Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery

In the DfE’s White Paper of March 2016 there was discussion of the idea of the need for a teacher vacancy portal. The Select Committee in the last parliament were also interested in the idea. As we also know for the NAO report of earlier this week, the DfE historically has had little handle on the necessary management information regarding the current working of the teacher labour market. It was, therefore interesting to receive the email detailed below earlier today from the DfE:

Thank you for your email. We [at the DfE] have recently started a 14-week ‘alpha’ development phase of the Teacher Vacancy Service project, and our focus is very much on user testing at the moment. We are hoping to engage again with vacancy suppliers shortly.

I would be delighted to hear from those involved in the ‘alpha’ testing phase at present so we can see how the DfE’s efforts match up against those of TeachVac and other suppliers such as the TES and eteach?

We know the DfE set aside a budget of £300,000 last autumn for some of this work. As TeachVac is free to schools and teachers, anything the DfE is going to do isn’t going to hurt our direct profits, as TeachVac makes its money in other ways. Whether it hurts other suppliers of vacancies will depend upon the model the DfE is proposing to use.

If it is a portal to redirect schools and applicants to suppliers and other job boards it probably won’t be public money well spent. If it is a foray from the DfE into the type of service TeachVac offers for free, then it will be interesting to see how the DfE’s ideas match up with what already exists. If the DfE is intending to drive down the cost of recruiting then it will certainly have an impact on those that charge for marketing teaching vacancies? They can argue the case as to whether or not it is good use of public money.

Either way, from the Fast Track scheme of nearly 20 years ago, through the School Recruitment Service of nearly a decade ago, to the National Teaching Service, abandoned late last year, schemes derived by civil servants don’t seem to have had a great success rate when they try to intervene in the labour market for teachers.

Nevertheless, as TeachVac has demonstrated, there is a need for a service that is free to schools and teachers and also provides high quality data for those that want to understand the current labour market.

If the DfE version does not interact with independent sector schools, the private providers such as TeachVac, the TES and others will continue to have the edge over the DfE by offering a wider range of information about vacancies all in one place.

This week has seen a significant move forward in understanding the need for real-time vacancy information for the teaching profession. The DfE should now explain what they are proposing.







Not a good year for ITT

The final set of UCAS numbers for ITT before most course start next month were published today. Earlier in the week, in preparation for the today’s publication, I took a look at the daily figures for a date in late August 2017 and compared them with the same date in 2016. The comparison didn’t make for encouraging reading.

Subject Difference between 2017 on 2016 offers Number of Placed and conditional firm 2017
ART & DESIGN -130 505
BIOLOGY -340 965
CHEMISTRY -110 855
DRAMA -25 350
ENGLISH 30 1855
GEOGRAPHY 300 1175
HISTORY 215 1135
MFL -50 1420
MUSIC -50 310
PHYSICS -140 690
OTHERS -95 500

In the table I have reproduced two sets of the data; the difference between the number of ‘placed’ and ‘conditionally firm’ offers made in 2017 compared with on the same date in 2016 and the actual number of place and conditional firm offers recorded across all four types of courses (higher education, SCITTs, and the two School Direct routes).  Now a couple of caveats; numbers are rounded, so are not exact, but indicative, and some people offed places may not turn up or stay when they do start the course. These decisions will affect the number in the published ITT census to be released in November. These changes could be balanced or, we live in hope, exceeded by those still in the system being processed at this time. However, in many subjects, the numbers awaiting offers and otherwise in the process of having their application considered is also lower than in 2016.

The good news is in Geography, history and physical education, where, in these subject, offers are up on 2016. In English and computing there are smaller improvements and certainly not enough to mean these subjects will hit their Teacher Supply Model number. Elsewhere, there is gloom with fewer offers than last year even when the ‘placed’ and ‘conditionally firm’ numbers have been added together.

On the basis of these figures, as this blog has been reporting since the start of the year, 2018 is likely to be a more challenging recruitment round for schools seeking teachers than 2017 has been, unless either funding cuts significantly reduce the demand for teachers or existing teachers receive a pay rise that absorbs more of school funds so reducing recruitment of teachers. TeachVac will report on those trends as the 2018 recruitment round unfolds from January 2018 onwards.

As this blog has reported consistently over the past few months, the key loss is from women in the 21-22 age groups, where offers are down by several hundred compared with recorded numbers last year. This is a very worrying trend and needs further investigation to see which subjects are especially affected as the increases in history and geography offers may be masking some quite large declines in other subjects. The DfE may wish to ask their advertising agency why the marketing campaign is not attracting this age group in the same numbers as in the past.

The other policy issue for the DfE to consider is where School Direct is heading? There are fewer offers for both the fee and salaried routes in secondary subjects this year, with English particularly badly affected. The decline in numbers on these routes will mean more schools competing for the trainees prepared through the higher education and SCITT routes where offers seem to have held up much better.

Now it may be that schools are switching from School Direct to consider an apprenticeship approach. If so, that change cannot be captured in this data but does need to be monitored somehow. If not, then the future direction of allocations will need consideration as to how to maximise entrants into the profession for 2019 onwards when secondary pupil numbers will be rising rapidly.


More news from TeachVac

As we start a new school year, TeachVac, the national vacancy service for schools and teachers, has introduced the first of its new suite of developments that marks its continued growth. TeachVac is now the largest single source of free teaching vacancies for both schools and teachers in England across both state-funded and private schools.

Supporting the public face of the platform, where schools place vacancies for free and teachers can receive daily notification of vacancies meeting their requirements, is an important back office of statistical information. From today, TeachVac has widened the range of subjects where we collect more than the basic data on vacancies, to include both languages and English. These new subjects join mathematics, the sciences, design and technology, and computing in the list of subjects where additional data about every recorded vacancy is now being recorded.

For many of these subjects, such as the design and technology, the sciences and languages, it allows TeachVac to understand the real aims of schools when advertising generically for a teacher of science or languages. What sciences or combination of languages are these schools really seeking? How much are they willing to pay for particular specialisms? Is there really a growing demand for teachers of Mandarin? Up until now such information hasn’t been easily available. TeachVac now codifies the information on a daily basis. If you are interested in knowing more about the project and exactly what data are being collected then contact the team at TeachVac via the web site. Sadly, unlike the free to use basic vacancy matching service, data requests are not provided free of charge, but involve a small fee.

In addition to data about teaching vacancies at all levels, and in both primary and secondary schools, TeachVac also collects data about technician posts in secondary schools. This can be a good guide to how funding issues are affecting schools, since turnover among these posts tends to be higher than for teachers and resignations are not fixed to the same termly cycle as for most teaching vacancies. This can make them more sensitive to changes in funding an act as a barometer for the market.

As August is the holiday month, TeachVac is delighted to have welcomed visitors from more than 70 countries to the site so far this month; another new record. Overall visits to the TeachVac site have once again doubled over the past year and the trend continues to be upward. In January 2018, TeachVac will publish its first look at trends in the labour market for head teachers. This will continue a trend of such reports first started in the mid-1980s.

Over recent months there has been intense interest in how vacancies are communicated to teachers by schools and how the cost of recruitment can be reduced. TeachVac has a credible free service that costs both schools and teachers nothing to use and has the capacity to save millions of pounds for schools, especially those with large recruitment budgets as a result of both the growth in pupil numbers or increasing teacher turnover as recorded by the DfE in their annual School Workforce Censuses.


TeachVac continues to grow

As many readers of this blog know, I am chair of the company that operates TeachVac – the National Vacancy Service for Schools and Teachers. Once seen by some as a concept that wouldn’t survive, TeachVac is now starting its fourth cycle of free, unpaid, recruitment advertising for teaching posts. Covering teaching vacancies across the whole of England, with plans to expand further in the autumn, TeachVac offers a free service to both schools and applicants looking for a teaching post and has doubled in size yet again over the last twelve months.

In addition to handling vacancies for individual schools, TeachVac also handles organisations placing multiple vacancies at the same time and has special arrangements for both dioceses and MATs that help those with decentralised recruitment policies track what is happening in their schools.

With coverage of all 151 local authority areas in England, TeachVac includes vacancies in both state-funded schools of all descriptions as well as private schools and from the start of 2017, state funded-primary schools throughout the whole of England. TeachVac is now the largest site for teaching vacancies in England and, of course is free to both schools posting vacancies as well as those seeking a teaching post.

Vacancies are shown to registered job seekers at one of three different levels, classroom teacher; promoted post and leadership positions. Job seekers may specify either a geographical area based a radius of a postcode or a specific local authority area for the larger rural counties. New matches are sent to candidates every day and allow the potential applicant to decide whether to apply for the vacancy. TeachVac makes it possible to track how many applicants are interested in each vacancy.

Over the course of a year, new entrants to the profession can see something of the frequency of vacancies in the subject they are preparing to teach and the location where they wish to teach. This also applies to teachers overseas wishing to return to England to teach and, indeed, any teacher considering either a change of school or a promotion. TeachVac regularly receives visits from those located in over 100 countries around the world each year.

With its wealth of real-time data, TeachVac monitors the recruitment round as it is taking place. This, along with saving money for schools was the reason for creating TeachVac in the first place.

TeachVac is also uniquely placed to match numbers in training with vacancies across the recruitment cycle providing early warnings of shortages both in specific subjects or geographical areas so that schools can make the necessary adjustments to their recruitment campaigns. As hinted in previous posts, although 2017 was not the worst recruitment round of recent years, 2018 is shaping up to be a real challenge for many schools.

If you want to recruit a teacher, find a new teaching post or understand what is actually happening the teacher recruitment marketplace then visit  – the National Vacancy Service for Schools and Teachers.

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.

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.

PE trainees find jobs: but what are they teaching?

Last week the DfE published the ITT provider profiles for 2015/16.  The data provides the final look at the cohort that were seeking work for September 2016 and January this year. One of the most interesting tables is the completion rate by subject.

  Percentage awarded QTS Percentage in a teaching post
All Primary and Secondary 91% 95%
Primary 91% 96%
Secondary 92% 94%
of which:    
Computing 84% 92%
Physics 85% 91%
Chemistry 87% 93%
Total Science 88% 93%
Mathematics 89% 92%
Biology 90% 95%
Religious Education 91% 96%
Design & Technology 92% 95%
Geography 92% 97%
Modern & Ancient Languages 93% 92%
English 93% 97%
Other 93% 92%
History 94% 95%
Music 95% 93%
Art & Design 95% 93%
Physical Education 96% 94%
Drama 96% 96%
Business Studies x 91%
Classics x 97%

There seems to be something of a link between subjects where recruitment was challenging and the percentage of entrants awarded QTS at the normal point of completion of the programme. For instance, only 85% of physics trainees were awarded QTS compared with 96% of Physical Education trainees. Now, physics is a subject with perennial recruitment problems, whereas Physical Education faces the opposite situation with many more applicants than places. Indeed, this was the first year where recruitment controls were in place, so that makes the data even more interesting.

The percentages of those in a teaching post must be treated with a degree of caution since a footnote records that: “When calculating the proportion “in a teaching post”, we exclude those with an unknown employment status from those awarded QTS.” SFR page 10. There is also the issue of what “in a teaching post” actually means? It does not mean only fully employed teaching the subject against which you are shown as having trained. Neither does it mean teaching in a maintained school nor even in a school. Once the DfE can link the identification number for a trainee with the School Workforce Census it should be possible to be much more specific in the presentation of the data. In the meantime, it appears as if 94% of Physical Education trainees are in a teaching post compared with only 91% of Business Studies trainees. This is the opposite of the situation shown in the TeachVac data based upon an analysis of vacancies advertised by schools. So, either many of the Physical Education trainees aren’t teaching PE in state funded schools or there is a mis-match between vacancies and trainee numbers that needs exploring further if public money isn’t to be wasted on training teachers for non-state funded schools.

The other interesting subject is English. Here trainee numbers were much high than the previous year, but 97% are shown as in a teaching post. This suggests that the complaints of the previous year that the ITT allocations had been too low were fully justified. Looking ahead, the profiles for next year are likely to show similar percentages in employment, but lower numbers having obtained QTS in a range of different subjects.

The DfE are proposing to make changes to the profiles and the Statistical Bulleting invites comments about the new proposals. The proposals seem eminently sensible to me, but still don’t answer the question about where and what trainees are teaching. There also is nothing about Ofsted and their findings of the link between training and employment mooted some years ago as of great importance in measuring quality.


New Evidence on recruitment crisis

An analysis of TeachVac’s data on recorded vacancies announced by secondary schools in the first seven months of 2017 sreveals how much schools in London and the Home Counties dominate the list of the top 100 schools regularly advertising vacancies.


TeachVac records the vacancies from the vast majority of secondary schools, both state funded and independent and links those vacancies with teachers and trainees seeking employment. This free service to schools and trainees, teachers and returners to the profession also provides an interesting amount of data for analysis. TeachVac’s Summer Review for 2017, looking at some data around the labour market for teachers, is published today and copies can be obtained by contacting The price is £15 plus postage and packing.

Returning to the percentages in the table above, even allowing for schools that regularly advertise to create a talent pool; for schools where TeachVac may have picked up advertisements for School Direct teacher preparation courses; for re-advertisements and other advertisements that have could have been double counted, the data is so stark as to make clear the likely regional extent of recruitment issues in the labour market for main scale classroom teachers in secondary schools.

Some 80% of the 100 recorded schools with the most advertised vacancies are in or around the London area, compared with just eight per cent for schools across the north of England and 11% across the Midlands. Of course, this also doesn’t take into account the different sizes of schools; their differential funding patterns and turnover rates. However, the difference between the top three regions and the rest of England is so stark as to suggest that even when these factors are taken into account there will still be a significant difference between London and most of the rest of England.

In my previous post, helpfully given extra publicity by the TES, I recorded the fact that for many subjects 2018 is already shaping up to be a challenging labour market. But, for many schools that is also going to be the case for unexpected vacancies that arise for January 2018. The Review identifies the TeachVac analysis of vacancies compared to the size of the ITT supply side as recorded by the November 2017 ITT census.

The Review also looks at head teacher turnover in the primary sector. Recording data on the labour market for teachers is important in helping shape the future needs of the profession. The fall in acceptances for 2017 training provision the London area, reported in this blog yesterday, is also of concern for 2018. Should there be some help for trainees living in London above the normal bursary arrangements, as there is with teachers’ salaries for those working in the Capital?