Dear Prime Minister

Would you like some good news? On your return from Birmingham, you will no doubt be asking Ministers how their departments can save money. Here is one suggestion. I am not unbiased in making this suggestion, as it could benefit TeachVac, the job board that I chair. However, TeachVac was in existence before the DfE started its own version and has consistently shown how to achieve a low-cost approach to vacancy listing as our accounts at Companies House will confirm. Reviewing the DfE site could also save the government money.

We suggested originally that the DfE need only provide a page pointing those seeking teaching posts to available sites in the private sector, and another for schools showing the relative costs of using different sites. However, in response to the Public Accounts Committee, the DfE decided on a more costly intervention and created its own job board.

TeachVac is currently offering secondary schools a deal of 12 months of unlimited matches for just £250 and a mere £50 for primary schools. How much per vacancy does the DfE cost to provide?

Reproduced below is a post from 2020 that further makes the case for saving money on the DfE’s job board. Our monitoring since then suggests that the DfE site has gained little traction in the market and may be losing ground in terms of teaching vacancies uploaded.

DfE and Teacher Vacancies: Part Two

Posted on April 3, 2021

The DfE is spending more money supporting their latest venture into the teacher recruitment market. SchoolsWeek has uncovered the latest moves by the government to challenge existing players in this market https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfe-leans-on-mats-to-boost-teacher-job-vacancies-website-take-up/ in an exclusive report.

The current DfE foray into the recruitment market follows the failure of the Fast Track Scheme of two decades ago and the Schools Recruitment Service that fizzled out a decade ago. The present attempt also came on the heels of the fiasco around a scheme to offer jobs in challenging schools in the north of England that never progressed beyond the trial phase.

The present DfE site rolled out nationally two years ago this month. How successful it has been was the subject of a SchoolsWeek article earlier this year. https://schoolsweek.co.uk/dfes-teacher-job-website-carries-only-half-of-available-positions/  This blog reviewed the market for vacancy sites for teachers last December, in a post entitled Teacher Vacancy Platforms: Pros and Cons that was posted on December 7, 2020.

In that December post, I looked at the three key sites for teacher vacancies in England. TeachVac; the DfE Vacancy site and the TES. As I pointed out, this was not an unbiased look, because I am Chair of the company that owns TeachVac. Indeed, I said, it might be regarded as an advertisement, and warned readers to treat it in that way.

There is an issue with how much schools spend on recruitment of teachers. After all, that was why TeachVac was established eight years ago. The DfE put the figure in their evidence to the STRB this year at around £75 million; a not insubstantial figure.

Will TeachVac be squeezed out in a war between the DfE backed by unlimited government funding and the TES with a big American backer? At the rate TeachVac is currently adding new users, I don’t think so. After all, the DfE site doesn’t cover independent schools, and in the present market I believe that most teachers want a site that allows access to all teaching jobs and not just some. That benefits both TeachVac and the TES as well as other players in the market, such as The Guardian and SchoolsWeek, as well as recruitment agencies.

How much the DfE will need to spend on ensuring they cover the whole of the state-funded job market in terms of acquiring vacancies by the ‘school entering vacancies’ method is another interesting question? As is, how much will it also cost to drive teachers to using the DfE site and not TeachVac or the TES?

A view of TeachVac’s account reveals that TeachVac provides access to more jobs for teachers at less than the DfE is going to spend on promoting their site over the next few months. Such spending only makes good commercial sense if you want to remove a player from the market.

So, here’s a solution. Hire TeachVac to promote the DfE site and use the data TeachVac already generates to monitor the working of the labour market. After all, that was also one of the suggestions from the Public Accounts Committee Report that spurred the DfE into action and the creation of their present attempt at running a vacancy site.

Consequences, and a bit of history

Now that the DfE has published the list of accredited ITT providers, I thought it might be interesting to reprise the post below from 2013 that highlights the start of the journey to where the sector is today.

The list of reaccredited providers, published by the DfE, seems to have radically slimmed down the school-based side of ITT at the cost of a few higher education establishments also having accreditation withdrawn. If the list is correct, when some long-established providers of ITT will no longer be involved in teacher preparation as a top tier provider and will need to partner with another accredited provider.

The geographical implications of the loss of some providers will take time to work out, but South East London may we one area affected by the changes. Some long-established SCITTs seem to be no more, but some of the overtly religious SCITTs seem to have survived.

Clarity ahead of Select Committee – but still not good news

Posted on September 9, 2013

What has become clear this afternoon is that the DfE may have faced a dilemma last autumn. With the national roll-out of School Direct being enthusiastically taken up by schools, it could either have effectively wiped-out the university-based PGCE courses by meeting the demands of schools or it could have denied schools the places they were asking for in School Direct. The DfE targets for secondary subjects did not allow the third option of satisfying both schools applying for School Direct places and keeping the PGCE going and still keeping within the targets. The extent of the problem can be seen by comparing Table 2b in the underlying data of Statistical Bulletin 32/2013 issued by the DfE on the 13th August and Figure 1 of the School Direct management information published this afternoon by the National College for Teaching and Leadership. In practice, the DfE seems to have chosen a third way by creating inflated ‘allocations’ to try to keep higher education going, but still to satisfy the demands from schools for places. This exercise risked substantial over-recruitment against the real targets.

So, what happened? Looking just at the STEM subjects, Chemistry had an allocation of 1,327 in the Statistical Bulletin, but a target of 820 places in Figure 1 of today’s document – a difference of 507. To date, recruitment has been 900 according to Figure 1, so the subject is over-recruited against target, but significantly under-recruited against allocations. School Direct, where bids totalled 422 places last November, and reached around 500 by the time all bids had been collected, apparently recruited just 260 trainees, leaving higher education to recruit the other 640.

Sadly, in Mathematics, Physics, and Biology, despite the target being well below the allocation figure, the target has not been met. In Physics the shortfall is 43% against the target; and in Mathematics, 22%. In Biology it is just 6%. However, these percentages do not reflect the actual numbers who have started courses; that number may be greater or smaller than those released today.

Indeed, in no subject was the allocation met, although in business studies it was missed by just one recruit. However, the target in this subject is apparently higher than the allocation in August, although that may have something to do with classification. Less clear is the Religious Education position where the target is shown as 450, but the allocation in August was 434 for postgraduate courses. Somewhere another 16 places have been added since August when they have been subtracted in most other subjects.

I have suspected for some time that the allocations were above the level required by the DfE’s model, and have hinted as much in earlier posts. More than 40,000 trainees did seem an excessive number to train.

School Direct works in subjects where there are lots of high-quality applicants looking to train as a teacher. At the other end of the scale are subjects where either the schools didn’t bid for many places, as in Art & Design or recruitment is a real challenge, as in Physics.

These are the subjects where School Direct faces its greatest challenges for 2014, and where the DfE/NCSL seemingly still cannot do without higher education.

What is also clear is that the DfE cannot repeat this same exercise this autumn for 2014 recruitment. It will have to make it clear how many trainees are needed according to the model. If it does not do so, students will be paying £9,000 in fees without knowing whether they are a target or an allocation, and totally uncertain about their chance of securing a teaching post. That won’t attract many takers in an improving graduate job market as the risks are too high.

Over the next few weeks, it will be interesting to see how the effects of the reaccreditation pan out both for providers and for those seeking to start to train in 2023. In the 1980s, I worked at a college where ITT had been withdrawn. It was not a happy place to be. I, therefore, send my best wishes to all those involved in the outcome of the reaccreditation process.

STEM subjects ‘late recruiters’?

Yesterday’s post about the grim news on recruitment onto teacher preparation courses for 2022/23 didn’t mine all the possible information provided in the DfE data published in the monthly update.

One interesting statistic are how the proportion of applicants for secondary subjects has changed over the course of the year. Last December, I wrote a blog post pointing out that nearly half of early applicants came from just three subjects: English, mathematics and physical education.  Half of secondary ITT applicants in just 3 subjects | John Howson (wordpress.com)

As expected, physical education trended lower as the year progressed, and places on courses filled up. The subject ended the year on 19% of total applications – down 5% on December. English also lost ground, down from 13% in December to 8% by September. However, mathematics seemed to be a ‘late attracting subject’, as by September the subject accounted for 18% of applications, up from 12% in December.

Removing these three subjects from the list and comparing the moves among the remaining subjects shows relatively little difference in many subjects in their position in the ranking.

SubjectTotal DecemberPercentage DecemberTotal SeptemberPercentage September% Difference
Art and design3786%24107%1
Biology5529%345710%1
Business studies2835%16014%1
Chemistry5098%405511%3
Classics621%2611%na
Computing3095%22486%1
Design and technology2434%16385%1
Drama3526%14264%-2
Geography3856%24987%1
History105718%453113%-5
Modern foreign languages5689%388011%2
Music1913%11603%0
Other5649%23216%-3
Physics3075%28308%3
Religious education2314%15414%0
5991100%35857100%
When do different subjects recruit?

As might have been predicted, drama and history lost ground once courses filled up. The sciences were the main winners. This suggests that subjects that may have a higher proportion of men may recruit later in the round – we cannot know for certain as the data on gender isn’t published by subject – but it is a plausible hypothesis to discuss in relation to gender and STEM subjects.

The second hypothesis is that subjects where potential teachers know there may be difficulty in securing a place on a teacher preparation course will recruit earlier in the year. These bellwether subjects, such as history, physical education and also the primary sector can provide early warning on what might be to come in the autumn months.

As a piece of history, it was using this second hypothesis in the early 2000s that prompted me to call a recruitment crisis as early as one November and to be warned off by the then Minister’s Private Office in a phone call I took while a passenger in a car travelling down the M5 in Somerset for creating panic. The following March, the training grant was suddenly announced. Perhaps, I have been at this subject for too long.

Knowing this sort of information about recruitment trends can make the use of expensive TV marketing more precise. Is the present TV campaign a good use of money or would it be better aimed at STEM subjects in the spring?

Grim news on recruitment

The latest monthly statistics on applications and acceptances for graduate teacher preparation courses starting this autumn were published by the DfE this morning. These numbers mark the end of the first year of the DfE management of the application process for all graduate courses except Teach First.

Regular readers will not be surprised by what follows, as the headline outcome around under-recruitment for the year has been expected for several months, and this blog has commented upon the direction of travel each month in its regular updates.

The total number of applications at 39,288 falls well short of the 43,300 recorded for September 2021 as domiciled in England. More alarming is that the recruited number at 20,170 is just short of 7,000 lower than the 27,100 number of September 2021. The conditions pending number at 3,719 is also below the 2021 number of 5,980, and the remining possible applicants either awaiting a decision or from whom a decision is awaited on an offer are also lower than last year.

Compared with September 2021, there are 111,592 applications in September 2022 against 115,300 last year domiciled in England. Especially worrying has been the reduction in applicants from the youngest age groups of graduates. Those new graduates under age 25 form the bedrock of those recruited into teaching as a career and any serious fall is bad news.

Age Group20212022
21 and under39203833
2238103110
2330002347
2423401698
Total placed1307010988
young graduates not interested in teaching as a career?

These are the groups from where the future leaders of the teaching profession will be drawn. According to the data released today, there are just fewer than 15,000 females placed onto courses this year compared with just over 19,000 last September. For males the numbers are 5,514 this year and 7,550 in September 2021. Unknown or referred not to say increased from 440 in 2021 to 175 with only three not in the ‘prefer not to say category’. Fewer candidates with domiciles in each region have been recruited in 2022 than in 2021. However, more important is the split between primary and secondary sectors.

There are 9,763 applications recruited in the primary sector in September 2022 compared with 12,690 in September 2021. Unsuccessful applications have fallen from 38,800 in 2021 to 35,962 this September. However, the percentage of unsuccessful applications has increased from 72% to 74$. Of course, this may mean applicants being accepted and their other applications being shown as unsuccessful. We will need the ITT Census to determine the exact recruitment into both primary and secondary training.

For secondary courses the situation is more complicated because of the different subjects and the different sizes of their graduate pools. The good news is that both geography and design and technology are likely to recruit more trainees than in 2021. The bad news is that the increase, if confirmed by the ITT Census won’t be enough to meet targets set by the DfE. In other subjects, there will be sufficient history and physical education trainees and a large surge in applications for IT and computing may make the total in that subject ore respectable, if these trainees turn up and stay the course.

Overall, the assessment for the secondary sector is that for 2023 to be anything other than a grim labour market for schools and a great time for teachers, there needs to be more returners and fewer departure overseas. I am not sure that either of those conditions will be in place by the time schools start recruiting in January 2023 for September.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk will be monitoring the job market and is the ideal site to find a teaching post.

With the concerns over the shape of teacher recruitment following the DfE’s actions the next few months will be an interesting time in the labour market for teachers and likely outcomes even as far ahead as 2024. While the primary sector will probably not be too badly affected, the issue of selective schools now looms over the secondary sector to add to the other recruitment concerns.

Thank you, Ma’am.

Although state education may not have featured highly in the life of the late Queen, the occasional school openings and honours ceremonies apart, we can all recognise and give thanks for her life of service to the nation. Perhaps the new King might like to create some Regis Professorships in Education in memory of his mother?

As one of those born during the reign of King George VI, I am old enough to recall the transition of power from one monarch to another. Indeed, an early memory is of learning the word ‘catafalque’ in connection with the ceremonial lying-in state in Westminster Hall, itself a building of great historic significance.

The Coronation was the first time that I saw a television programme, clustered around a small black and white screen belonging to someone my parents knew. Not much about the actual day remains in my memory, although the official programme for the day shows both the order of service and the arrangement of the carriage procession around the streets of London to allow as many people as possible to witness the spectacle and pageantry.

It was while at primary school that I first saw The Queen in person, when she attended the annual Horse of the Year Show, then held in the now long demolished Haringay Stadium in North London.  I suppose we what might these days be called groupies attending outside the stadium to watch the horses prepare for the events inside after the end of the school day and until well into the early evening. Each year, The Queen would arrive by car and drive into the arena while we watched from the side-lines. In those days there was no security cordon or questions about what primary school age children were doing out by themselves. Such is progress.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will attend the local reading of the proclamation in Oxford. This takes place at the historic centre of the city at Carfax crossing, and the statement will be read by the High Sheriff of Oxfordshire. It will take a bit of time to adjust to the new reign and to substitute King for Queen in many formal parts of life. But it will soon become second nature.

I hope that our new King will show some interest in the state school system. He, reputedly, didn’t enjoy some of his secondary schooling and that may show that parents need to think about would be best for their children.

When it comes to planning the Coronation, I hope that young people will be invited to play a part, to represent the Britain of today and tomorrow alongside the traditional military and other ceremonial. A modern nation must be able to do modern ceremonial as well as recreating the past. After all that was splendidly demonstrated when the Olympics came to London. A 21st century Coronation for a modern forward-thinking nation putting its history in its place but not overwhelmed by it would be a great tribute to the new King.  

Memo to incoming PM

Despite the record levels of tax receipts, the present economic situation does suggest that genuine economies should be looked for in the public sector. So, here are a few from the school sector that might be worth investigating.

First, sort out the cost of the failed middle tier experiment. Overall, the national leadership costs from academy chains are way too high. This has been recognised in the dreadful Bill working its way through parliament. Maybe there is a need for more than 150 Directors of Children’s Services, but do we need all these additional Chief Officers with their associated costs? Much of the inflated costs stretch back to failure to get grip on Executive Headships by the Labour government under Tony Blair. Sort out the shape of the school system and save money.

Recruiting teachers: axe the DfE jobsite in its present form and put the cost out to tender. As this blog has consistently pointed out, the present DfE site fails on several fronts, and probably isn’t even as cost effective as local authority jobsites.

Encourage central procurement. Delegated budget to schools is a great idea, but so is central purchasing. Do more to facilitate such outcomes across Trusts and local authorities.

Axe the Apprenticeship Levy for small primary schools, or at least reform it so that there can be a benefit. At present it is just a tax on schools.

Dump the tax on Insurance. This would help more than schools, and, at present, taxes the virtuous while encouraging others to avoid protecting themselves and their possessions.

Introduce a fund for investment in renewable energy that schools can use to spread the cost of introducing new energy sources over several years. Target the fund first at small schools in rural areas where the school can act as a community energy hub if the grid fails in a storm or for other reasons.

Regular readers will know my feelings about making use of playgrounds in supporting energy procurement. Where is the research programme

Longer-term, evaluate how teacher preparation programmes can meet the needs of the school sector in the most cost-effective manner, especially as school rolls start to reduce and fewer new teachers may be needed.

Review the National Funding Formula, and whether it meets its aims? In its present form, will it lead to wholesale closure of small schools as unviable financially, and what will be the costs of such closures and who will bear them?

The National Funding formula doesn’t take any account of whether schools can top-up income by lettings; from wealthy parents or by selling resources. As such, it is a crude instrument for school funding and needs a rethink.  Schools in pockets of disadvantage in otherwise wealthy areas are especially vulnerable unless in a MAT that is prepared to switch funds between schools. Much depends upon what the school system is trying to achieve and how the financing can be used to help. Equality based on superficial equal shares of the funds available has its consequences.

So, Prime minister, we need a world-beating school system for all. Over to you.  

London teacher labour market most active

August was a more active month than normal in the labour market for teachers. Although vacancies in the primary sector were subdued, the secondary sector remained active, with nearly 800 new vacancies published during the month according to TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk

Nearly two thirds of the vacancies, 64%, were posted by located schools in London, the South East and East of England regions, with the remainder of the country accounting for only around a third of vacancies. In some subjects, the percentage was even higher, with 29 out of the 40 posts for teachers of geography listed by schools in these three regions. No such posts were tracked across either the North East or North West regions.

As might be expected, demand for teachers of history during August was limited, with just 14 posts identified. Interestingly, only two of these posts were advertised by schools in London and the three regions of London, the South East and East of England only accounted for 5 of the 14 vacancies.

TeachVac provides a regular monthly newsletter for both schools and teachers. The service is free to teachers, as is the use of the jo board to match teachers to vacancies on a daily basis.

Schools pay a nominal fee of £10 for their newsletter.

From the end of this month, TeachVac will end its free matching service for schools. To cover its operating costs, and ensure that data collection remains of the highest quality, from October schools are being asked to pay £1 for every match made between a teacher and one of their vacancies. There is an annual limit of £500 per secondary school, beyond which point remaining matches in the 12 months are free. For primary schools, the cap is set at £75. This means just 75 matches are required to hit the limit, and all further matches that year are free.

During September, TeachVac has put in place a special offer of £250 for secondary schools and just £50 for primary schools: effectively, half-price for an annual subscription regardless of the annual number of matches made during the year.

To date, in 2022, TeachVac has made 1.95 million matches between jobseekers and schools with vacancies, covering both state-funded and private schools across England. By the end of September, the 2 million matches mark will have been passed.

Schools, MATs, diocese and other groups signing up now at enquiries@teachvac.co.uk will always be placed at or near the top of the daily matching algorithm, ensuring teachers see their vacancies first. This is an added bonus on top of the half-price offer.

If you would like more information, either email enquiries@teachvac.co.uk or send me a message via the comment section.

Please circulate this post to those responsible for recruitment in schools. Sign up in September for a half-price fixed fee. If you need convincing, ask TeachVac how many matches have been made in 2022 for your school or group of schools using the email address above and the code MATCH22.

Marketing schools: value for money?

Can we afford to spend millions on marketing schools to parents in the present cost of living crisis? Mrs Thatcher has been credited with creating a need for school marketing by introducing the concept of ‘parental choice’ into schooling after winning the 1979 general election. However, even before her victory in 1979, some schools were already seeing the need to compete for pupils during a period when the numbers transferring to secondary schools in some areas were already in decline.

I seem to recall that before I left Haringey in 1979, at least one school in Tottenham had already produced a colour brochure extolling its virtues to parents. By the mid-1980s, the idea of choice and marketing to encourage parents to select schools was already sufficiently acceptable for a publisher to ask me to put together ‘The Parents’ Guide to Secondary Schools in London’s Commuterland’ (ISBN 978-0333404447 but long out of print). By the 1990s, one of my students at Brookes University was writing a research article entitled: The School Brochure: A Marketing Tool? (Educational Management & Administration, v23 n2 p89-95 Apr 1995) and presenting a paper at a BERA conference, before going on to a distinguished career in higher education.

Now at that time I seem to recall that the definition of marketing was something along the lines of: “to seek, sense and satisfy, needs, wants and aspirations, within a legal, ethical and financial framework.”

After more than forty years of marketing schools, this summer’s examination results have highlighted the gap that still remains between examination outcomes, both across the country and between schools. So, has the money spent on marketing parental choice made schooling better or worse than before, and, more importantly, can we afford the cost to society?

It is interesting, within the definition quoted above, what schools don’t tell parents. Most, for instance, don’t mention the qualifications of their staff to teach the age group or the subject and how they have kept up to date with changing teaching and assessment, preferring to rely upon Ofsted while at the same time complaining loudly about the methods of assessing schools.

The head of the secondary school in Rutland that refused to join in the annual exam results ritual.  Uppingham Community College chose not to publish GCSE headline figures due to there not being ‘a level playing field in education’. Rutland achieves best GCSE results in England (stamfordmercury.co.uk) may be an outlier, but might this mark the start of a trend?

With the in-coming government likely to need to make savings, is marketing state schools an area where some limits should be placed on the amount that state-schools can spend on marketing each year?

After all, the Conservative government has been happy to introduce regulations on school uniforms – see earlier post on the topic – and on recruitment costs, by its free job board. However, the latter doesn’t seem to have reduced the spending in that area very much. Perhaps, because there are not enough teachers to go around.

Might the teacher associations be persuaded to back any curb on marketing if is could be shown that the savings could be applied to fund the inevitable pay rise that must surely come at some point if inflation continues out of control.

In recent years, I have wondered whether parental choice and the associated spending on marketing allowed government to avoid the issue of providing a first-class education for every child? As a result, spending money on marketing seems worth a debate in the present economic climate.

Success in ITT, but at what price?

In my previous post about the July postgraduate ITT numbers, I concentrated just on the headlines, and the potentially dire implications for the 2023 teacher recruitment round if the collapse of the economy doesn’t both stem departures from teaching and encourage more returners back into the profession.

In this post, I want to look in more detail at the data in the July numbers, now published by the DfE. Monthly statistics on initial teacher training (ITT) recruitment – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) The total number of candidates applying has reached 35,633, but this compares badly with the 44,970 of July 2021. More alarming is the fact that the ‘recruited’ total is down from 8,620 in July 2021 to 3,911 this July. That’s the number in the bag, so to say, and most likely to turn up when courses commence. Even more worrying that the number with ‘conditions pending’ is down from 23,030 to 18,699. The number of withdrawn candidates has increased from 1,281 last July to 2,010 this July.  These are not good numbers for the health of the profession.

Comparing the ‘other’ column against ‘all applications’ in the July 2021 data and the ‘unsuccessful’ against ‘all applications’ in the July 2022 data shows that across all subjects more applications have been successful.

Subject2021 Successful2022 SuccessfulDifference
Languagesna29%na
Computer Studies21%28%7%
D&T27%34%7%
Physics23%30%7%
Music28%34%6%
Art26%32%6%
Business Studies20%26%6%
Biology23%29%6%
Mathematics23%28%5%
PE22%27%5%
RE27%32%5%
English25%30%5%
Drama29%33%4%
Chemistry27%31%4%
Geography27%31%4%
History26%30%4%
Classics23%25%2%
Source UCAS and DfE data

Whether the increase in the level of success is due to similar numbers of acceptable candidates against a smaller overall pool or providers accepting candidates that they might not have accepted before cannot be determined from the data. Perhaps it is a bit of both strategies that is taking place.

Applications are lower across all age groups this round, with the key new graduate ‘21 and under’ group down from 5,650 to 4,591 candidates this July. Those who gender is recorded as male candidate has fallen from 13,350 to 10,591. This is despite the number not recorded as either men or women falling from 1,240 to 351 this July.

Applications have fallen for both primary and secondary phase courses. Down from 51,310 to 43,242 for the former and from 65,990 to 53,532 for the latter.

While numbers applying for postgraduate teaching apprenticeships increased from 3,610 to 4,427 applications; a modest increase, but, nevertheless an increase: all other routes had witnessed a decline in applications.

Hopefully, at least in the context of teacher preparation courses, this will be as bad as it will be, and next year the changes in the broader economy will once again swing the pendulum back towards the desirability of teaching as a career, perhaps aided by a recognition of the necessary rewards required to attract and retain teachers. If not, then the government will have set a record in terms of the length of the period of under-recruitment into teacher preparation courses.

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.