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.

Sluggish start for teaching vacancies in 2021

January 2020 was a bumper month for teacher vacancies. Trainees, returning teachers and those looking for promotion were spoilt for choice across most of England, as secondary schools started recruiting early for September 2020. Fast forward a year, and with different priorities on the minds of school leadership teams, the slump in vacancies that started when the pandemic struck last spring has continued into the first part of January 2021.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk the vacancy site for teachers, where I am Chair, has recorded a 50% reduction in vacancies during the first 15 days of January 2021 compared with the same period in January 2020. In some secondary subjects, such as English and history, the slump has been even larger in percentage terms; vacancies are more than 60% down on last year.

Over England as a whole, there 1,300 fewer vacancies recorded by TeachVac during the first 15 days of January this year than during the same period last year. Looking back beyond the record rate of 2020, the January 2021 number is also below the number of vacancies recorded by TeachVac in both January 2018 and 2019.

Will these jobs return? The answer is that some will, but some won’t. The suggestion in the press that London has lost 700,000 of its population over the past twelve months, as foreign workers have returned home,  may help to explain why vacancies in the capital for teachers have been especially hard hit over the past twelve months. At present, the Midlands, both East and West, are also regions where there has been an appreciable fall-off in vacancies compared with last year.

In a recession, public sector workers with a secure job tend to stay put, so fewer teachers leaving either to take the chance on a new career or to teach overseas. This lack of movement has the effect of reducing demand for replacements. School budgets are under pressure as a result of the pandemic, so that is another factor that will delay recruitment activities, although TeachVac and the DfE site don’t cost schools cash. The DfE site does cost time and effort not required of schools by TeachVac.

As has been said in the past, there is no point in spending cash on recruitment until you have tried the free option and it hasn’t worked. TeachVac has matched 120,000 vacancies over the past two years and even if half resulted in an appointment that could have saved school millions of pounds in recruitment advertising.

TeachVac is currently preparing its reviews of 2020, and that on the Leadership Labour Market should be published next week: watch this blog for details. The wider review of classroom vacancies will appear later in the month. Both would have been faster had the government’s KickStart Scheme worked. On the Isle of Wight we still haven’t been offered any candidates through the Scheme, despite signing up almost on day one of the scheme’s announcement.

In summary, this may well be another year where the labour market favour employers over job-seekers, so registering with job sites such as TeachVac sooner rather than later may make sense for those seeking a teaching or school leadership post.

Leadership trends in schools- 2020

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk the free to use teacher vacancy site is putting together its annual reviews of the labour market for teachers in England. The first of these is on leadership turnover in schools.

Here are some of the headlines from the draft report.

  • More leadership vacancies were recorded in the primary sector during 2020, while vacancies recorded in the secondary sector during 2020 remained at a similar level to 2019.
  • In the primary sector some 1,497 head teacher vacancies were recorded. The number for the secondary sector was 387 vacancies during 2020.
  • For schools advertising during the 2019-20 school year, there was a re-advertisement rate for primary schools of 28%: for secondary school headteacher vacancies, the re-advertisement rate was lower at 23%.
  • Schools in certain regions and with other characteristics that differentiates the school from the commonplace are more likely to experience issues with headteacher recruitment.
  • There were a similar number of vacancies for deputy heads in the secondary sector during 2020 than 2019. Fewer vacancies were recorded for the primary sector.
  • Secondary schools advertised slightly more assistant head teacher vacancies during 2020 than during 2019. There were fewer vacancies recorded in the primary sector during 2020 than in 2019. 
  • Tracking leadership vacancies has become more challenging as the means of recruitment have become more diversified in nature.
  • The covid-19 pandemic had a significant effect on the senior staff labour market from April 2020 until the end of the year.

What might be the outcome of the new lockdown? As the majority of vacancies at all levels in education are for September starts in a new job the later the more senior vacancies are advertised the more pressure on vacancies for other posts. Normally, half the annual volume of headteacher adverts appear in the first three months of the year. Will that pattern be replicated this year? Perhaps it is too early to tell. Will headteachers, and especially headteachers in primary schools faced with more problems than normal and lacking the level of administrative support that their secondary school colleagues enjoy just decide enough is enough and take early retirement? Will the pay freeze make matters worse, especially if pensions still rise in line with RPI?

TeachVac will be watching these trends for senior staff turnover, along with others in the labour market. Often in the past, a rising level of house prices has been bad for senior staff recruitment in high cost housing areas as staff can move to lower cost areas, but it is challenging for staff to move into those areas without incentives. The Stamp Duty relaxation has pushed up housing prices, at least in the short-term. Will these increases have an impact on leadership turnover?

The current age profile of the teaching profession should be favourable to the appointment of senior leaders but, as this blog has pointed out in the past, there may not be enough deputy heads in the primary sector with sufficient experience to want to move onto headship at the present time.

All these trends will need monitoring carefully as 2021 unfolds.

If you want the full report or data for specific areas, please contact enquiries@oxteachserv.com

Worth a second look

Some posts on this blog deserve a second look. With nearly 1,100 posts now on the site, I don’t have a complete list, so even I am surprised when a visitor digs up a post from over seven years ago that resonates as much today as it did when originally posted.

Many of those that visit the blog today weren’t even in education, at least on the teaching side of the desk or camera, in 2013, so when it reappeared as the result of someone’s trawl through the archives, I thought I would ensure it was worth a second look to a new group of readers.

Winds of change in Manchester

Posted on 

The last two days I have been in Manchester for the SSAT Annual Conference. This is a celebration of many of the good things in school leadership. The delegates here are anything but average in their approach to education. The conference started with Michael Fullan and Andy Hargreaves talking about their new book: Professional Capital. In this increasingly secular age, where many head teachers are probably agnostics, it was interesting to hear Andy Hargreaves take the example of the parable of the master that leaves his servants a sum of money to use wisely in his absence and finds that two have invested while the third had just kept the money safe by burying the cash in the ground. The message of invest for progress was an interesting one.

At the same conference I participated in a panel debate about preparing teachers, and led a workshop on professional development. The following ten phrases are the ones that provided me with a framework for discussion in the workshop.

Hire exceptional people: add value.

Seek heroines and heroes: not villains and scapegoats.

Dump portmanteau careers: welcome career changers

Look for leaders of every age.

Education is a business not a market.

Sell the brand

Engage the family

Cash balances don’t educate children.

Quality assurance before quality control.

know the facts: tell the truth.

I had a good example of the last one of these while I was composing this post. I received an email that a Minister had confirmed the over allocation of ITT places was 9% this year. The fact is true, but disguises the more important information that the over allocation was in the order of 18% for secondary places, but only 6% in the primary sector.

Many of the other statements can generate discussion and some have already been aired in posts on this site. Hopefully, the remained will feature at some time in the future.

Pay Freeze: more churn?

As expected, the main teacher associations acted with condemnation when faced with the Secretary of State’s remit letter to the STRB, the Pay and conditions of Service Review Body for the teaching profession.  In a joint statement from ACSL NAHT and NEU they said that;

The narrow remit issued to the STRB excludes the crucial and central issue of teacher and school leader pay, reflecting the Government’s unacceptable pay freeze policy.  Teachers and school leaders are key workers who have already seen their pay cut significantly since 2010.  With inflation expected to increase in 2021, they know that they face another significant real terms pay cut. 

How might their members react in 2021? We can expect a range of reactions. Some will say, there is no point in staying with no pay rise in sight – after all will the freeze really be just for one year? Head teachers at the top of their pay band, and having endured the prospect of two disrupted school years might well throw in the towel and take their pension as that presumably won’t be frozen in the same way; at least at present. We will look at that prospect and its consequences in more detail in a later blog.

Some teachers will seek promotion to secure a pay rise, and others a more appealing post either in a different school or in the private sector where there are no requirements for a pay freeze for teachers. Yet others may look overseas or to the tutoring market that will grow to support the increase in home schooling, especially if the government looks to regulation to ensure a minimum standard of education for all children regardless of how parents arrange to provide it. All these factors could increase ‘churn’.

With a profession dominated by women, at least at the level of the classroom teacher, how they and often also their partners view job security and new opportunities will also affect the rate of ‘churn’ if there is job movement around the country.

I actually think, at least in the first few months of 2021, there will be caution, and a desire to stay put and see what happens. With a labour market in teaching heavily skewed towards the first five months of the year, we could see fewer vacancies than normal in the early months of 2021. This will impact especially severely on two group of teachers: new entrants and would-be returners to the profession.

I well recall a Radio 5 Live interview in 2011, when callers were blaming each groups for taking jobs from the other. In reality, both groups were finding it more of a challenge to secure a teaching post, especially in some parts of England.

So, how hard will it be? We don’t know yet, so this is speculation based upon past trends, but I think some teachers will really struggle to secure a post in 2021.

Now might well be the time to revive ideas of a single application form for teaching, at least for personal details. This would leave just the free text statement to be written specifically for each vacancy being sought. The DfE should consider whether sponsoring that idea from those examples currently in development and on offer might be a better use of funds than continuing with their vacancy site that one person described to me in unflattering terms earlier this week.

In the next post, I will describe a new service from TeachVac to help teachers and schools assess the market and where vacancies might be found in 2021.  

STRB: good summary, not much new

Regular readers of this blog will find little to surprise them when they read the latest report from the STRB (School Teachers Review Body) https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-teachers-review-body-29th-report-2019 Much of the data has already been discussed on this blog when it first appeared. Nevertheless, it is good to see the information all in one place.

The key issues are nicely summed up by the STRB as follows:

This year the evidence shows that the teacher supply situation has continued to deteriorate, particularly for secondary schools. This has affected teachers at all stages of their careers:

  • The Government’s target for recruitment to postgraduate Initial Teacher Training (ITT) was missed in 2018/19 for the seventh successive year. There has also been a marked decline in the number of overseas teachers being awarded Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).
  • Retention rates for teachers in the early years of their careers have continued to worsen, a trend that we have noted for several years now.
  • There is also evidence that retention rates are starting to deteriorate for experienced teachers, and there has been a marked increase in the number of teachers aged over 50 leaving the profession.
  • Retention rates for head teachers have fallen in recent years and our consultees report that it is increasingly difficult to attract good quality applicants to fill leadership posts at all levels. We have heard similar concerns from some of those we spoke to during our school visit programme.

Taken together, these trends paint a worrying picture. This is all the more concerning as increasing pupil numbers mean that there will be a need for more teachers in coming years, particularly in the secondary phase and for English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects.

The last comment is one I would take issue with in relation to languages, history and geography, subjects where TeachVac data doesn’t reveal significant shortages and the DfE data published last week also doesn’t suggest a rising demand for MFL teachers.

I am also slightly surprised that more isn’t made of regional disparities in both demand for teachers and in terms of the data about recruitment and retention. Matching age and experience with regional trends might have been helpful in understanding the degree that the teacher supply crisis affects the whole country and not just London and the Home Counties.

More information on the primary sector, and some understanding of the special school and alternative education sectors would also have been helpful.

I fully agree that the Report should be published much earlier in the year. Why cannot the timetable revert to a publication date in either February or March?The comments on challenges in leadership recruitment aren’t really backed by good levels of evidence in the Report, and that’s a pity since at TeachVac we have seen fewer re-advertisements for primary headships in some places this year. I am sure that the NAHT and ASCL have this data available. Compared with say a decade ago, are there really fewer applicants for headships. This is an important measure of possible challenge going forward.

Finally, I wonder what happened on page 32 where there is a mention of Figure 7 that bears no relation to point under discussion. I think it should be a reference to Figure 5? Is this a proof-reading issue or does it reflect some re-writing of this section?

DfE backs free vacancy sites

The Secretary of State has provided a big push for the DfE’s vacancy site and other free job sites such as TeachVac https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-teacher-recruitment-service-set-to-save-schools-millions

It is always interesting to see a Conservative government trying to stifle legitimate competition by using its millions to drive TeachVac out of business www.teachvac.co.uk  However, the government won’t succeed. As the DfE notice acknowledges, only 38% of schools have signed up to the DfE service after nine months of testing. They only cite Cambridgeshire as an authority where all schools have signed up to their service.

As I have written before, the DfE would have saved money, something they urge schools to do, by either working with existing job boards or taking a feed from TeachVac at a much lower cost that designing their own service.

The DfE site has one flaw for teachers looking for posts in a particular area and not bothered whether they work in the private or public sectors: the DfE site only contains state funded schools. TeachVac contain details of vacancies in both sectors.

Will the DfE now instruct local authorities to abandon their own local job boards on the basis that this duplication of service is wasting taxpayer’s money? The DfE could provide a feed for all schools with vacancies in the local authority area, as TeachVac can do. If the DfE doesn’t do this, one must ask why not?

I assume that ASCL and NAHT along with the NGA will come out in support of the DfE’s site, something that haven’t felt able to do with TeachVac, despite it being free for schools and teachers.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

With every school in the country now having access to this completely free site, I am calling on schools to ditch platforms that charge a fee. Why spend £1,000 on a service you can get for free?

Why indeed, and why go to the trouble of placing your vacancy on the DfE web site when TeachVac will collect it from your own web site for free, saving schools even more time and money.

So, will this be bad news for the TES and its new American owners? Much will depend upon how much in the way of resources the DfE is prepared to put into creating a state run monopoly? The vacancy part of the acquisition and its income stream certainly looks more risky this morning than it did on Friday. Will it be worth the £195 million that they seem to have paid for it?

Had I not helped invent TeachVac nearly six years ago, I would no doubt be more enthusiastic about the DfE’s attempt to drive down costs for schools. For now, we shall see what happens, and how schools, MATs and local authorities respond to today’s announcement.

For the sake of interest, I have compiled a table showing the DfE’s vacancy numbers – including non-teaching posts – as a percentage of TeachVac’s numbers. However, TeachVac includes independent secondary schools, but the DfE site sometimes contains non-teaching posts..

04/01/2019 11.26
11/01/2019 13.22
18/01/2019 17.57
25/01/2019 17.69
01/02/2019 21.44
08/02/2019 22.72
15/02/2019 24.46
22/02/2019 11.71
01/03/2019 31.25
08/03/2019 25.11
15/03/2019 25.20
22/03/2019 25.10
29/03/2019 28.20
05/04/2019 29.10

 

Productivity gain or worsening working conditions?

Ahead of the ASCL Conference in Birmingham this weekend, there is a report in the press today about rising class sizes in secondary schools.

An analysis by teaching unions has suggested 62% of secondary schools have had to expand class sizes between 2014/15 and 2016/17. The study, conducted by the NEU, NAHT and ASCL – as well as non-teaching unions Unison, GMB and Unite – showed that of 150 local authorities, 83% saw a rise in average class sizes across their secondary schools, while 14% have seen a fall and 3% saw no change.

This report should come as no surprise to anyone connected with education. Indeed, I would predict that class sizes will continue to increase in size over the next few years as the secondary school population expands from its low point reached in 2014 and budgets also come under pressure.

However, there is an argument to be had about the usefulness of class sizes as a measure. They can be affected by factors such as the degree of non-contact time allowed to staff; policy over options at GCSE and for post-16 courses as well as space considerations.

An alternative measure is the Pupil Teacher Ratio. Even here there are now problems: how do you define a teacher. Do you only include those with QTS and exclude Teach First and School Direct trainees, as well as any other unqualified teachers or cover supervisors?

Anyway, I have included the changes in PTRs across different types of secondary schools since the School Workforce Census was introduced. The result confirms the findings from the unions and could have been researched without the need to waste valuable time in hard-pressed local authorities. As an added bonus, these are DfE approved numbers, so the government cannot quibble about them.

Changes in Pupil Teacher Ratios in secondary schools
2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
All State funded Secondary schools 14.9 14.9 15 15 15.3 15.6
Converter academies 15.2 15.8
Sponsored academies 13.6 15.3
All academies 14.8 15.6
UTCs/Studio Schools 12.9 13.8
Free Schools 12.6 15.3
LA maintained 15 14.9 14.8 14.9 15.1 15.4

The big change has come since 2015 and probably reflects the loss of extra funding academies received in the early days of the Gove period at the DfE. The effect the loss of that extra cash has had on the funding of these schools is now obvious: sadly, once becoming an academy there is normally no way back. For that reason, heads gathering in Birmingham might want to examine the value for money of back offices at MATs.Source DfE SFR 25/2017 Table 17a

After all, it was the heads that complained for decades about the dead hand of local authority expenditure. Having been released from the frying pan of Local Authority spending patterns they must not fall straight into the fire of MATs with high relative overheads.

There are many other issues that secondary heads will need to consider at their conference. Perhaps one of the most pressing is finding the teachers to fill these classes that now have more pupils in them. It may be a productivity gain, but it does impose a greater workload on teachers and may the class size and PTR changes partly explain the growing loss of teachers with 3-5 years’ experience previously discussed on this blog.

In passing, the head teachers might also want to reflect upon the changing nature of the teacher vacancy market that helps provide the teachers. With the TES group reporting a loss of 2016-17 and the DfE working on a new vacancy platform, how teachers are recruited could become an important area for discussion over the next few years.

As one of the instigators of TeachVac, the free platform for vacancies, I am, of course, not an idle by-stander in this debate.

Why is the DfE spending millions inventing a teacher vacancy service?

The DfE is asking for your views about its idea for a new on-line vacancy service for teachers. You can read about it in the DfE’s digital blog – is there any other type of bog? – and the link is https://dfedigital.blog.gov.uk/2017/11/15/how-were-creating-a-national-teacher-vacancy-service/ The blog post was written by Fiona Murray way back in November and could do with a refresh, especially now the Public Accounts Committee has effectively sanctioned the DfE spending the money to develop the service beyond the idea of just a concept to test. The suggestion was in the Tory Manifesto for the general election last year.

As regular readers know, I have a personal and professional interest in the labour market for teachers. Personal, as the unpaid chair of TeachVac, and professional as someone that has studied aspects of the labour market for teachers for nearly 30 years.

If you are a user of TeachVac, the free to schools and teachers vacancy service covering the whole of England that has been operating for the past four years, you might want to use the comment section of the DfE blog to explain your experiences with TeachVac. If you aren’t a user of TeachVac, then register for free on TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk and then read the DfE’s blog and see whether what they are suggesting is worthwhile compared with what already exists.

I don’t know whether or not the DfE will include independent schools in their service as TeachVac does. According to the DfE blog one school leader told the DfE:

 “If I’m being honest, I’d be quite happy with a basic website, that’s as basic as the most basic website I could remember, that was free, where all of the vacancies were. And that’s not very ambitious, but believe me, school leaders will think that’s a miracle.”

Clearly, that person hadn’t seen the TeachVac site. So, if you are like them, do pay TeachVac a visit and don’t forget to tell others. Then head over the DfE blog and leave them a comment as requested.

What will the other providers of platforms used to advertise vacancies think of the government’s move into a new attempt at a vacancy service? Clearly, those that charge for recruitment stand to be affected in a different manner to TeachVac that is a free service.

What will be interesting to discover will be the attitude of groups such as the teacher associations; NASBM; governors; BESA and bodies such as REC that represents many recruiters? There might also be implications for local authorities that operate an extensive system of job boards across the country and play and important part in the recruitment landscape for the primary school sector. All these groups should really evaluate the DfE’s offerings against the present marketplace and identify the solution that offers the best value for money for schools. After all, a Conservative government surely cannot be opposed to the free market offering the best solution.

There is also a risk that the DfE’s latest attempt to enter the vacancy market for teachers ends up as the School Recruitment Service, their previous foray into the market, did nearly a decade ago. What the DfE must not do is unintentionally destabilise the market and then withdraw. Such an outcome would be disastrous for schools and teachers.

 

 

 

 

Are small schools doomed?

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) clearly worries that they will be. They have raised their concerns and the story was picked up by the BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-37860682 although I couldn’t find any press release on the ASCL web site that prompted the BBC story. Perhaps it is part of a campaign by teacher associations about the funding of schools?

As regular readers of this blog know, I have expressed concerns before about the future of small schools, especially if the block grant that underpins their finances is removed, possibly as part of a funding formula based on an amount per pupil. Such a funding system, perhaps topped up by sum for deprivation in a similar manner to the present Pupil Premium, has a beguiling simplicity about it; easy to understand and easy to administer: job well done.

However, such a top-down approach does have other ramifications. The most obvious is that for as long as anyone living has been in teaching higher salaries have been paid to teachers in London and the surrounding area. This is a policy decision that could be ratified in a new formula through an area cost adjustment as Mr Gibb said during his recent visit to the Select Committee when he appeared to talk about teacher supply. So, if a policy to support London, but not other high cost areas is acceptable, what about rural schools? As I mentioned in a recent post, on the 3rd October, some shire counties have a large number of small schools in their villages. Northumberland has some of the most expensive. Oxfordshire has a third of its primary schools with fewer than 150 pupils and the removal of any block grant would undoubtedly mean their closure, as ASCL pointed out.

Does a Tory government that has already upset some of its supporters in the shires over re-introducing selection to secondary education now want to risk their wrath over shutting the bulk of the 5,000 or so rural primary schools, not to mention small schools in urban areas? As many of the latter are faith schools this might also upset both the Church of England and the Roman Catholic churches, especially if pupils were transferred to non-faith based schools.

Councils might also be upset if the cost of transporting pupils to the new larger and financially viable primary schools fell on their council tax payers. After all, as I have pointed out in the past, children in London receive free transport to schools anywhere in the capital within the TfL area; this despite London being classified as a high cost area in which to live.

There is a possible solution, return to local funding models where communities can decide whether to keep small school open. Of course, it won’t be decided democratically through the ballot box, since local authorities still are regarded as not being capable of this sort of decision, even when run by Tory councillors. But, a grouping of academies in a Multi-Academy Trust could take such a decision or they could assume government policy on school size was reflected in the funding formula and close schools that cannot pay their way.

If you believe in the need for small schools linked to their community, now is the time to say so. To await any consultation on a funding formula may be to wait too long.