Governors warn of teacher recruitment crisis

Tell us something we didn’t know, might be the first reaction to this headline from today’s Times newspaper. Indeed, October is a slightly odd time to publish such a survey, as it is well after the start of the school year and at a point where teacher recruitment is heading towards its autumn low point before picking up again in January.

However, I guess it took the TES some time to put together the answers from the National Governance Association members that completed the survey. Anyway, a survey of this type does help to keep the pressure on government, lest they try and bury concerns about teacher recruitment.

The figure for the extra number of teachers needed by the mid-2020s is also not really news, since the DfE has been publishing the forward planning associated with the Teacher Supply Model for the past couple of years. We have David Laws to thank for opening up this key planning tool to general visibility when he was Minister of State.  The next iteration of the Model is due to be published in a couple of weeks, towards the end of the month and will confirm future needs as the school population increases. No doubt this blog will comment on the DfE’s views at that time.

I was surprised that the NGA/TES Survey didn’t highlight the issues many schools have had this year trying to recruit a teacher of English. Indeed, TeachVac http://www.teachvac.co.uk  where I am the chair of the board, surveys key subjects on a daily basis and across the whole of England and we would rate English as more of a problem subject in 2018 than mathematics. As I pointed out last week on this blog, that might not be the case in 2019.

The report in the Times article didn’t mention regional recruitment issues. At TeachVac, we believe that the recruitment situation is generally at its worst in and around London. That’s not to say school elsewhere don’t face problems for specific reasons, but that a higher proportion of school in London and the Home Counties may expect to find recruitment difficult.

The Times newspaper article also ignored the challenges in vocational subjects such as business studies and parts of the design and technology curriculum. That’s probably not surprising, as the DfE shows a complete lack of interest in these subjects, not even offering a bursary to business studies students despite the real challenges schools face in recruiting these teachers.

With the government’s school-based training scheme, School Direct, having stalled this year, the NGA ought to be asking what can be done to ensure teachers that train through higher education courses end up in the schools where they are needed. It is absolutely no use attracting more mature entrants on the back of the BBC Radio 4 series with Lucy Kellaway, if they are in the wrong place and wrong subjects. The Treasury ought to be asking why so many teachers of history are being trained at £9,250 a head. Wasting money training too many teachers is as much of an issue as not training enough, but receives fewer headlines.

 

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TeachVac or the DfE site?  

Which free site offers the best approach to finding a teaching job?

There are the only 2 sites for teaching vacancies in England with national coverage that are free to both schools and teachers. One is offered by TeachVac the other is the developing DfE site.

I would add that I have been chair of the group operating TeachVac since its inception over four years ago. TeachVac like the new DfE site came about because of the high cost to schools of recruitment advertising.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk uses a defined request approach. Users register and can specify their preferences for phase, location and other key criteria. As vacancies enter the system they are matched and each day details of new matches are sent to registered users to decide whether to take time in finding out more about the school and the vacancy.

This method does not require users to do any searching of the site and preferences can be changed if not enough matches are found in a particular area. The system is simple to use and in periods of the year when there are many jobs on offer – specifically from March to June for classroom teacher posts – applicants do not need to waste time searching through lots of unsuitable vacancies.

The DfE offering is at https://teaching-jobs.service.gov.uk/ and is based around a more traditional open search system that requires teachers to specify filters. A click through on a vacancy also doesn’t take you directly to the school site, but to a more detailed analysis of the vacancy with a link in a sidebar to the vacancy page.

At present, the coverage of the DfE’s site is limited and applicants will have to keep checking to see if the area that they are interested in now live on the DfE site. TeachVac has coverage of the whole of England.

TeachVac includes both independent and all types of state funded primary and secondary schools in its coverage, whereas the DfE only handles state funded schools.

Let’s leave aside the concept of the State taking over from the market in providing a service; something odd to see from a Conservative government.

The DfE, like TeachVac, is trying to save schools money in these straightened financial times, but costs more to operate than TeachVac.

So, register with TeachVac. If it doesn’t meet your requirements, you can easily deregister and be forgotten by the site, then visit the DfE site and see how they compare?

If you like the TeachVac approach – no nonsense, no marketing and daily alerts if new jobs arise, then let me know and tell your friends and colleagues. Please also make suggestions for improvements and possible marketing routes.

TeachVac also tells schools that register with the site about the state of the market when they post a vacancy and has special arrangements for both diocese and multi-academy trusts wanting to list vacancies at several different schools.

To finish with a reminder. TeachVac is free to use for both teachers, returners and schools. It is offered as a service to the education community.

 

 

 

UK Music Talent pipeline concerns

UK Music, is the industry-funded body established in October 2008 to represent the collective interests of the recorded, published and live arms of the British music industry.

To quote from their website, UK Music promotes the interests of record labels and music publishers (major and independent), songwriters, composers, lyricists, musicians, managers, producers, promoters, venues and collection societies through collective representation. https://www.ukmusic.org/about/

At the Liberal Democrat Conference this week UK Music published a pamphlet entitled ‘Securing our talent pipeline’ https://www.ukmusic.org/news/securing-our-talent-pipeline

As they acknowledge, the UK music industry is doing well at present. It grew by 6 per cent last year and is now worth £4.4 billion to the economy with the live music industry contributing around £1 billion. However, that is exactly the time to reflect on the future.

UK Music say that while the immediate outlook is promising, there is growing evidence of a looming crisis in the music industry’s talent pipeline – a pipeline that they rely on for future stars and one that is a vital part of their industry’s eco-system.

Schools form an important part of developing that talent pipeline, so I thought I would take a look at the evidence from TeachVac, the vacancy site for teachers where I am chair of the board. www.teachvac.co.uk about recruitment and the supply of teachers of music.

The headline statistic is that music in our schools, as a classroom taught subject, is more of a shortage subject than mathematics. Sadly, TeachVac doesn’t keep data on instrumental and other specialist music teaching at this point in time.

Despite cuts to the curriculum in state funded schools, there have been more than 600 vacancies for main scale classroom teachers recorded so far in 2018 by TeachVac. This is slightly down on the 632 vacancies recorded by this point in 2017, but not significantly so. The previous two years, 2015 and 2016 recorded around the 550 vacancies mark by this point in September.

Allowing for better coverage in 2017 and 2018 by TeachVac, there doesn’t seem yet to have been a collapse in demand for classroom teachers of music. However, there are significant regional differences. Around half of the vacancies recorded in 2018 were from secondary schools in either London or the South East, the regions with the largest concentration of independent schools and the best funded state schools. Relatively few vacancies have been recorded from schools in the North East so far in 2018.

The real cause of any shortage of teachers of music is the failure of the DfE to attract enough trainee teachers of music over the past few years, and especially for entry into teacher preparation courses in 2017. Last September, the DfE estimate in the Teacher Supply Model was for 409 music teachers; 295 were recruited according to their census of trainees. This year, by the middle of August, potential trainee numbers were slightly below the same period in 2017 and on target for around 280 trainees overall.

Allowing for failure to complete for various reasons, this means the number of new entrants in 2019 could be in the range of 250-275 for the 4,000 or so secondary schools across England. Turnover would need to be as low as five per cent to ensure sufficient new entrants, even assuming the distribution across the country was as required: an unlikely situation.

So, music may well be a subject of concern in 2019 and UK Music are right to worry about the long-term consequences for their industry and the UK Economy.

 

 

 

OECD’s view of UK teachers

The OECD has today published the latest in its Education Indicators at a Glance series this is a weighty document that takes a while to download even on reasonably fast computers. Still, I is worth the efforts. http://webexchanges.oecdcode.org/F0w3Shjh/EAG2018_final_embargo.pdf

Two of the interesting comments about the United Kingdom are that:

The teaching workforce in the United Kingdom is one of the youngest among all OECD countries, and starting salaries from pre-primary to upper secondary education are below the OECD average.

Lower secondary school heads play an active role in decision making and leadership in the United Kingdom. In England, they earn more than twice the salary of tertiary-educated workers, the highest premium for school heads across OECD countries.

It is interesting to read the OECD comment specifically about headteachers in England as the majority of their observations are a combination of the four ‘home nations’ data into a United Kingdom analysis.

The OECD has some interesting observations about the teaching force in the United Kingdom:

As in most OECD countries, the majority of teaching staff in the United Kingdom are women, with the share of women decreasing as the level of education increases. At lower secondary level, there is more gender balance in the United Kingdom than in many other countries. In 2016, 36% of lower secondary teachers in the United Kingdom were men, almost 5 percentage points higher than the average across OECD countries (31%).

Despite our concerns about attracting men into teaching, the United Kingdom seems to be doing better than many other OECD countries in attracting and keeping men in secondary school teaching, but we cannot afford to be complacent about the future in terms of attracting anyone into teaching.

The good news is that the United Kingdom has a relatively young teaching force. This should be helpful in ensuring a stream of future leaders for the schools unless wastage removes the brightest and best into other jobs, an issue not discussed by the OECD.

The teaching workforce in the United Kingdom has become younger since 2005 and is now the youngest among all OECD countries in primary education and the second youngest after Turkey in lower secondary education. In primary schools, 31% of teachers are aged 30 or younger, compared to the OECD average of 12%.  

However, there is a risk with so many young workers of a loss of a proportion of teachers to caring responsibilities.

OECD acknowledge the relatively poor starting pay for teachers – this was before the current 3.5% increase in England.

When bonuses and allowances are included, the average actual salaries of lower secondary teachers in England and Scotland are lower than the average earnings of tertiary-educated workers, as in most countries. However, this relative earnings gap is slightly higher than the OECD average.

However, the OECD notes that after 15 years experience (sic), teachers’ salaries have increased considerably, and exceed the OECD average across all levels of education except upper secondary education in both England and Scotland. However, salary progression slows down after 15 years of experience, resulting in top of scale salaries that lag behind those in other OECD countries. It is not clear whether this also applies to salaries of school leaders.

In terms of school autonomy, I find the following statement difficult to understand.

The United Kingdom is among the few countries where local authorities are the main initial source of funds as well as the main final purchasers of educational services. In the United Kingdom, local authorities generate and spend 55% of education funds in primary, secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education.

Since local authorities don’t have a vote on Schools Forum and there is a move to a National Funding formula, this paragraph might need reconsidering in future versions of the publication.

Overall, OECD remain positive of the benefits of education to individuals and society as a whole.

 

 

Is it harder to recruit teachers of English than teachers of mathematics?

I can finally report that TeachVac, www.teachvac.co.uk the national vacancy site that provides free posting of jobs for schools and uses a defined alert system for teachers seeking to know about vacancies, now shows mathematics as a subject where schools anywhere in England might encounter recruitment challenges, if they are looking for a teacher to fill a vacancy for January 2019.

But, I hear you say, mathematics is a shortage subject and schools already cannot recruit teachers to teach the subject. That’s certainly the message put out by those in the mathematics world. Curiously, their colleagues representing teacher of English make much less noise about the shortages in their subject.

Both English and mathematics are key subjects, recruiting many new teachers each year, although not as many as the sciences overall as a subject area. If mathematics teachers are in really short supply, then a percentage of vacancies will in reality be re-advertisements for posts schools could not fill the first time they advertised them.

So far, in 2018, TeachVac has recorded around 300 more vacancies for teachers of mathematics than for teachers of English. However, with fewer trainees in English than were recruited to mathematics teacher preparation courses in 2017, this gap goes a long way to explaining why the autumn term could have seen some schools struggling to recruit teachers of English even more than they will teachers of mathematics.

Of course, part of the explanation for the level of demand might be that schools have bought into the message of a national shortage of mathematics teachers and not bothered to advertise a vacancy, instead filling it by using existing staff in a creative fashion.

There is another explanation that is linked to the way that schools are now starting to advertise vacancies. A growing number of schools don’t advertise specific posts but request interest from teachers seeking to work at the school or within the Multi-Academy Trust. The school or Trust then, presumably, sifts through these expressions of interest when a vacancy occurs and contacts the most likely candidates to see if they are still interested.

In the past schools may also have used recruitment agencies and one firm in particular still operates some micro-sites for schools. However, I suspect this may not be a cost effective solution, especially with free services such as TeachVac now being available.

Of course, there may be more ‘returners’ in English than in mathematics and that may help explain less concern over recruitment for teachers of English.

Hopefully, better recruitment onto courses preparing teachers of English in 2018 will make for a less challenging labour market in that subject for September 2019 and January 2020 vacancies. For mathematics, we must wait and see how many trainees were recruited and actually started courses this September.

One thing that is certain is that in 2019 there will once again be a shortage of teachers of business studies and probably shortages in a range of other subjects as well.

Will teacher supply worsen in 2019?

The problem with reports like the one published by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) yesterday is that they don’t help policy makers very much. Headlines of a teacher shortage are nothing new and looking at the position in 2016 doesn’t tell anyone what is happening now and will happen in the 2019 labour market. As I said in yesterday’s blog post, knowing where the hot spots are is a useful piece of extra knowledge, but is that really what the leading think tank on education sees as the best use of its resources?

I promised in my blog about the UCAS data, also published yesterday, to look at trends in August offer numbers. The following table looks at key subjects for this August and the previous two years, as well as the change between 2016 and 2018.

Subject 2016 offers Number of Placed and conditional firm 2017 Number of Placed and conditional firm 2018 Difference 2018 on 2016
ART & DESIGN 635 505 460 -175
BIOLOGY 1305 965 920 -385
BUSINESS STUDIES 205 165 150 -55
CHEMISTRY 965 855 830 -135
CLASSICS 50 55 70 20
COMPUTING 520 520 590 70
DESIGN & TECHNOLOGY 465 315 460 -5
DRAMA 375 350 300 -75
ENGLISH 1825 1855 1890 65
GEOGRAPHY 875 1175 1150 275
HISTORY 920 1135 1070 150
MATHEMATICS 2395 2335 2380 -15
MFL 4470 4530 3850 -620
MUSIC 360 310 280 -80
PHYSICAL EDUCATION 1225 1195 1120 -105
PHYSICS 830 690 680 -150
RELIGIOUS EDUCATION 470 430 380 -90
17890 17385 16580 -1310

Source: UCAS monthly reports, August 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Despite the upward trend in pupil numbers, the trend in the number of offers has been downwards over the past two years. This suggests an even greater ‘crisis’ for schools in the 2019 labour market across some subjects, although the science numbers must be treated with  degree of discretion until the census appears in November due to a change in the method of recording offers by UCAS this year for applications. I doubt that Teach First will be riding to the rescue this year, although we must wait until November to find out their recruitment figures.

We don’t need more geography and history teachers, or last not as many more as have been recruited over the past two years. These offers don’t relate to the Teacher Supply model estimates of numbers needed, but many subjects will again fall short of that number. We will analyses the shortfall when the census appears. For a look at recent years, it is worth consulting the School Teachers’ Review Body’s latest report issued in July or you could look back through the posts on this blog. However, it is also worth remembering that EPI only looked at new entrants and didn’t fully factor in what might be happening with returner numbers, something NfER have been considering in their studies.

Might it be time to revive the posts of regional recruitment managers, used by the Labour government nearly 20 years ago during a previous recruitment crisis? Alternatively, do we need to make the most of the resources available by moving away from a free market? If it is acceptable for academy trusts to move teachers between schools should it not be acceptable to do so on a more national scale?

 

Mixed messages on trainee numbers

The UCAS data on the numbers applying for and accepted for postgraduate teacher preparation courses starting this autumn were published earlier today. Usually, these numbers represent a good guide to the actual numbers likely to be recorded in the DfE’s ITT census, taken shortly after courses have commenced. This year, a change in the manner of how ‘conditional place’ and’ holding offer’ numbers are recorded for applications, but not applicants, compared to previous years has led to a risk that the data may be less reliable as a guide, especially in the three science subjects.

For secondary numbers, the outcome overall looks as if it will be similar to last year, with some subjects doing slightly better than last year and other slightly worse. Overall applicant numbers are very similar to this point last year, just 850 or so down on last year for England; a decline of around two per cent. Hopefully, this means the bottom of the cycle has been reached.

Although there has been a significant recovery in applications for those under the age of 25, numbers in these age groups are still down on last year. The loss is balanced by increases in applications from those over the age of 30. However, these older applicants have not been ‘placed’ to the same extent as last year. But, there are larger numbers in the ‘conditional placed’ and ‘holding offer’ categories that are still in use for applicant numbers, even though they are not included in the applications table for secondary subjects.

Interestingly, it is a late increase in the number of women applicants that has boosted the total. The number of male applicants, at 12,570 overall, is 670 down on the 2017 August figure.

Total number offered a place with or without conditions has increased from 67% of total applicants to 72% this year. No doubt the Minister’s views on the subject, expressed in a speech earlier in the year, may have boosted offer rates.

After allowing for the fact that application numbers are expressed differently to last year, the number likely to be recruited to primary sector courses appears possibly to be around 1,500 fewer than last year according to the numbers in table B.8. This is a lot better than seemed likely the case in the early months of 2018. However, these is a difference of several thousand between this table and the numbers cited for primary course types in Table B.11. Using Table B.8 for secondary, the recorded number of applications has increased from 64,760 to 66,770, between August 2017 and August 2018. However, numbers offered places may be lower than in 2017.

School Direct offers of all types seem to be down, when compared with August 2017, in both the primary and secondary sectors, with just 990 offers for Secondary School Direct Salaried courses compared with 1,130 offers of all types for these places last August. If confirmed in the ITT census this, further reduction will present a real challenge for the future of this Scheme, celebrated by Michael Gove when Secretary of State for Education as the future route for training teachers.

Next month there will be the end of cycle preliminary figures and then nothing until the start of the 2019 recruitment round in November.