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.

 

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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.

 

Are all trainees equal in the job market?

There is quite a lot of other data in the ITT profiles that wasn’t discussed in the previous post on this blog. However, it also has to be said that there is a lot of data that isn’t in the profiles, notably for different secondary subjects and routes and regions. I assume the DFE uses that data when considering the bids from providers, but with largely open recruitment, in all except a small number of subjects, it is only meaningful data if it shows some regions are missing out on trainees. A breakdown of employment by region where QTS was obtained and region NQT is reported as teaching in would also be interesting. However, as some providers are close to regional boundaries maps showing the percentage of those with QTS teaching in each region by region of QTS award would be the best method of displaying such information.

Still, we must make do with what is on offer. I prefer the simple calculation for postgraduate trainees of the percentage of those that were recorded as final year trainees and the percentage in teaching six months after gaining QTS. This includes teaching in the private sector, so isn’t yet providing a picture of those that started an ITT course and ended up teaching in a state funded school. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before that data is available.

Anyway, what do we know? Women outweigh men at the start of the final year by more than 2:1. Women are also more likely to end up in teaching than men. 85% of women recorded as final year trainees were in teaching six months from being awarded QTS, compared with 79% of men.  Of the 8,525 men recorded as final year trainees in 2016, only 6,700 were in teaching by then end of 2017. There were 285 recorded as looking and a further 365 recorded as still to complete QTS, so the percentage could increase, but it could also increase for women as well for the same reasons.

Members of ethnic minorities, of whatever gender, fare less well than those from a non-minority ethnic group in the working as a teacher outcomes. Only 78% of the 3,875 that were recorded as final year trainees from an ethnic minority group were recorded as being in a teaching post six months after receiving QTS. Again, there may be late entrants yet to come from the pool of 120 trainee still looking and the 290 yet to complete QTS.

Recording a disability seems create an even greater hurdle. Of the 2,560 trainees recorded as declaring a disability at the start of their final year, only 1,960 or 77% were recorded as in teaching six months after receiving QTS. This is especially disappointing in light of the fact that 12% of final year trainees, a record percentage, declared a disability. More work needs to be done to discover the issues with this group finding work as a teacher.

Finally, I am interested in how trainees find their teaching jobs? Are more now offered jobs by the schools where they spend time and do fewer trainees need recourse to national jobs sites such as either TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk – where I am chair – or other recruitment sites? Do please let me know your thoughts.

 

Few teachers from ethnic minorities outside London

According to the School Workforce Survey, in November 2016, just over half of the secondary classroom teachers in London schools were from ethnic minorities. This compared with just five per cent of classroom teachers in the North East of England.

The percentage of teachers from ethnic minorities in London secondary schools only changed marginally between 2010 and 2016, increasing from 52% to 53%, whereas in Inner London primary schools the percentage, although lower, had increased from 40% to 44%. In the North East, the percentages had stayed the same at 5% in secondary sector and just two per cent in the primary sector.  The data comes from the tables in the DfE’s new leadership study discussed in the previous post on this blog. The data reveals the gulf in employment of teachers from ethnic minorities in the different regions of England.

Senior leaders and head teachers from ethnic minority backgrounds are still relatively rare in schools outside of London and parts of the West Midlands. What this study doesn’t highlight is the difficulties some ethnic minority candidates have in even entering the teaching profession in the first place. The now departed NCTL undertook a number of different studies identifying this problem and it is to be hoped that the data from those studies won’t just disappear from sight along with the NCTL.

There is some encouraging data from this DfE study, showing that in 2016 more ethnic minorities were appointed as a percentage than in 2010, except for primary classroom teachers, where the percentage ‘new to post’ remained the same at 12% in both years even though the total stock increased by two per cent over the period to 14%. The percentage of primary places on teacher preparation courses being offered to ethnic minority candidates bears further examination, since many courses are in areas where few such candidates may be applying putting greater pressure on a relatively small number of courses. Such an arrangement can produce a ceiling for the number of ethnic minority candidates that can be accepted if applicants are not spread around the country more widely.

Women continued to make headway in the secondary sector between 2010 and 2016, taking a great percentage of all post up to headships, where there was no change, with a disappointing low figure of 38% in both years. However, in the primary sector the picture was almost exactly the opposite, with women taking a lower percentage of posts in 2016 than in 2010 up to deputy head level. There was a slight increase in the percentage of both deputy and heads that were women in the primary sector between 2010 and 2016, to 80% and 73% respectively.

Not surprisingly, as the retirement boom ran its course, the result was a younger teaching force at all levels by 2016, although, as pointed out in the previous blog post, the length of time required to become a head teacher didn’t decline in the same way as it did between 2010 and 2016 for other promoted and leadership posts.

 

 

 

Celebrating Diversity

Twenty years ago this autumn, the then Teacher Training Agency (TTA) launched an advertising campaign to attract new recruits to train as a teacher. There were two adverts. The talking heads one with the strap line, ‘no one forgets a good teacher’ remains memorable, but the other, although more innovative as an advertisement, doesn’t register in the collective memory to the same degree. In a sign of how far society has changed since 1997, when published, neither advert contained either a web site or email contact address; unthinkable these days.

At the same time the TTA was launching its advertising campaign it was also starting its first drive to recruit minority groups into teaching, starting with a focus on ethnic minority groups. There were a series of conferences to launch the policy, including one in East London addressed by the new Minister, Estelle Morris, newly launched on her career in government.

A decade later I conducted a detailed study for the then TDA into progress in recruitment of minorities into teaching and some years later I replicated the work just on the progress of recruiting ethnic minority candidates both into training and into teaching. As a result, it is interesting to see the data in the recently published ITT provider profiles about the change in percentages of minority groups recruited into training. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/initial-teacher-training-performance-profiles-2015-to-2016

n many respects, 2015/16 as a good year for minority groups seeking to enter teaching. The percentage of male recruits broke through the 30% barrier for the first time since 2010/11; the percentage of students with a declared disability increased to its highest in the past decade, to reach nine per cent of postgraduate students; similarly, students from a minority ethnic background reached a new high for the decade of 14% of postgraduate entrants. There was even an increase among older trainees over the age of 25, although, at 54%, is still well below the record 62% of trainees over 25 that was reached 2010/11.

How far these percentages reflect either a genuine change in policy or just the outcome of falling overall application levels isn’t clear from the data. An analysis of the provider data for trainees from an ethnic minority background, where numbers are large enough to be reported, shows that London providers dominate the scene, with half the top twenty providers with the best ratio of ethnic minority trainees to overall numbers of postgraduates recruited being located in London. Of the other ten providers, five are located in the West Midlands; two in Yorkshire and The Humber and one in each of the South East, East Midlands and East of England. There were no providers north of the West Midlands or in the South West in the top 20 providers for graduate trainees where data is reported. Indeed, six of the next ten are also in London and the first identified provider in the South West is only in the 39th highest position.

In this context, the reduction in offers to new applicants for 2017 by London providers, reported in previous blogs, will be watched with interest to see what effect it has on recruitment profiles. However, it won’t be until the summer of 2019 that we will know the outcomes.

Ethnic minority teachers: some progress, but where are we heading?

In the autumn of 1997 the new Labour government held three conferences designed to raise awareness about the need to recruit more teachers from ethnic minority groups. Over the following 15 years the TTA, and its successor the TDA, continually tried to encourage more recruits into teaching from among students with an ethnic minority background. Their success was mixed. As the following table shows, students from a White background were more likely to be accepted into teaching than were those students from minority backgrounds, at least as far as courses for graduates to train as a teacher were concerned.

Applications and acceptances by ethnic grouping – UK domicile UK degree 2007-2010
Ethnic Group

Applications

Accepted

% accepted

% of the total accepted

Asian

14,787

3,176

21.40%

6%

Black

6,008

905

15.00%

2%

Other/Unknown

9,441

2,475

26.00%

5%

White

147,833

48,359

32.70%

88%

Total

178,069

54,915

Source: The Author

As a result, it has been estimated that if there were thee hundred graduate would-be teachers; 100 each from the Asian, Black and White groupings:  24 of the white group, 14 of the Asian group, and just nine of the Black group would be likely to fulfil their aspiration of teaching in a state funded school classroom. Even in the sciences, where shortages have been the greatest, out of three hundred would-be science teachers there would be 34 White teachers, 17 Asian teachers and 11 Black teachers.

This suggests that is a need to understand why this discrepancy between the groups arises, especially so since with School Direct decisions now being made at the level of the individual schools.  There is evidence that even when students from an ethnic minority have gained QTS they find it more of a challenge to secure a teaching post.

A second concern is that when ethnic minorities do secure teaching posts they tend to do so in areas where there are large numbers of pupils from ethnic minorities in the schools. A study of the 2012 School Workforce Survey revealed 115 schools where two thirds or more of their teaching staff were from ethnic minority groups. Overwhelmingly, these schools were in London. Of the 31 local authority areas with at least one school that had two thirds or greater ethnic minority staff, 23 were London Boroughs, and only Birmingham among the other eight authorities outside of London had more than two schools where the staffroom was comprised of more than two thirds ethnic minority teachers. The London Borough of Brent had by far the largest number of schools; 28 in all that met the two-thirds criteria. Many of these schools, along with those in other authorities, were primary schools, including the school I attended for six years as a primary age pupil, but there were some secondary school in the list.  The other London Boroughs with more than five schools with high concentrations of staff from ethnic minorities included; Ealing; Hackney; Lambeth; Newham; Tower Hamlets and Haringey.

This concentration of teachers from ethnic minorities in a small number of schools raises the issue of whether this might increasingly create schools that are monocultural in nature, and whether this is desirable in a multi-cultural society? Outside of the big cities, teachers from ethnic minorities are probably far rarer sights for white pupils than the Asian corner-shop and the Chinese, Thai or Bangladeshi Restaurant.  Can this developing divide be healthy for society?