TeachVac or the DfE site?  

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

There 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. 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 in a sidebar to the vacancy page.

At present, the coverage of the DfE’s site is limited 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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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?

 

 

How has teacher expertise changed recently?

Following on from the previous post about today’s EPI study, I thought that I would update the Table from the Migration Advisory Committee report on teacher expertise, with the findings of the 2016 and 2017 School Workforce Census.

The percentage of hours taught in a typical week to pupils in years 7 to 13 by teachers with no subject relevant post A-level qualification
2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Maths 16 16 18 17 20 18 12.8 12.9
Physics 21 24 26 26 28 25 24.6 24.8
D&T 11 15 18 17 19 17 14.2 14.1
ICT 48   44 41 39 44 38 30.6 31.3
English 12 13 15 15 17 13 9.6   9.8
Geography 11 16 18 18 17 14 12.5 12.9
History 10 13 15 15 15 11 8.6   8.8
PE   9 11 12 11 11   7    4   3.8
Source School Workforce Census as included in the Report of the Migration Advisory Committee with 2016 & 2017 data added.

Now, there is a teacher shortage and this blog had a spot of bother back in the summer of 2014 when it first revealed a possible teacher supply crisis. It is also accepted that teacher shortages overall and of those most appropriately qualified are likely to be most significant in schools with higher levels of deprivation than in areas of affluence. It is also worth recalling that pupil numbers in secondary schools were falling in the years up to 2016, and that budget pressures can also play a part in determining class sizes as well as availability of qualified teachers.

In further posts today, I will examine the UCAS data both for August this year, as a predictor of the 2019 supply side of the teacher labour market and then consider how 2019 compares with the previous two years for August’s in relation to the expectation of trainee numbers.

There is room for a genuine debate about how the teacher stock can be best used to provide the best outcomes for all pupils. But, that may require a degree of intervention by government not acceptable in a capitalist economy: hence, presumably, EPI’s suggestion of market based solutions. The failure of the attempts by the coalition government, of which David Laws the head of EPI was a serving Minister in the DfE, to create either a National Teaching Service or a method of providing head teachers to challenging schools, shows how complicated the labour market in teaching can be when no one body has overall control and budgets are allocated to individual schools. But, that debate has been well-rehearsed already on this blog.

There is also the issue of where increasing recruitment into training would mean more teacher unemployment? Can the system absorb more trainees? Evidence from TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk suggest that in mathematics that might be a challenge to employ increased numbers of trainees as there are unlikely to be many suppressed vacancies and increased supply might not be met be increased demand, unless those already teaching maths and regarded as under-qualified were either redeployed or made redundant in some way. Could making someone redundant to replace them with someone doing the same job, but with different qualifications, see some employment law challenges?

Fortunately, rising pupil numbers offers a way out of that dilemma, as does harnessing modern technology effectively to assist the teaching and learning process.

Am MIS system for teachers?

Does the government need a Management Information System (MIS) for teachers? In the past the answer was obviously no, as teachers were employed by schools operated by local authorities, diocese or various charities, including some London livery company foundations. The government needed a register of Qualified Teachers, not least so it has something to bar miscreants from that prevented them working as teachers, but presumably not as always calling themselves teachers, since ‘teacher’ isn’t a reserved occupation term that can be only used by appropriately qualified professionals. However, a barred teacher might still be guilty of an offence, such as ‘obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception’, if they held themselves out to be a teacher when on the barred list.

But, I digress from the question of whether the government needs an MIS system? It clearly also need to know who are members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and their service record, but again, that isn’t an MIS system.

What the government does have, in place of an MIS system, is the School Workforce Census, taken annually in November that records teachers currently in service. Since the mistaken abolition of the General Teaching Council for England, in the bonfire of the QUANGOs that also saw several other useful bodies disappear for little good reason, it hasn’t had a registration scheme to track both current teachers and those that might possibly be available at some point in the future to the profession, although it knows the number of ‘out of service’ teachers not working in state-funded schools.

Now, as can be seen by the manner in which the DfE’s Teacher Supply Model uses the School Workforce Census data for planning purposes, what data there is can be helpful to government in managing the future shape of the workforce. However, it is always out of date and backward looking. As a result, unlike a good MIS system, it cannot spot changes that might be vital for future planning as they happen in real time, and certainly not as early as the end of the recruitment round for September of any year.

Just to provide one example; how is the battle between tighter resources for schools and the growth in secondary school pupil numbers at Key Stage 3 while they are still falling or level at Key Stage 5 playing out in the labour market for teachers in 2018? And, is the fall in pupil numbers at Key Stage 1 already affecting the demand for teachers?

If a curious MP asks a question in September of the DfE about the recruitment round for 2018 they will be referred to the 2017 School Workforce Census that provides the most recent data available to the DfE. Is that good enough in this day and age?

The School Workforce Census has been amended and is likely to be further amended in 2019 to ask questions both about recruitment and why vacancies have arisen, thus making it more like a MIS system.

Schools already have complex databases about their staff and TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk already tracks the majority of vacancies in state-funded schools across England as they arise. To create a MIS system would be to create a dynamic system that recorded changes in the workforce as they happen.

For instance, how many NQTs will leave their first jobs in the autumn term and is there anything similar about the characteristics of the schools, the new teachers, or the type of school in which they were working?

In 1991, I visited Pakistan to help with some CPD for school leaders. At that time the government’s MIS system for teachers, provided by an aid package could have answered that question. Ministers here, still won’t be able to answer it until spring 2020, and the results of the 2019 School Workforce Census are published. Not good enough?

 

 

Marketing matters

TeachVac, the free recruitment site for schools and teachers, www.teachvac.co.uk is having a bumper August in terms of visitors. That’s not really a surprise, as Teachvac has upped the marketing budget to widen our reach even further than the record numbers of teachers reached during the recent peak recruitment season. The months between March and June witnessed records being broken every month.

August is a good time to market to teachers as they are often interacting with social media and may have more time than at other points in the year, apart from that week between Christmas and New Year.

TeachVac staff are also busy working away at updating all our information about schools. What was Edubase – now GIAS, ‘Government Information About Schools’ – seems to contain a proportion of errors. Most are trivial, names not yet updated or re-brokered academies were the data hasn’t caught up with the change. But, there are a small number of more serious issues, such as the primary school listed as a post-16 establishment and the multi-academy trusts where all schools are listed under the central office site, making it difficult for parents to know where each school is located and possibly skewing the data associated with the school that can affect the results for several different geographical areas.

Once TeachVac’s staff have completed their update, we will see if the DfE is interested in knowing of these issues? As it is a free service to schools and teachers, should TeachVac make a charge for such a service to the DfE?

On a different but not unrelated front, BERA, the British Education Research Association will publish a blog from 2016 posted on this site that I wrote about school recruitment differences across the country. This will form part of a new series BERA is promoting. I will provide the link to their site on the 5th September when it becomes active. It may also be possible to provide an update on the situation in 2018 to compare with the outcomes in 2016 what I wrote two years’ ago.

Next week will also see the August data from UCAS about recruitment to postgraduate teacher preparation courses starting this September. Although not the final figures, the August numbers do provide a clear direction of travel for the 2019 recruitment round. I hope to publish a three-year comparison of the August figures along with the regular monthly commentary.

 

TeachVac celebrates success

One of the questions I am regularly asked as chair of the company behind TeachVac (www.teachvac.co.uk), the free to schools and teachers job matching service for teachers, is ‘why does TeachVac use a defined system of matching teachers to vacancies?’ It is a good question. Unlike most system that have either evolved from print backgrounds or been based upon the same browsing concept of allowing everything to be seen by everyone, TeachVac evolved with a very different philosophy in mind.

TeachVac believed that those seeking a teaching post, whether new entrants finishing their training; existing teachers wanting to change jobs or seek promotion and returners looking to re-enter the world of teaching in a school somewhere in England all had similar needs in terms of looking for a teaching post. These can be summed up as; what phase; secondary or primary; where in a defined geographical area and at what grade or salary? Provide answers to these three questions and applicants can be presented with a range of vacancies that meet their needs from which to choose the ones they want to follow up through the application process.

As I was writing the above piece, the DfE published an update on their thoughts on vacancy information. Unlike TeachVac, the DfE doesn’t seem to place as high value on alerting teachers exclusively to vacancies that meet their needs. Undefined systems allow for very wide searches. Such an approach can swamp applicants for say, English vacancies in London during April. However, the alerts that are the foundation of a defined system help focus teachers on what type of vacancy, and where, they are seeking.

The defined request approach has two other benefits. Firstly, it makes it difficult for anyone wanting to offer candidates to schools with vacancies to easily track down the bulk of vacancies. Secondly, defined searches can provide better data about where candidates are looking for vacancies that can more open searching. Such data can help identify ‘cold’ spots where candidates are less interested in the vacancies as well as the more obvious hot spots.

Although TeachVac doesn’t do so, defined tracking can also help identify the schools within an area that receive the most interested through hits on the vacancy from the search. There is also a lot more that can be learned about candidate behaviour in terms of timings of both initial market research and actual applications. Should TeachVac provide annual profiles of vacancies by month for different parts of the country and different types of school?

TeachVac has just completed its fourth and most successful recruitment round. Staff are currently spending the summer sorting out queries about the DfE’s list of schools, a service we shouldn’t have to undertake at TeachVac, but one that is vital to ensure that candidates find the correct vacancies. How much quality control does the DfE exert over it supplier when a School clearly identified in its name as a Church of England Primary School can be mis-coded as a post-16 establishment?

TeachVac Global, (www.teachvacglobal.com) the companion site to TeachVac for vacancies in international schools, has also had a successful first year of operation, establishing its name across the globe.

Welcome -U- turn on EdTech

Readers with long memories, or at least those who were around in 2010, will recall the Tories famous bonfire of the QUANGOs. Michael Gove was an enthusiastic supporter of the movement, axing the GTCE and BECTA and starting the process that lead to the disappearance of the NCTL and all the good work it had undertaken in both leadership and initial teacher education. There were other less visible casualties of which some survived in the private sector whilst others disappeared.

Axing rather than reforming BECTA, the long-standing QUANGO (Quasi Autonomous Non-Government Organisation) on EdTech was a short-sighted move that has back fired on the government. As a result, I welcome today’s announcement that the government has once again recognised the importance of technology in education.

Throughout my career, this is an area I have championed, from the early use of video cameras to record both PE lessons for skills development and rehearsals of plays to improve the schools’ entry into one-act play festivals in the 1970s, through both my time at a teachers’ centre – sadly missed professional development hubs much more engaging that the teaching schools of today – to my time in a School of Education in the 1980s where student were required to create a tape-slide presentation for one of their assignments.

Even during my brief stay at the TTA in the 1990s, I helped commission the famous internet café stand at careers’ fairs that replaced the coffee table and a couple of armchairs plus a few posters that was the staple fare before then as the main means of selling teaching to graduates..

Sadly, as the whiteboard programme showed, there has often been a tendency to put the phone before the mast (to update the cart before the horse metaphor) when it came to new technology in education. How many boring presentations on OHPs in the old days and PowerPoint these days have you say through by educators that ought to know they needed a bit of training to make best use of the technology. Still, this was the profession that axed voice coaching as not academic enough for education degree courses, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of understanding of technology in teaching and learning by policy makers.

I would start with requiring all those that work with teachers in training to have a qualification in the use and development of education technology. As a geographer, I would have interactive earthquake and volcano sites open on a whiteboard in my classroom and challenge pupils to indicate anything unusual. Do that with Key Stage 2 pupils, and I guess many would soon know more about earthquakes and volcanoes than their teachers.

I think that Caroline Wright, Director General at the British Educational Suppliers Association summed my view up perfectly when she said:

I am delighted that the Department for Education’s plans place teacher training and support at the heart and soul of their future approach to EdTech and recognises that EdTech, when introduced as part of a whole school strategy, has the power to help improve pupil outcomes, save teacher time and reduce workload burdens.

As TeachVac has demonstrated in the field of teacher vacancies, technology can be very disruptive to existing orthodoxies, but that is not an excuse to do nothing and cling on to the past. –U- turns are never easy, but this one is both necessary and long overdue.