meet the likely needs of schools. Since the DfE now provide a useful compendium of statistics from the Teacher Workforce Census, it is possible to look back and compare the data in the previous post with what might be happening this year, based upon the number of NQTs entering service from the 2014 cohort, including late entrants.

ITT 2014 ITT 2018
Subject Revised % as HoDs Revised % as HoDs
Design & Technology 16% 75%
Art & Design 28% 57%
Business Studies 33% 153%
Drama 38% 72%
Religious Education 53% 85%
Computing 72% 89%
Music 83% 126%

Source: TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk

The cohort of 2014 were the first cohort where real evidence of a potential teacher supply crisis was beginning to emerge during the period when they were applying for teacher preparation courses , during 2013 and the first nine months of 2014.

As the table reveals, the number of new entrants in 2104 was generally sufficient to provide for a pipeline of middle leaders for 2019. However, even in music and to a certain extent in computing, that had a poor year for recruitment that year, there would have been signs of possible difficulties, had anyone wanted to look for them. Music is an interesting subject, since most departments are small and many teachers are forced into leadership roles as middle leaders quite early in their careers, as well as conducting orchestras, managing jazz ensembles and probably handling one or more choirs.

The real turnaround is in the vocational subject areas, such as business studies and design and technology, where recruitment into teaching has really fallen away since the end of the recession and the downward trend in unemployment rates. Whereas just 16% of the 2014 design and technology NQTs might be expected to be a middle leader after five years, this has increased to 75% of the 2018 trainees that are likely to be expected to take on middle leadership roles.

Fortunately, there were a few years of good to adequate recruitment that will allow some slack from which to provide the necessary supply of heads of department. However, the longer the crisis in ITT recruitment continues, the more there will be a crisis in middle leadership at some point in the 2020s.

As the IAC said in 1991, and I quoted in an earlier post, remuneration in teaching does need to keep pace with the rest of the economy if there are to be enough teachers. It is not good enough just for some head teachers and officers in some MATs to pay themselves market competitive salaries and for the government to ignore the pay and conditions of everyone else in teaching and other jobs in schools.

Also, as I warned in an earlier post, if potential applicants expect lower tuition fees, and don’t see that happening in the autumn, will they hold back their application this autumn in an expectation of lower fees at some point in the future?

Advertisements

Retention deserves more attention

The issue of teacher retention has been steadily climbing up the agenda, so that for many observers it now ranks alongside worries about recruitment into the teaching profession as a major area of concern. Taken together, the two factors are set to leave a lasting legacy in our schools that will have an effect, not only classroom teaching, but also middle leadership, for many years to come. A shortage of teachers, and especially of middle leaders, also hampers actions towards improving the schools were staff need both stable and high quality teachers to ensure the best outcomes for their pupils.

So, how bad might middle leadership recruitment become over the next few years? In theory, since the required number of middle leaders is a fairly fixed quantity, each school needs roughly similar numbers regardless of size, it is only the creation of new schools that should increase demand for middle leaders. The other reason for increased demand is as a result of greater departure rates than normal. The demographic upturn currently working its way through the secondary sector is creating new schools across many parts of the country: so that is a concern as more posts are being created.

On the demand side, the growing loss of teachers with five to seven years of experience from employment in state schools, as revealed by the School Workforce Census data that will be updated for 2018 later this week, is a major worry, as these are the very teachers the system might expect to be taking on middle leadership positions at that stage of their careers.

Finally, of course, the relationship between the number of new entrants to the profession and the indicative Teacher Supply Model figure for supply requirements is an important predictor of trouble ahead, especially where the ITT census number is substantially below the indicative TSM figure, as it has been for some years now in certain subjects.

Subject ITT census 2018 TLR vacancies 2019 to end June % ITT census 50% remain after 5 years Revised % as HoDs
Business Studies 175 134 77% 87.5 153%
Music 295 186 63% 147.5 126%
Computing 530 237 45% 265 89%
Religious Education 375 160 43% 187.5 85%
Design & Technology 285 107 38% 142.5 75%
Drama 300 108 36% 150 72%
Art & Design 475 135 28% 237.5 57%

Source TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk

This table takes some subjects where the award of a TLR is likely to mean a substantial degree of middle leadership responsibilities, due to the size of the subject department. Mathematics, English and the Sciences are not included, as they often offer TLR posts below head of department level.  While science departments may struggle to recruit particular types of scientists to offer a broad curriculum, they should be less of an issue finding sufficient candidates to lead science as an overall subject.

Assuming that only 50% of those identified in the ITT census last November are still in teaching in five years, i.e. September 2024, and the TLRs on offer are similar to the situation so far in 2019, up to 21st June, then even in art and design, half of remaining teachers in the cohort entering teaching this year might expect to become middle leaders. For business studies and music, either there will need to be a drop in demand from schools, or teachers are likely to be promoted earlier in their careers to become middle leaders, sometimes before they are ready to do so.

This issue, and the concerns about ensuring middle leaders have the appropriate preparation for the role, deserves more attention than it has received. Indeed, this is one cogent reason why abolishing the National College was a strategic mistake, and detrimental to the progress of school improvement across all schools in England.

 

 

 

OECD’s Bill of health on teachers

Today the OECD publishes their latest TALIS report. (Teaching and Learning International Study) This report is about teachers and school leaders as lifelong learners. In addition to the full report, there are digests of the evidence from particular countries produced as separate country reports. It is important to note that the country report is headed England (UK). I assume that it is just schools in England included. This is important since education is a devolved activity.

When reading the report it is also of importance to start from the end and to note that the response rate from teachers and school leaders in England was generally only regarded as ‘fair’. Indeed, in some aspects the response wasn’t very far above the level regarded as too low to use in the survey. The other caveat, as far as I am concerned, is around the term ‘lower secondary’. This is not a discrete phase in England except in Central Bedfordshire, Northumberland and a few other towns around the country where 9-13 middle schools still exist, and, of course, in the independent sector where many ‘prep’ schools can be regarded as partly covering the lower secondary age range.  This may especially affect views on the nature of principals as, presumably most replying from the state sector in England were head teachers of secondary schools.

Almost all secondary teachers are trained through the post-degree professional training route, whether that training is in universities, SCITTs or schools. That is not the model throughout much of the OECD, where teacher preparation often still occurs alongside the acquisition of subject knowledge.

What is interesting is the relatively small degree of change recorded on a number of the items between the 2013 and 2018 TALIS studies, at least as far as England is concerned.

As the retirement boom of the first decade of this century fades into history, it is clear that the teaching force in England is generally younger than in many OECD countries. There is a slightly higher proportion of men in the workforce than across the OECD at 36% compared to 34% as the OECD average, but fewer women are principals – 41% against the OECD average of 47%. As a result of the age profile, the average length of service of a teacher in England is 13 years, compared to the OECD average of 17 years and more than 20 years in the small Baltic States.

Length of service is important in how it can affect attitudes to professional development. Older more experienced teachers may take a different attitude to professional development than that of teachers in the first few years of their careers; I dislike the TALIS term of ‘novice teacher’.

The BBC have chosen to highlight the issue of cyber-bullying and the fact that head teachers in England are more likely to face problems with pupils bullying online and misusing social media than in any other developed country. However, there seems to have been little change in classroom behaviour faced by teachers in England between the 2013 and 2018 studies.

Finally, although teachers saw the need for more funding and resources, the response of teachers to increasing their salaries was below the OECD average. This is despite teachers in England not being as well paid as those in many other OECD countries.

Too little: too late?

First it was Boris; then Mrs May and finally some of the other leadership contenders. What were they talking about? Not Brexit, although of course all the contenders for the Conservative Party leadership have been trying themselves up in knots of various tightness on that issue, but rather funding for schools.

Reading the runes of what was being outlined, it seems cuts to tuition fees might be some way down the track. If funding for schools and further education is back on the Tory Party agenda, it is difficult to see how the Treasury would be willing to spend more on higher education funding in the immediate future, especially once other Ministers put out their begging bowls. Sure, funding for International Development might be cut to below the level currently agreed to make some savings. This might be justified by citing Donald Trump and the USA level of aid. There might also be some cash to allow higher spending because of better tax revenues, but the police and Ministry of Justice have a real claim on extra cash to fight the rise in certain types of crime, including knife crime and the NHS can always do with more cash.

How much of the suggested increase in funding for education is real, and how much merely determined by the fact that pupil numbers will continue to increase over the next few years, is difficult to determine from the level of the pronouncements made so far, except for Boris’s statement on secondary schools. Not recognising the needs of further education and 16-18 funding might make Boris’s statement about £5,000 per pupil in the secondary sector look like vote catching idea, rather than a serious analysis of where the Tory Party’s current school funding policy has made a mistake. At least in the TV debate, FE, apprenticeships, and skills did receive a mention and, unless I missed, it selective education didn’t.

Any talk about increasing education funding by Conservative may be a case of too little and too late. The warning signs have been there for some time, and the fact that school funding didn’t play much of a part in either of the last two general elections was a bit of a surprise, although the effects on the ground were less obvious than the reductions in school reserves and the consequences of changes to come that are obvious to those that manage budgets, but were not then visible to parents.

For me the funding priorities are: 16-18 funding; early years and children’s centres; SEND funding and protecting rural schools facing falling rolls as the birth rate declines and the housing market stalls. There are other priorities, including metal health, although some cash has been allocated for this, and teacher preparation and career development. All staff will need competitive pay increases if the wider labour market remains as it currently is, but that will be true for the whole of the public sector and might reduce the amount specifically available for education; hence my earlier comment about the challenge in trying to reduce tuition fees.

Unless there is an emergency budget, any changes are not likely to reach schools before April or September 2021 at the earliest.

Good news on absence rates

More than a quarter of pupils in primary and secondary schools didn’t take any time off from school during the autumn term of 2018 according to recent DfE figures https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/pupil-absence-in-schools-in-england-autumn-term-2018

The most common reasons for absence was reported as illness, followed by attendance at medical, dental or presumably opticians appointments (although this last one isn’t specified). Could more be done to look at how these appointments are organised, particularly for certain key year groups? Should receptionists be required to ask the Year Group of a child when booking an appointment and recognise the importance of certain times in a young person’s education and, if possible, take this into account?

Overall absence rates for 2018 were lower than in either of the previous two years, at 71.6% of enrolments, compared with 74.3% in 2016. Of course, last winter was relatively mild and not especially wet across most of England, and the weather may play a part in determining the level of these figures. It must be easier to go to school when the sun is out than on a cold foggy morning if you feel a bit down and are faced with the prospect of wait at the bus stop in the drizzle.

It might be interesting to see if there is any correlation with the weather and days of the week and absence rates?

The dates of specific religious festivals that move around the calendar obviously have an effect upon attendance rates, as these figures show. In 2016, such absences counted for a notable amount of the authorised absences, whereas in 2018 the figure was negligible.

Holidays in term time remain contentious, with the percentage of unauthorised such holiday several times higher than the agreed holidays figure. Such unauthorised holidays are more common in the primary sector, when family structures and children’s ages presumably make the desire for a family holiday greater than during the period when pressure on studying for exams is greater.

However, it would be interesting to see a figure for voluntary attendance on Saturdays to counter balance this negative view of time lost by pupils. I am increasingly overwhelmed by the number of pupils and teachers that take time to attend when they don’t have to do so. This despite the obvious concerns over teacher workload. Again, this voluntary service needs more notice than it receives outside of the profession.

Next time someone talks of the long holidays that teachers have, ask them when they last went into work on a Saturday or did a voluntary extra shift to help their customers?

There is still a worrying percentage of pupils being excluded with no alternative provision being made, even in the autumn term. Regional School Commissioners need to ask academies how much they are contributing to this figure.

Finally, after two years when the number was on the increase, there was a welcome fall in the number of pupils classified as persistent absentees. At 10.9% of enrolments it still marks a waste of talent and is helping to store up problems for the future. But, at least the figure is lower than in both 2016 and 2017.

 

 

Focus is now on September

When schools re-open tomorrow, they should know the extent of any challenges they face to ensure a fully staffed curriculum for this September, barring any last minute accidents. Although unusual in nature, the long lead time for resignations does allow for schools to have the best part of three months to fill any last minute vacancies. Compare this with say, the NHS, where officials told a meeting I was at last week of staff only required to provide a month’s notice, but recruitment taking as long as three month. Even for January vacancies, schools generally have two months to find a replacement.

By the end of May, TeachVac http://www.teachvac.co.uk had recorded an average of 7 advertisements per secondary school in England for main grade teachers. For schools in London, the average was even higher, at just over 9 advertisements per school. To balance this, in the North West, the average was a little under 4.5 advertisements per school.

Add in the primary sector and promoted posts and the overall total so far in 2019 for vacancies has already exceeded the 40,000 mark.

As already recorded on this blog, a number of subjects are classified by TeachVac as carrying a ‘Red’ warning. This means schools anywhere in England can expect increasing difficulties in recruiting a teachers for either September 2019 or January 2020.

Based upon the latest recruitment data from UCAS, for graduate teacher preparation courses starting in September 2019, and discussed in a previous post on this blog, it seems likely that the 2020 recruitment round in many subjects in the secondary school curriculum is not going to be any easier than the 2019 round, especially as pupil numbers will be higher than this year.

The labour market for primary classroom teachers looks to be more stable than for secondary classroom teachers, although there are still issues with particular posts in certain locations.

Even if the EU is no longer a source of teacher supply, and some other countries have stopped training far more teachers than they need, it seems likely that attracting teachers from overseas will be a key route to filling January vacancies. However, competition in what is now a global teaching market is much greater than in the past, so teaching will need to be a competitive career or risk not only recruitment issues but also problems with retention levels as well, especially for middle leadership posts in expensive areas of the country.

 

Non to EBacc recruitment?

Schools don’t want EBacc teachers. Apart from mathematics, where recruitment into training was poor for last September (as has already been noted), schools seeking to fill vacancies in the other main Ebacc subjects aren’t having the same issues as they are with recruitment in some non-Ebacc subjects.

Computer Science will be the next Ebacc subject to see a Red Warning posted on TeachVac, www.teachvac.co.uk but it will be a close run thing with Religious Education as to which subject reaches the level of a red warning first.

The Ebacc subjects of history, geography and modern languages are still a long way away from seeing any posting of a red warning, and even English and the Sciences overall still have a distance to go before we reach that level of concern. However, schools looking for specific curriculum experience will always find the pool smaller than the overall total.

As ever, in determining the outcome of this recruitment round, much depends upon the numbers seeking to return to teaching after a career break and the rate of departure from the profession.

The DfE could do far more with ‘Keep in Touch‘ schemes for those leaving and the STRB might want to look at reversing the rule that a salary on departure for a career break isn’t protected. Schools can look at offering other less demanding roles for those on a career break to earn some money once maternity leave has finished, such as invigilating, lesson planning or even help with marking. Some of these tasks can be undertaken at home and can provide extra cash, as might helping with one to one tuition. Helping teachers keep in touch and stay up to date is a certain way of ensuring a greater rate of return to the profession probably earlier than in some other circumstances.

The balance between small sixth form numbers and growing KS3 numbers is also causing headaches for some schools, and no doubt adding to the financial problems some schools are facing. In a more cooperative age, schools might pool timetables in minority subjects. This is another area where competition and devolved budgets make sensible arrangements more of a challenge to organise than when there was a great willingness to make the best use of limited resources. Now the demand is for more resources as the only way forward.

How are schemes to recruit and retain teachers from the EU faring? It might be worth a PQ or two from some MP to ascertain what the DfE think is happening compared with recent recruitment rounds? And how are overseas teachers from what one might call the Gove countries reacting to the need for teachers in England? Are we seeing more Australian, New Zealand, Canadian and US teachers than in recent years flooding to our shores?

This week looks set to be the peak of the 2109 recruitment round with probably 6-7,000 new vacancies posted by schools during the course of the week.