Reviewing Ofsted

The National Audit Office Report issued today about the work of Ofsted seems to have received coverage that is slightly unfair to Ofsted. But, as an inspection body, it is an organisation it is easy to regard with distaste or even hate. https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Ofsteds-inspection-of-schools.pdf

Interestingly, in January this year I asked a question at Oxfordshire Cabinet about schools not inspected since 2010.

Could the Cabinet Member please identify those primary schools that have not had an Ofsted inspection since 2010 with the year they were last inspected and whether they are maintained schools or academies – if an academy, which MAT they currently are associated with of if they are a standalone academy.”

Most not inspected were outstanding schools, but two schools had only been rated ‘good’ in their last inspection report. There was confusion among officers when complying the reply to my question, because Ofsted lists on their web site the letter that goes to schools on conversion to an academy and, in some circumstances, this might look as if Ofsted had inspected the school when in practice it hadn’t.

I think the NAO’s overall judgement of Ofsted is fair.

24 Ofsted provides valuable independent assurance about schools’ effectiveness and as such is a vital part of the school system. It has faced significant challenges in recent years, as its budget has reduced and it has struggled to retain staff and deploy enough contracted inspectors…..

25 The Department plays an important part in whether the inspection of schools is value for money. The Department affects Ofsted’s funding, how it uses its resources and what it can inspect. The current inspection model, with some schools exempt from re-inspection, others subject to light-touch inspection and the average time between inspections rising, raises questions about whether there is enough independent assurance about schools’ effectiveness to meet the needs of parents, taxpayers and the Department itself. Although government has protected the overall schools budget, it has reduced Ofsted’s budget every year for over a decade while asking it to do more.

NAO Report, May 2018 page 11

As the DfE now realises, and the NAO acknowledges, the complex governance nature of the education system in England does not effectively work in favour of helping school improvement. The removal of funding for local authority inspection and advisory services across much of the country, in the lemming like desire to push all funds to schools, didn’t help with intelligence gathering and the lack of action at regional school commissioner level also hasn’t helped.

How do you improve an academy declared inadequate by Ofsted and with the worst attendance record of all secondary schools in the county for the autumn term after it declared inadequate if the regional school commissioner won’t take action and the diocese responsible for the MAT of which the school is part has failed to improve the school? Would a former municipal Education Committee have allowed this state of affairs to linger on without resolution?

What can Ofsted do, other than continue to report while children’s education suffers? This is surely a much more important question than why 0.2% of the target for inspections was missed over a five year period.

The most important conclusion of the NAO Report is ‘that Ofsted does not know whether its school inspections are having the intended impact: to raise the standards of education and improve the quality of children’s and young people’s lives.’ (Paragraph 20 of the summary). The government must make clear how that gap can be closed, and provide the funds to ensure that improvement is supported effectively progress monitored and any failure to improve has consequences. Such a system should include a key role for democratically elected local authorities.

 

Advertisements

More about school funding

How much more should London schools be paid under the new National Funding Formula to compensate for the higher salaries teachers working in the Capital are paid? Interestingly, that issue didn’t appear to have surfaced during last week debate in the House of Commons on a Labour motion about school funding and the new National Funding Formula. https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-04-25/debates/0A24031C-1B47-47DA-9682-5ED62B7AB09C/SchoolFunding

The salary differential is greatest for new teachers and smallest, at least in percentage terms, for the highest paid head teachers – CEOs of Academy Trusts don’t have a pay scale – although in cash terms the difference greatest for senior middle leaders at the top of their scale.

Sep-17 Rest of England Inner London % diff
Bottom Main Scale  £          22,917  £          28,660 20%
Top Main Scale  £          38,633  £          47,298 18%
TMS + TLR top  £          51,660  £          60,325 14%
L1  £          39,374  £          46,814 16%
l20  £          62,863  £          70,310 11%
L43  £        109,366  £        116,738 6%

Assuming schools spend around 60% of their funds on staff with QTS, plus another significant amount on non-teaching staff, where I assume the differential across the country isn’t significantly different, then how much more should a school in challenging circumstances in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets receive compared with a similar school in South East Oxford? If the differential is significantly more than 20% then one might ask how the different components within the NFF are derived. The additional of floors and ceilings only serve to make matters worse.

The DfE data published in the autumn of 2017 https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-funding-formula-tables-for-schools-and-high-needs indicates a much greater than 20% difference between those local authorities with the smallest allocations and the London Boroughs with the largest amounts.

In terms of consequences, there is the issue of funding for small schools that this blog has highlighted before, but also the issue of how much extra schools in pockets of severe deprivation receive within local authorities that are generally regarded as affluent. The issue of the f40 group of authorities and the share of the national cake they receive was aired during the House of Commons debate, but not by any of the six MPs representing Oxfordshire constituencies. As there wasn’t a formal division, we don’t know whether they even attended the debate.

Yesterday, the Oxford Mail has a key article about funding for schools in the county, highlighting the concerns that funds are not sufficient. http://www.oxfordmail.co.uk/news/16192951.SCHOOL_FUNDING__Oxfordshire_parents_battle_for_more_classroom_cash/

Much of Oxfordshire has local elections this Thursday, but I don’t sense that school funding is a big issue on the doorsteps, unlike potholes that seem to be the number one concern in many areas.

However, I am concerned that not enough forward planning is currently being undertaken by either Schools Forum or others to identify the position if current NFF trends continue for the next five How far can schools sustain different changes in pay rates for staff and not fall into deficit? There needs to be a debate about the consequences of the new approach to funding, not just in the short-term, but over the longer time period as well.

 

 

 

As expected: a bumper week for teaching posts

Well, as I expected, this week is shaping up to be the week with the largest number of vacancies for teachers and school leaders so far in 2018. TeachVac, www.teachvac.co.uk the free National Vacancy Service already operating across the whole of England, has looked at more 4,000 vacancies this week. This included repeat advertisements, re-advertisements and new vacancies.

We had expected this level of activity this week for the reasons Laura McInerney listed in her recent article in Schools Week https://schoolsweek.co.uk/fixing-the-madness-of-the-teacher-transfer-window/ She might have added the issue of school budgets and when schools are told how much cash they will have to spend in the next year or can estimate the direction of travel on the basis of pupil numbers. Secondary schools across much of the country are now looking at rising intakes and can plan forward on that basis for several years to come. On the other hand, primary schools, in many parts of the country are seeing reduced intakes, with the inevitable effect of reducing their income for the next few years, unless mergers and closures lead to some realignment of schools in the sector. Regular readers will know of my concerns for the future of small, and especially small rural, primary schools.

Anyway, the consequences of our funding model for schools when pupil numbers go up and down is an issue for another day. This week, we can discuss the consequences for schools that need to start searching for staff later in the recruitment cycle. TeachVac has been tracking the relationship between new entrants from teacher preparation courses and the demand for teachers from schools across four recruitment cycles, so we have a good idea of what the consequences of the under-performance into teacher preparation courses last September will mean for schools.

Earlier this month, on behalf of TeachVac, I provided both the DfE and ASCL with evidence from the TeachVac data that clearly identifies those subjects where the 2018 recruitment round is already showing signs of putting schools seeking to make appointments under strain. Until the DfE launches its own vacancy service across the country, it generally has no data of its own about the current recruitment round and must rely upon third party information.

Thirty years ago, I identified the government’s reliance on statistics – which they are generally good at collecting, although not perfect – with their lack of knowledge about management information on the day to day and up to the minute position in the teacher labour market. When central government didn’t manage schools such a lack was unhelpful, but not critical. Now with academies, free schools and the like, not knowing what is happening is a major failure.

TeachVac also supplies schools and those preparing teachers with up to the minute data on their local area, for use either when Ofsted comes calling and asks about the local labour market or when bids for teacher training places need to be justified on the basis of local needs.

Here is just one example of how policy may be affecting the labour market. TeachVac has recorded more vacancies this year in mathematics than in any of the last three years: is the spending on CPD for those already in post not working or is this a consequence of increasing pupil numbers or even changes in retention rates?

The responsibility of us all

The following item was reported in several newspapers earlier this week, including The Daily Telegraph https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/04/11/child-stabbings-rise-63pc-amid-disturbing-trend-younger-knife/

NHS data shows a 63% increase over five years in the number of children aged 16 and under who have been treated for stab wounds in England. The largest increase (85%) between 2011/12 and 2016/17 was among 15-year-olds. The overall rise in the number of stabbings across England during the same period was 14%.

Now there may not be a correlation, but 15-year olds, and 15-year old young men in particular, have the highest rate of exclusions from our schools. After falling for many years, exclusions are also on the rise across much of England.

As those that know my life history will understand these two sets of statistics and particularly the one about knife crime have an especial resonance with me, as it was a teenager that stabbed me over 40 years ago in a rare act of serious and unprovoked violence that just happened to take place in a classroom in front of a group of children. As a result, knife crime has always been of special concern to me. I do view the recent upturn as a worrying trend.

Oxfordshire’s Cabinet will be discussing the County’s Education Scrutiny Committee report on exclusions in the county at their meeting next Tuesday. You can read the report in the Cabinet papers for 17th April 2018 at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk at item 6. I always hope that young people engaged fully in education will be less likely to commit these acts of knife crime.

I am also sure that cutbacks in both the Youth Service budget and that of the Youth Offending Teams across the county, along with revisions to Probation, probably haven’t helped in the prevention of such crimes. As ever, cutbacks have consequences further down the line when the money is being well spent.

In this case, changes in the nature of the curriculum probably may also have played a part since practical subjects have also too often been replaced with additional classroom time that can make life more challenging for many teachers working with pupils that don’t appreciate their efforts.

I believe there needs to be a concerted effort on the part of all responsible to once again recognise the need for behaviour management and to do everything to research and investigate the causes of exclusions in their school. Generally, persistent disruptive behaviour is given as the reasons for the largest number of exclusions. Working out how to reduce these exclusions should help allow resources to then be focused on dealing with other reasons why pupils are excluded.

It doesn’t matter whether schools are maintained, voluntary added, academies or free schools, they all have a responsibility to tackle this problem of school children carrying and using knives. Teaching Schools, National Leaders of Education and of Governance and those responsible for both training new entrants into the profession as well as designing continuing professional development will also need to ensure that they continue to make behaviour management strategies a high priority.

 

Leadership trends for schools across England: A DfE Report

The DfE has today published an important new piece of research about the school workforce, concentrating mainly on observations about Leadership roles. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-leadership-2010-to-2016-characteristics-and-trends

As a purist, I cannot get my head around the use of headteacher rather than head teacher but, apart from that grumble, there is much to welcome in this study. In my ways it fills in the gaps since the end of my annual reports for the NAHT (nd from time to time ASCL as well) that appeared between the late 1990s and 2012.

As these are no longer available to open view on the NAHT web site, I have reproduced the key issues from the 18th Report, and last in the series, at the end of this blog. This is because the DfE report, authoritative as it is, doesn’t then move to discuss in detail some of the potential policy implications arising from their findings. To provide one such example. If it takes a teacher potentially 16 years to become a secondary head teacher, then what are the implications for promotion possibilities for mature entrants with career experience outside of teaching? A use of the Sankey diagrams by age group of entrants to the profession might help answer this question.

The DfE Report also compliments TeachVac’s analysis of leadership vacancies during 2017 in the primary sector across England issued this January, and still available on request from enquiries@oxteachserv.com

The DfE Report comments that teachers with a senior leadership role (headteacher, deputy or assistant headteacher) form a small proportion of the overall teaching population, smaller in secondary (10.8%) than primary (18.5%) schools, which has grown since 2010 (up from 9.7% and 18.1% respectively). This growth was mainly in assistant heads, which have increased from 3.5% to 5.2% of teachers in primary schools and 5.6% to 6.5% in secondary schools between 2010 and 2016.

However, there are a greater percentage of classroom teachers in primary schools than secondary schools. This means fewer teacher in the primary sector have posts with salary additions due to additional responsibilities than in the secondary sector. This is the result of the subject related nature of teaching in secondary schools since the development of the comprehensive school model in the 1960s and 1970s replaced the class teacher model previously used in the secondary modern schools, and the elementary school sector before the 1944 Education Act. Such a divergence of staffing models is still reflected today in the formation of principles behind the DfE’s Common Funding Formula.

Those with an interest in school leadership will find both the report and the accompanying tables repay detailed study. I look forward to reading updates over the next few years. However, they will need to bear in mind the important change in the secondary sector during the period of the DfE’s analysis in relation to the creation of academies and the implications for issues such as the retention of school leaders.

Extract from: The Staete of the Leadership Market for Senior Staff in Schools 2011/12

18th Report issues – September 2012

By Prof John Howson & Dr Almut Sprigade

Each year this survey provides a dynamic picture of the state of the labour market for senior staff appointments on the Leadership Scale in publically funded schools. It complements the picture provided by the School Workforce Survey that allows an understanding of the state of the labour market for a particular date in November.

The most important questions that this survey addresses are; what are the trends in the demand for senior staff, and is the market able to meet them, both now and in the foreseeable future? Of course, even within the three different grades of head, deputy and assistant head associated with the Leadership Scale there are many different sub-markets associated with geography, type of school, phase of education and source of public funding.

The school sector is undergoing a period of significant change, especially in its governance, and such moves may affect the labour market, especially during any period when existing schools seek to change their status. This may, for example, have affected the number of deputy and assistant head posts advertised by secondary schools during the period when they converted to academy status. It is difficult to see why otherwise during a period of declining pupil numbers there should have been an increase in deputy head vacancies.

The key issue during recent years has been the effect of retirements on the labour market. Once again, this year, retirements have been the dominant reason for headship vacancies and a significant reason in the vacancies for both deputy and assistant headships. However, it seems likely that the peak year for retirements has now been passed, and that whilst remaining at a high level they may decline over the next few years. This assumption is based on the continuation of an orderly market with no sudden upturn, perhaps due to an unpredicted change in pay, pension or conditions of service.

According to the School Workforce Survey conducted in 2011 (DfE, 2012) there were just fewer than 4,000 primary heads in the 55-59 age group, along with 878 secondary heads, and 299 special school heads, making a total of around 5,200 head teacher likely to retire within the next five years. Assuming there is an equal distribution across the age range that equates to around 1,040 departures each year for each of the next five years. To this figure must be added a number of early retirements, say around a third of turnover if the figures in this report can be grossed up for the market as a whole. That would add somewhere around 900 departures to the total, providing for around 2,000 of the total of 2,678 recorded advertisements this year. This would represent some 75% of current turnover compared with just less than 70% recorded in this survey in the current year. However, if any of those in the ‘other category’ were actually retirements, then the difference might be smaller. On a worst case scenario of high early retirement plus expected levels of age-related retirement the turnover of head teachers might be expected to be around the level seen in 2010-11. Now that the abolition of the mandatory NPQH has widened the pool of eligible candidates, the question is whether the supply side can provide enough candidates considered as suitably qualified by governing bodies and whether there is sufficient appetite for the role from those candidates?

The evidence of application levels from this survey suggests that in schools that are neither at the extremes of the pupil number ranges nor associated with certain other characteristics, such as being a Roman Catholic school, the demand for the post of head teacher is sufficient to ensure most schools that advertise at the appropriate time will be able to make an appointment. However, the supply for certain more specialist segments of the market may be less secure. The fate of Roman Catholic schools, where recruitment has been an issue for most of the past two decades, shows that schools do eventually make an appointment. Evidence of how they perform during any interregnum and whether the appointment of a temporary head teacher can affect short-term performance might be worth investigating further.

It may, of course, be that the current wage freeze on teachers’ pay is spurring interest in leadership posts since promotion offers one way for a teacher to increase their salary when there are no cost of living increases. However, if that is the case with relation to applicants, it does not seem to have been the case with appointments, where a minimum period of service appears to be seen as relevant to an appointment as it ever was; more than five years’ service being required for an assistant headship; 10-15 years for a deputy headship; and more than 15 years for a headship. The age at which mature entrants to the profession reach this length of service may affect their chances of promotion, especially if they do not reach 15 years of service before the age of 45.

Although the number of returns from schools in the London area was below average there was some evidence that these schools were finding some difficulty in filling leadership posts, and especially for the more junior or more specialised vacancies.

The increase in advertised deputy posts in the secondary sector should mean that the supply of deputies will remain adequate even if vacancies for headships remain above the longer-term average. However, there were little more than 1,200 primary deputy posts advertised during 2011-12 compared with just over 2,000 headship advertisements. As 40% of headship appointments went to deputy head teachers, this suggests a demand for around 800 deputy head moving into headship each year or three quarters of new deputy head appointments. The position is further complicated by the fact that most appointments are probably from candidates who do not relocate when taking up a headship. This means that there needs to be a sufficient spread of candidates across the country.

The percentage of women being appointed to headships in the secondary sector does not yet reflect the percentage of female teachers working in secondary schools, and it would be helpful to establish whether or not women have the same success rate at interview as their male counterparts. A similar exercise for ethnic minority candidates might also be useful, especially now that the benchmark of the NPQH has been removed.

As has already been mentioned, Roman Catholic schools continue to find appointments more challenging than do other schools, with fewer applicants and smaller shortlists. Neither is per se a bad thing, but if they result in more unfilled vacancies then the process for schools is both more expensive and time consuming, and potentially unsettling.

There have always been fewer problems recruiting deputy and assistant head teachers than in recruiting head teachers and, generally, that has been the picture again this year although some primary schools appeared to have found difficulty in appointing an assistant head, and this may need further investigation as to the type and location of schools facing problems.

Overall, 2011-12 was another year in which the demands of the labour market were generally able to be satisfied by the supply of candidates putting themselves forward to fill the vacancies on offer. However, it is worth noting that a small number of schools that failed to appoint after a first advertisement continued to face problems when re-advertising their vacancies. If they are located in areas where support for the middle tier is now weak it is not clear what help would be available to them. As more schools become academies this may become more of an issue until a governance structure is worked out for schools.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is London leading the teacher job market in 2018?

Will the STRB have to take a long hard look at where teachers are needed when deciding how to make the pay award this year? I ask this question because TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk, the free to use recruitment site that matches vacancies for teachers with applicants, where I am the Chair, can reveal the importance of London in the teacher job market during the first quarter of 2018.

According to DfE statistics, in January 2017, London schools taught some 16% of the nation’s children educated in state-funded schools. The assumption might be that these schools might require a similar proportion of the nation’s teachers.

There are several challenges to this assumption. Firstly, more teachers may be required because pupil rolls are rising faster in London that elsewhere in the country, especially in the secondary sector. Secondly, London, as a region, educates more children in independent schools than other regions. While London accounts for some 16% of children in state-funded schools, it accounts for 26% of those educated privately in recognised independent schools. As such schools generally have smaller classes and larger numbers of post-16 pupils than many comprehensive schools, their presence will probably increase the demand for teachers needed to work in London. TeachVac handles vacancies from both state and private schools. Thirdly, teachers in London may be more prone to either move around or move out of teaching: including going to teach overseas.

So what did TeachVac find during the first quarter of 2018?

Recorded main scale vacancies placed by secondary schools January – end of March 2018

London England % Vacancies in London
Business 110 355 31%
Music 68 244 28%
RE 75 301 25%
Social Sciences 55 227 24%
Geography 142 595 24%
PE 87 382 23%
Science 500 2229 22%
History 92 412 22%
IT 75 358 21%
Languages 195 936 21%
Art 54 278 19%
Total 2379 12423 19%
Mathematics 318 1813 18%
English 274 1566 17%
Design & Technology 62 454 14%
Humanities 16 129 12%

Source TeachVac.co.uk

As far as the levels of vacancies for main scale teaching posts in the secondary sector are concerned, London schools seem to be advertising more vacancies than might be expected, even allowing for the higher than average number of pupils in private sector schools.

The most interesting feature of the table is how it is the smaller subjects where the relative demand is highest in London. In English and mathematics, London’s share of the national vacancy total is possibly even below what might be expected, given the percentage of pupils in the private sector. I think this may be explained by the significant presence of Teach First in London schools and the importance of both these subjects to the Teach First programme. On the other hand, the subjects at the top of the table mostly do not feature so prominently in the Teach First programme: perhaps they should.

April is the key month for recruitment at this grade, and TeachVac has already experienced a bumper start to the post-Easter period, even though many schools are officially on holiday. TeachVac can link every vacancy on its site to a job posted by a school. The TeachVac site contains no vacancies from agencies or other sources, a factor, as the Migration Advisory Committee found some years ago, resulting in an inflation of the figures to a point where they can become almost meaningless. As a ‘closed site’ that only sends jobs to registered applicants TeachVac also cannot be browsed by those wanting to extract a finder fee from schools.

Finally, it seems as if the DfE may launch a trial of their own service later this month. do test TeachVac at the same time and with the same parameters and let me know how TeachVac measures up to the DfE’s millions of pounds of expenditure on the project?

 

 

Daft, illogical or just plain stupid?

The DfE’s recently published revised statutory guidance for the Induction of NQTs is dated April 2018. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/induction-for-newly-qualified-teachers-nqts The DfE website shows the Guidance as having been updated on the 1st April. Now, were this Guidance published anywhere else but on the DE’s own website, one might assume it was an elaborate April Fool’ day joke. But, one must presume that some hapless official was charged with uploading these changes on the day that the Teaching Regulation Agency (presumably TRA for short) replaced the now departed National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL). Whether the TRA will follow in the footsteps of the RAF and have an illustrious history lasting more than 100 years is probably not even a matter for debate. If it lasts 100 months it might be said to have done well.

This Guidance is another example of a ‘fine mess’ our school system in England has become. To quote from the document:

All qualified teachers who are employed in a relevant school in England must, by law, have completed an induction period satisfactorily, subject to specified exemptions (see Annex B).

The list of relevant schools includes a maintained school; a non-maintained special school; a maintained nursery school; a nursery school that forms part of a maintained school; a local authority maintained children’s centre; and a pupil referral unit (PRU).

Keen eyed readers will notice that missing from this list of ‘relevant schools’ where Induction is mandatory are independent school in England; academies; free schools; 16–19 academies; alternative provision academies; and city technology colleges. Induction can be served in these institutions, even in some cases independent schools, but it isn’t a requirement, as it is for NQTs working in ‘relevant schools’ as listed in the appropriate paragraph of the Guidance.

Schools in special measure – no mention of the term inadequate here- generally, even if a relevant school, cannot employ NQTs or offer Induction unless HMI have granted permission. But, that is what you might expect.

Interestingly, a teaching school that is an accredited ITT provider cannot be the appropriate body for an NQT for whom it recommended that the award of QTS should be made. However, the ban doesn’t seem to extend to other schools in the same academy chain.

So two schools next to each other. Both state-funded and employing new entrants into the profession can have very different rules governing the Induction Period of that NQT. Is that satisfactory? Should the DfE now accept that regardless of the historical nature of a school’s governance, if it is state-funded the same rules should apply to the Induction of new entrants to the profession?

Although fewer Children’s Centres now exist than was the case a few years ago, I do wonder whether they are suitable places to serve an Induction Year.  One requirement is that the Induction Year involve(s) the NQT regularly teaching the same class(es). Can this really happen in a Children’s Centre?

Perhaps the next revision might be based upon recognising the common needs of NQTs regardless of the type of school where they start their teaching careers. But, perhaps, there will finally be a wholesale review of this part of a teacher’s career following the recent consultation exercise on Strengthening Qualified Teacher Status and career progression and perhaps, the term ‘Teacher’ might finally become a reserved occupation title, only usable by those appropriately qualified and with QTS: we can but hope.