Who wants to be a teacher: changes over time

As we approach the end of the current recruitment round for entry to postgraduate teacher preparation courses, I thought it might be worth looking back at some of the data on the gender of applicants that I have collected over the years.

In 1996, I wrote an article for the then NUT journal, Education Review, in its special number on re-asserting equal opportunities. This coincided with celebration for the 125 years of the NUT. For anyone with access to a library, it was Volume 10 Issue Number 1 of Summer 1996.

It is interesting to see the data about the gender of applicants to postgraduate courses. In 1983, men made up 43% of applicants to PGCE courses. By 1986, the figure had fallen to 36% ,and was also at that level in 1996. By 2018, the UCAS end of year data shows that male applicants accounted for 32% of applicants. This August, in the most recent monthly data available, men accounted for 31% of applicants. By the end of the round it seems likely that the percentage will be similar to that of last year, since men have more of a tendency, at least in many years, to apply towards the end of the recruitment round than do women.

As men have formed a smaller proportion of the applicant pool, so their chance of being offered a place has increased. In 1989, 53% of male applicants were offered a place. By 2018, this had increased to some 62% of male applicants and by August this year the figure for the current recruitment round was standing at 66%. This percentage may drop by the final analysis of the recruitment round as it might include a small proportion of applicants holding or having been ‘offered’ a place by more than one course provider. Still, it shows an interesting trend.

In the days when I wrote the 1996 article, there was considerable data in the public domain about both the ethnicity of applicants and their ages, as well as their gender. Sadly, little is now in the public domain about ethnicity, so we don’t know if some ethnic groups are still being rejected in greater numbers than those from other groups?

We do still know about the age profile of applicants. It is interesting to look at the age profile of applicants in 1993, and the age profile of those applying 25 years later in the 2018 round. (The 1993 data are for England and Wales and the 2018 are for England alone.)

1993                       2018

Under 22             9598                       8060

23-24                     7396                       5510

25-29                     9387                       6050

30-39                     5778                       4640

40+                         2929                       3660

It would appear that teaching still holds attractions as a career for those straight from university, and also those older career switchers in the second half of their working lives. But, teaching seems less attractive to those in their mid to late-20s, now settled into working life. Of course, picking a different year to 1993 might have produced a different result, but this data does provide some food for thought.

 

Are marginal trainee teachers more likely to fail?

The latest ITT performance profiles were published this morning by the DfE. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2017-to-2018 These include data for individual providers as well as general figures for the whole undergraduate and postgraduate cohorts gaining QTS in 2017/18 – last summer’s output of new teachers.

Generally, the picture isn’t much changed from the previous year. Headline percentage gaining QTS for the postgraduate cohort remained at 91%, with happily some 734 more trainees that gained QTS for a total of 25,490, up from 24,764 the previous year. Sadly, these were not always in the subjects where there was the most needed.

The total of those on undergraduate courses continued to fall; down by nearly 300 to just 4,733 gaining QTS. The new Secretary of State might care to reflect that the 30,000 new teachers last summer isn’t far short of the whole establishment of the Royal Navy he was responsible for as Defence Secretary. Imagine if ITT had the same revenue budget as the Royal Navy to train teachers. Hopefully, some of the new cash promised by Boris will come in the direction of both teacher preparation and CPD.

It is interesting that Physics, where recruitment onto teacher preparation courses has been challenging for a number of years, is bottom of the list of secondary subjects in terms of trainees awarded QTS. Some of this may be down to early departure from the course, and clearly some did not complete the course to QTS in time, with some 5% ‘yet to complete’ when the numbers were compiled.

Physical Education, a non-bursary subject, and one where demand for places exceed supply, turned in a percentage of 97% of trainees being awarded QTS. However, not all bursary subjects with few recruitment challenges managed to turn out such a high level of trainees with QTS. History and English both only managed to see 95% and 93% respectively of their trainees awarded QTS.

The groups with lower than hoped for percentages being awarded QTS against the overall postgraduate average of 91% included men (88%); those from an ethnic minority background (88%) – although 13% did not declare on this measure and that may have affected the outcome. Those with a declared disability and with lower academic performance as measured by degree class were also groups with lower than average percentages gaining QTS as were older trainees that were switching careers. The highest identified percentage (94%) was for those with First Class degrees

The saddest statistic is the number of trainees gaining QTS in design and technology:

2009/10                1159

2010/11                1118

2011/12                  808

2012/13                  500

2013/14                  383

2014/15                  433

2015/16                  493

2016/17                  399

2017/18                  288

This is not enough to provide for future middle leaders in the subject, let alone to staff the subject effectively. This is something else for the new team in Sanctuary Building to discuss.

I hope in future posts to discuss the differences between the different postgraduate routes. However, they can be small and accounted for in terms of attitudes to recruiting groups that achieve lower rates of QTS.

4: the smallest recorded national pupil statistic in Education?

You don’t often find numbers below 10 in DfE statistics, as there is usually too much of a risk that individual pupils could be identified. However, such small numbers can and do crop up from time to time. One such is in table 5 of this year’s statistics about schools and their pupils. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/schools-pupils-and-their-characteristics-january-2019

The largest number in this Table is 4,716,244 – the number of pupils in state-funded primary schools counted in the January 2019 census. The smallest number is just four (4). This is the number of pupils of the Chinese ethnic group recorded as in Pupil Referral Units. In 2018, the number was five (5).

Apart from in Local Authority Alternative Provision, the percentage of minority Ethnic Pupils is greater in 2019 than it was in 2018. The increase was less in the primary sector, up from 33.1 to 33.5 than in the secondary sector, up from 30.3 to 31.3.

Interestingly, the ‘Black’ group as a whole registered no change in their share of the primary school population; steady at 5.5%, whereas the Asian Group that are mostly from the Indian sub-continent increased from 11.1% to 11.2%. Pupils of any other White background other than White British; Irish and the traveller and the Roma communities, increased from 7.1% to 7.3% making them the second largest sub-group in the primary sector.

With the downturn in admissions at the entry level of the primary school, it is interesting to ask whether birth rates are falling across all ethnic groups. Certainly, the difference in the total percentage of pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds between the primary and secondary sectors that was 2.8 in 2018, is now 2.2 in 2019.

Pupils from the Black ethnic group continue to be over-represented in both special schools and pupil referral units, although not in local authority alternative provision. However, the percentage of Back pupils in PRUs fell from 7.2% of pupils in such units in 2018, to 6.8% in 2019, against a percentage of 6.0% in the secondary sector from where most, but not all, PRU pupils have come from.

In numerical terms, the number of Black pupils in PRUs declined from 1,205 in 2018 to 1,104 in 2019. However, some might now be in alternative provision settings rather than in PRUs. Of course, there is no information about the scale of the off-rolling of pupils over the past year, and thus the ethnic backgrounds of pupils that have been taken off school rolls.

I suspect that the ethnic group labelled as ‘Mixed’ may well see the largest increases over the next few years as society becomes more diverse in nature. There are now around half a million pupil classified as from the ‘Mixed’ ethnic group in schools across England.

Almost one in five pupils in primary schools does not have English as their first language, although the total doesn’t identify the skewed distribution that can be found across England, with some schools teaching pupils that speak many different languages at home. This can be a real challenge to some less well funded primary schools. There is also the question as to whether the State should fund any first language tuition for these pupils or whether that is solely the responsibility of the family?

 

London is a different country

Among the more detailed numbers published yesterday by the DfE in the plethora of statistics about the school workforce in November 2018 was a breakdowns of the data by individual school; by local authority and by region of the country, with London further subdivided into Inner and Outer London, thus making ten regions in all.

In many respects the teacher workforce in London, and especially Inner London, is very different to the workforce in the rest of England. London is often regarded, along with New York, and a few other places, as a mega-city that is substantially different to its surrounding areas. To allow for comparison purposes, I have included data on the teacher workforce for Oxfordshire and the average for England as a whole in a table shown below.

  Inner London Inner London rank Outer London Outer London

rank

England

(Average)

Oxfordshire
% Male teachers 28.2% 1 25.6% 6 25.9% 24.3%
% Ethnic minority teachers 44.4% 1 37.8% 2 14.0% 9.6%
PTR (Overall) 15.7 1 17.7 =2 18.0 18.3
% part-time teachers 15.2% 10 19.8 8 23.7% 33.3%
% teachers 50+ 15.8% 10 18.2% 8 17.6% 20.7%
Average salary £45,285 1 £42,647 2 £39,504 £38,372
% of teachers with an allowance 43.6% 1 40.% 2 35.8% 31.7%
% teachers with one period of sickness 57.8% 1 56.4% 2 54.4% 52.3%
% schools reporting a vacancy 20.7% 2 23.1% 1 11.1% 10.7%

Source: DfE School Workforce Census tables. Note there are ten region including two for London.

Inner London is at the extreme in all aspect considered in the table, only ceding first or last place to Outer London in respect of the percentage of schools reporting a vacancy. With separate distinct pay rates, it is not surprising to find London toping the average salary figures, but it is perhaps more surprising to find it the top region for male teachers, with more than a quarter of teachers being men, compared to only just over 24% in Oxfordshire.

The other outstanding percentage is for the percentage of non-White teachers employed. Approaching one in two teachers in Inner London, and more than a third in Outer London, are from ethnic minority non-white backgrounds. This compares to less than 10% of teachers with such backgrounds in Oxfordshire.

Despite paying higher salaries, London schools also manage to have the most favourable Pupil Teacher Ratios in England, some three pupils per teacher better in Inner London than in Oxfordshire. This is despite the many small schools in Oxfordshire, and does indicate the funding difference between London schools and those in much of the rest of England.

Additionally, it may well be that as a result of better funding teachers in London are more likely to receive an allowance than those elsewhere in England. However, this may also be part of a drive to ensure schools are fully staffed. If so, it is only working to some degree, as London schools, and especially those in Outer London, are more likely to report a vacancy than schools anywhere else in England.

Based upon these figures, it is imperative that Ministers and civil servants look beyond London when assessing information about the teacher workforce, and especially when reviewing claims about the funding of schools.

More facts about the teaching profession

Those of my generation will remember the verse from the folk song about ‘where have all the young men gone?’ Written by the great Peter Seeger in the 1950s and, so Wikipedia informs me, based on a Cossack song and an Irish lumberjack tune, it became one of the most covered and well known of political folk songs of its generation.

I was reminded of the line when looking through the detailed tables in the DfE’s Workforce Statistics for 2018, published earlier today. Among men under the age of 25 there are just 3,159 working as classroom teachers in secondary schools across England compared with 2,005 working as classroom teachers in the primary sector.  Surprisingly, that’s better than a generation ago. In March 1997, the DfE recorded just 900 male primary school teachers under the age of 25 and 2,070 in that age group working as teachers in secondary schools. So, net gains all round and proportionally more so in the primary sector.

However, if you also look at the 45-49 age grouping for the number of men working as classroom teachers, the numbers are dramatically lower. In the primary sector, down from 8,215 classroom teachers to just 2,053, and in the secondary sector, from 23,602 to just 7,882, in the years between 1997 and 2018. Overall male teacher numbers fell from 31,000 to 25,311 in the primary sector between 1997 and 2018, and in the secondary sector from 90,100 to 64,513 during the same period.

The differences at more senior levels are not as easy to discover as less attention was paid in the 1990s to the gender of head teachers. However, I suspect that men have more than held their own in head teacher appointments, especially in the secondary sector, where women still from only a minority of the nation’s head teachers.

The proportion of non-White teachers in the profession remains small, especially in the more senior leadership posts. Whereas some 15% of classroom teachers are not White British, along with 10.3% of assistant and deputy heads, and some seven per cent of head teachers, these numbers fall if White Irish and other teachers classified by the DfE as from ‘any other white background’ are included. BAME percentages fall to less than 10% of classroom teachers and little more than four per cent of head teachers. Many are, I suspect, located only in a few distinct parts of England.

Overall numbers of entrants to the profession were static in 2018 compared with 2017, but this masked a fall in full-time entrants that was balanced by an increase in part-time entrants. The number of full-time entrants was at the lowest level since 2011, and must be some cause for concern, especially with the secondary school pupil population on the increase. Also of concern is the fact that the percentage of entrants under the age of 25 was at its lowest percentage since before 2011, when the workforce Census started, at 26.4% of entrants.

The profession cannot afford to lose any of its youngest teachers. A future post will look at trends in the retention of teachers.

 

As predicted: more pupils than last year

Over 2.3 million pupils are in being taught in academies or one type of another (72.3% of all secondary school pupils) along with over 1.4 million in primary schools (29.7% of all primary school pupils). These numbers were released yesterday by the DfE as part of their annual assessment of schools ad their pupils. This information has appeared somewhat earlier than expect; it was scheduled to appear in June. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/719226/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2018_Main_Text.pdf

The trend towards declining pupil numbers  at the lower end of the primary age range, and growing numbers at Year 7 in the secondary sector, is now clear to see from these figures and will come as no surprise to those that follow the data about schools and their pupils.

Overall, however, the number of pupils in state funded primary schools rose – as it has since 2009 – although at a slower rate than in recent years. There are 26,600 more pupils than in 2017, and 101,100 more since the 2016 census. The number of pupils in state funded secondary schools rose for the fourth year in a row by around 35,000, and in 2018 had a greater increase in population than primary schools.

There was some consolidation in the primary sector resulting in a net decrease of 20 state-funded primary schools, whereas in the secondary sector there was a net increase of 28 state-funded schools.

All-age schools once looked on askance, not least by the 1944 Education Act that outlawed them by requiring a break at eleven, are still on the increase, albeit perhaps at a slower rate than previously. In January 2017 there were 150 such schools, but this figure has increased to 163 state-funded schools in January 2018. Some of these are ‘free schools’, the most misnamed designation ever invented for a type of school.

As the economy has continued to create more jobs, especially for women, the continued fall in the number of registered pupils for free school meals is not a complete surprise. However, there is still anxiety that the universal free school meals policy for infants is affecting registration for free school meals, causing some schools to lose funding through the Pupil Premium. The issue of funding for deprivation and how it is used by schools is now overdue for a review as all schools will shortly feel the full effect of FSM+6 on their budgets. Perhaps the Social Mobility Commission might like to consider this issue.

A third of all pupils in the primary sector now come from what is classified as an ethnic background, although that includes nearly eight per cent from White non-British backgrounds. Just over one in ten pupils are from Asian background, and one in twenty from ‘Black’ backgrounds.  Slightly more than one in twenty are described as, of ‘mixed’ backgrounds, and this category is likely to increase over the coming years.

Fewer than one in twenty infants were in over-size classes of more than 30, with the majority being in classes of 31. As intakes have reduced in size, so has the issue of over-size classes for infants. Over the next few years, large classes are more likely to be a growing problem for secondary schools unless funding, especially for 16-18 improves.

 

Fewer younger trainee teachers?

Digging down into the details of yesterday’s DfE publication of the ITT census it seems as if the drift away from teaching as a career by young first time graduates has continued this year. The percentage change isn’t significant by itself, but if it forms part of a trend, then it will be worrying since new graduates have been in the past been a very important source of new entrants into the profession: those that remain also provide the bedrock of future leaders in ten to fifteen years.

This year, the percentage of postgraduate entrants under 25 fell to 50% of the total, while those over 30 increased to 24%. The latter are mostly career switchers and likely to be location specific when it comes to looking for teaching posts. Now, the percentage of older trainees has been higher during the dark days of some of the previous recruitment crisis periods, and losing under-25 is not unexpected as the cohort falls in size. However, it is a bit early in the demographic cycle affecting higher education to see a decline at the new graduate level at this stage. If it were to continue, then in three to four years’ time there might be a real issue if planning for how these missing entrants could be replaced has not taken place. To this end, last week’s announcement of funds to attract career changers is a welcome move. However, it is not just classroom teachers we need, but also the leaders of tomorrow.

There is mixed news on the gender profile of new entrants this year. Some secondary subjects have attracted more men, notably mathematics, where the percentage of males topped the 50% mark again, after falling to 49% last year. Overall men accounted for only 39% of secondary applicants this year although there were more, due to the overall rise in trainee numbers: 6,270 this year compared with 5,945 last year. In the primary sector, men accounted for 19% of trainee numbers, down from 20% last year, meaning 185 fewer men this year than last. Worrying, but nowhere near as bad as it was in the late 1990s when I think that the percentage was heading towards single figures. Still, it is not a good gender balance.

Perhaps not surprisingly, computing had one of the largest percentages of men in the cohort: some 68% of trainees, although that was down two per cent on last year. However, that was topped by Physics, where 71% of the 575 trainees were men this year. This means there were only around 170 women on teacher preparation courses to teach Physics this year. If there is sufficient demand from single sex girls’ schools, then a female NQT in physics might be a rare sighting in a co-educational school next September.

There is better news about the ethnic background of new entrants into teacher preparation courses, with 18% of postgraduate trainees and 12% of undergraduate new entrants being recorded as from any minority ethnic group. These are the highest percentages in recent years, and possibly since records were first collected about ethnicity. However, the DfE doesn’t reveal how many trainees did not provide this information.

In my next blog I will discuss trends across the different types of providers and the balance between school based courses and the more established partnership arrangements led by higher education and most SCITTs.