More evidence that London is different

In a previous post about the DfE’s evidence to the Teachers’ Pay Review Body (STRB) in 2019 I mentioned that the DfE cited that the wastage rate for Inner London schools was 14% in 2017. This was the highest for any area in England.

After reflecting upon this statistic, I went back to the data in the School Workforce Census to see whether high wastage rates were confined to specific schools or a more general matter for concern? The basic data on the Census, as it appears on the DfE’s web site, doesn’t allow that question to be answered. The DfE provides information on vacancies and temporarily filled posts at the school level, but not wastage rates. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2017

Percentage of schools in the region reporting a vacancy (%) Percentage of schools in the region reporting either a vacancy or a temporarily filled post (%)
REGION  
 
North East 3.2 9.1
North West 2.6 9.4
Yorkshire and the Humber 3.4 11.0
East Midlands 2.9 8.2
West Midlands 3.4 11.3
East of England 3.2 12.0
Inner London 5.3 22.5
Outer London 4.1 24.8
South East 3.8 12.2
South West 2.2 7.4
 
ENGLAND 3.3 11.9
School Workforce Census 2017    

Looking at the table abstracted above, from the 2017 School Workforce Census, it seems that around twice as many schools in Inner London reported a vacancy in November 2017 as did schools in the North West region. The gap was even wider between those London schools and schools in the South West.

Once the percentage of schools reporting a temporarily filled post in the November Census was added in, the gap between schools in London and the South West was even greater. Now, it just may be that there are more temporary posts in London than other regions because more teachers are on maternity leave in London than elsewhere in England. Since London does tend to attract many teachers at the start of their careers, this is indeed a possibility. However, the size of the gap does seem to call into question whether this is the only reason for such a large difference.

Taken together with the wastage figure, it does seem that schools, and especially a small number of secondary schools in London, were facing a problem with staffing at a time of year when schools would expect to be fully staffed.

Previous staffing crises have been based upon data that was collected in January, the census date before the School Workforce Census was introduced. However, if the current census covers the whole period from November to November that change of date would not be an issue. Should the data only relate to the situation at the time of the census, it would be or more concern, as the consequences of departures of any staff at the end of December would not be captured in the data.

What are the implications for the STRB if schools in London were finding the staffing situation challenging in 2017. The STRB will certainly want to know whether the early returns from the 2018 Census reflect any improvements or whether the situation has deteriorated further. If the DfE is unable to answer that question, then I am sure that the teacher associations and others providing evidence will be able to do so.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk has consistently reported that London schools top the list of schools advertising the most vacancies.

With separate London pay scales, will the STRB look to increase them more than the national scale this year? Only time will tell.

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At least one alarm bell is ringing

The demands associated with employing new staff for TeachVac means that I have been a little delayed in catching up with the DfE’s latest submission to the Pay Review Body (the STRB).  This document is more than just an instruction on how much teachers working in school probably should be paid according to the government. It also brings together lots of other useful data about the workforce in our schools.

This year, the document can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/evidence-to-the-strb-2019-pay-award-for-school-staff and probably the scariest figure in the document is buried on page 44, where there is a table on wastage rates for the teaching profession. According to the 2017 School Workforce Census wastage at that point was 14% among classroom teachers employed in Inner London schools. I make that one almost one in seven teachers in London quit. If that isn’t including turnover, but just those leaving the School Workforce Census it frightening, but even if it is all departures, including those taking a job in another London school, the figure is still pretty scare, especially since this is the average.

TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk has consistently provided data for this blog showing London schools creating the highest percentage of vacancies per school. Indeed, so far in 2019, London schools are averaging around two vacancies per school according to TeachVac. It is worth noting that London is in an area where Teach First supplies a significant number of teachers, without their help the numbers would undoubtedly be even higher.

By contrast, in the rest of the county, wastage among classroom teachers is around the 10% mark. High, but manageable if supply is sufficient. The fact that in the secondary sector, (and the wastage figures aren’t separated into primary and secondary sector figures), recruitment into teacher preparation courses continues to fall short of need, as demonstrated in table 10 on page 48 of the document for EBacc subjects, is a cause for concern.

The figure for entrants into state schools in 2017, shown in the table on page 43, was just 23,300 teachers across both primary and secondary sector. This is 2,800 fewer teachers the peak of 26,100 reached in 2016. Again the DfE don’t break this number down in the STRB submission between those entering the primary and secondary sectors. I assume the STRB can ask for this data?

Much of the rest of the document puts the best possible gloss on a deteriorating situation. DfE officials have been required to undertake that task on many previous occasions and I am sure, having myself appeared before the STRB on several occasions that its members are well equipped to dig beneath the surface if the teacher associations don’t bring the missing data to their attention.

Finally, a little bit of history. In 2002, when wastage rates were collected in January not November, the total wastage rate calculated from the Database of Teacher Records was 9.9%, the second highest level since 1992. The highest wastage rate was 10.1% in 1998, but that may have been artificially inflated by departures ahead of a significant change to the pension scheme. Sadly, the DfE’s evidence to the STRB in 2019 doesn’t provide an overall national figure for the period November 2016 to November 2017, but I am sure that someone will provide the STRB with the figure.

 

 

More pay: fewer teachers: worse PTRs?

The 28th Report of the School Teachers Pay Review Body, published earlier today, provides a great summary of many of the points made on this blog over the past year. There are some good tables and graphs that summarise the situation regarding pay, recruitment and retention very well overall. However, the STRB might have looked at the primary sector in more detail, rather than just regarding it as a sector with a uniform set of issues. Data on leadership trends is also a bit on the thin side, which is surprising given that both associations representing school leaders are consultees and commented on concerns about recruitment.

The big issue arising from the Report is the extent to which schools will be able to afford the pay rise both for teachers and that to support and ancillary staff as well. As I suggested in my earlier post, before the report appeared, the settlement is going to cost schools real money. A secondary school with 60 teachers can expect an increase of perhaps between £70,000- £100,000 on its pay bill once on-costs have been taken into account. That’s a couple of classroom teachers or a review of the senior management team and perhaps one fewer deputy head and more reliance on assistant heads and teachers with TLRs?

I note that the STRB made the point, as I did earlier today, about the timing of their reports and the budgetary cycle in schools. How much did business managers put in the budget for this pay increase? Judging by the number of vacancies in the secondary sector so far this year, probably not as much as has been awarded in at least some schools.

How will the independent sector respond to this increase? This year saw the first reported decline in enrolments in their schools in the published DfE data on schools and pupils. Will it be possible to raise fees to cover the increases or might those schools be constrained in the increases on offer?

As I suggested in the earlier post, changes in recruitment on to teacher preparation courses as a result of the pay increase won’t be apparent until the 2020 recruitment round for new teachers. By then, secondary schools will be well into their growth cycle.

There is a very interesting chart on page 47 of the STRB Report showing the proportion of postgraduate entrants by different routes into teaching for 2016/17 and 2017/18. The DfE in their evidence stated that  2017/18 was the third successive year in which over half of recruitment to postgraduate ITT was to school-led routes, with such routes accounting for 53% of ITT recruitment in that year. (Para 2.13) The chart shows that although true, there was a decline in 2017/18 compared with the previous year in the percentage of trainees on school-led routes.

Finally, it is always difficult to proof read documents prepared at the last minute, as some of the posts on this blog bear testimony. However, the footnote 3 on page 12 suggests a degree of wishful thinking.

Portents on pay

Will today’s announcement on teachers’ pay end the shortage of teachers in some of our schools? Not this year, as the announcement has come too late to affect recruitment on to teacher preparation courses, except possibly at the margins. The latest UCAS data should appear on Thursday and will provide a good guide to the supply side of the teacher labour market in 2019, at least as far as new entrants are concerned. A decent pay settlement may tempt back some leavers from the profession, but, again, probably not enough to make any real difference.

The big change in response to the pay settlement may come on the demand side of the labour market equation. Let’s assume that the Treasury won’t fully fund the pay settlement, leaving either the DfE to find more cash or schools to decide how to make use of the cash they have. This could mean a reduction in demand for teachers next year as a funds are directed towards paying the remaining staff more and those leaving are not replaced.

In passing, it is worth noting that leaving the outcome of the Review Bodies Reports until July is really unhelpful in terms of making meaningful budgets for both academies with their new financial year starting with the new school term and even local authorities where maintained schools still operate their budgets on the April to March financial year.

Since academies and free schools can set their own pay and conditions, it is entirely possible that some schools or MATs might choose to ignore the Pay Review Body Report and try to go it alone, by not paying the proposed increase. The Secretary of State has to approve the recommendation of the Pay Review Body – not doing so seems highly unlikely, especially if the pain can be passed to schools to deal with in human terms.

However, this will be the first big test of the Secretary of State. How far will he be able to stand up to the Treasury and gain any extra cash for schools? It is worth recalling that he was a member of the Education Select Committee that published the report: Great Teachers: attracting, training and retaining and best, so he is fully aware of the arguments about teacher supply. Indeed, I recall providing both written and oral evidence to the Committee during their deliberations on the subject.

Indeed, it is worth recalling this exchange I had with Mr Hinds during the oral questioning in November 2011 when teacher supply was less of a concern than it is now.

Howson … society as a whole has to decide where it wants to put teaching in terms of competition for graduates. (Q148 answer)

Q149 Damian Hind: Gosh – most people would say that teaching should be very near the top. McKinsey, BCG and Goldman Sachs can fight their own battles, but in society we want teaching to be very high up the list of priorities, don’t we?

Professor Howson: Then this Committee must recommend the Government takes actions to achieve that. As someone has already said, pay may well be one of those actions.

HC 1515-11 published 25th April 2012

Regular readers of this blog will know what has happened to both teachers’ pay and teacher supply since 2012.

 

Pay flexibilities for teachers

According to the DfE’s evidence to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB) only 64%, just fewer than two out of three schools, pay any of their staff Teaching & Learning Responsibility allowances (TLRs as they are usually known). I guess that most of the remaining nearly 8,000 or so schools are mostly small primary schools, with only a handful of teachers and a head teacher?

Interestingly, some of these schools may be making other payments, as the DfE record that 75.2% of all schools make some form of payment to some of their teaching staff. Indeed, there are more schools making ‘other payments’ than are using the SEN payments allowed under the teacher’s contract. Less than one in five school now make any such SEN payment to teachers.

Even less common, despite all the talk about a recruitment crisis, is the use of recruitment and retention payments to teachers; only one in ten schools across England makes such a payment. However, the percentage does rise to one in five schools in the Inner London area – That’s not technically a region and the DfE evidence doesn’t define what it means by Inner London and whether it is pay area or some other definition. By contrast, only one in twenty schools in the South West makes any payments to a teacher or teachers for recruitment and retention reasons.

Do schools make use of HMRC exemptions from tax for new employees? (https://www.gov.uk/expenses-and-benefits-relocation/whats-exempt). This allowance can be helpful to those teachers and school leaders moving to a new part of the country. Such payments would, presumably, be reported in the ‘other payments’ column of the  DfE’s evidence along with season ticket loans, any health benefits and car allowances to teachers in teaching schools or providing ITT support that have to travel between schools.

None of these extra payments can hide the fact that the teachers’ contract looks increasingly out of line with modern day employment practices. As I pointed out last year, Labour’s idea of more bank holidays might have placed some of the new dates within school holidays so that teachers and others employed in schools wouldn’t have seen any benefit. Regular surveys and diary studies have shown that teachers work very hard during the time children are in school and aren’t paid for that overtime. Should it be counted against school-holidays in a more formal manner than at present in order to allow a meaningful discussion about the feeling of some in the population that teachers still enjoy long holidays?

Perhaps the STRB might want to think what their responsibility is in this debate? Do they need to wait to be asked or can they discuss the issue as part of their consideration of recruitment and retention issues? There is lots of evidence for the OECD about teachers working patterns around the world. The issue has resonance because of the growing appreciation that more provision should be made for teachers’ professional development. Adding CPD to the existing workload without considering what might disappear to allow for the extra study would not really be very helpful.

 

2% for all main scale teachers

Yesterday, the School Teachers Pay Review Body published its report and recommendations to the government. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/626156/59497_School_Teachers_Review_Accessible.pdf as expected, the STRB felt bound by the remit letter it had received from government. As a result, its conclusions didn’t breech the government’s stated policy of a one per cent cap on public sector pay: no real surprise there. However, the STRB’s recommendations did contain one suggestion for higher pay to the maximum and minimum of the main pay range.

STRB’s 2017 Recommendations

For September 2017, we recommend:

  • A 2% uplift to the minimum and maximum of the main pay range (MPR);
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the upper pay range (UPR), the unqualified teacher pay range and the leading practitioner pay range;
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the leadership group pay range and all head teacher group pay ranges; and,
  • A 1% uplift to the minima and maxima of the Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) and Special Educational Needs (SEN) allowance ranges.

If accepted, these recommendations will lead to some teachers receiving a higher pay rise than others, notably those on the top of the main scale, but not having progressed through to the higher pay scales. Now since many, if not most academies don’t have to stick to the national pay scales, this provides an interesting opportunity for the teacher associations to flex their muscle and demand a 2% rise on the main scale for all teachers not covered by the mandatory national pay scales. If achieved, it would put pressure on the government either to offer the same deal to other teachers across the sector or risk teacher recruitment and retention issues becoming worse outside the academy sector.

The data in the STRB Report suggests that most schools can carry an extra one per cent on their main scale teacher’s pay bill by dipping into reserves. Yes, a hoped for building project might be delayed by a year, but many teachers would feel that their financial situation is being taken seriously.

Is it in the interests of the teacher associations to take this line or to hold out for more for everyone at some point in the future? That’s their judgement call, but I think the two per cent for all main scale teachers demonstrates that they do more on the pay front than just argue the case with the STRB and are indeed prepared to take on a weak government playing a poor hand on public sector pay.

To compensate, I would argue for bringing MAT chief officers pay within the overall cap. It is surely wrong to cap the pay of workers but let the bosses set their own take from public money, albeit sanctioned by their boards.

There is plenty of evidence within the STRB report of recruitment problems, but having waited so long to publish the STRB might have updated some charts with the evidence from the 2016 School Workforce Census rather than relying on 2015 that charted the recruitment round for September two years ago.

1% pay rise for most teachers likely in 2016

The main teacher associations have now submitted their joint evidence to the School Teachers Review Body (STRB). This follows the publication of the DfE’s evidence to the STRB just before Christmas, although it is dated November 2015. The date is significant, since it presumably allows the DfE to ignore the evidence from the 2015 ITT census and instead rely upon the School Workforce Census taken in 2014 along with the 2014 ITT census as the most up to date information they have on the workforce in schools and in training.

I assume that the STRB could ask for supplementary evidence or commission their own secretariat to update the DfE’s data if it isn’t in the associations’ evidence. The STRB can also look further at the vacancy figures, as they have done in the past.

Nevertheless, the trends and pressures in the system are visible from the evidence that is available and have largely also been rehearsed in front of the Select Committee over the past couple of months.

One chart that struck me in the DfE’s evidence was Figure 10 on page 43. It may be no accident that the East of England and the South East were the two regions with the largest mean and median negative salary differences between classroom teacher salaries and private sector graduate professional salaries. As TeachVac www.teachvac.com has revealed, along with London, these are the two regions where teacher recruitment is at its most challenging.

If the net effect of high pay overall for graduates is to drive up the cost of services in these areas then a one per cent pay rise for teachers will have the most effect on recruitment in these areas. One solution would be to review the boundaries of the extra-national pay areas to extend them out beyond London. It is worth noting that the mean difference was negative across all regions in 2014/15 and it was only the median that was positive for teachers, and in just four regions, the North East, North West, Yorkshire & the Humber and the West Midlands. In the other five regions both the mean and median were negative for teachers’ salaried when compared with the private sector. Apparently, this is due to some graduates earning very high salaries, although this seems less likely in the Home Counties than in Inner London.

It is also not clear why the DfE had to resort to using resignation and early retirement data from the whole of the public sector in Figure 4 rather than using data from the School Workforce Census just for the teaching profession? Could it be that the resignations data looks more favourable across the whole of the public sector than just for the teaching profession? However, with so many young women in teaching – Figure 6 suggest around 30% of the classroom teacher workforce was below 30 in November 2013 (sic) and 74% of these were women – resignations as a result of starting a family are likely to be above the long-term average.

What is also clear from the DfE evidence is the concentration on the EBacc subjects, in some cases to the complete exclusion of data on other subjects. The STRB might like to ask the DfE to remedy this short-comings since they are responsible for the pay of all teachers and not just those in the EBacc subjects.

One relatively new idea from the DfE is to allow schools to extend the concept of a season ticket loan to also cover a loan to teachers for a deposit on rental properties through what is known as a salary sacrifice scheme. This might help attract new teachers into some areas providing the cost of repayments plus the monthly rent wasn’t so high as to still be off-putting at current salary levels. Indeed, the government might put pressure on landlords to reduce the level of deposits required.

The DfE on behalf of the government make much of the need for public sector pay restraint all the way through the remainder of this parliament and their view that overall pay increases should be capped at 1% until 2020.

The associations may well be worried by Figures 8 & 9 in the DfE evidence that show academies with lower median salaries than maintained schools. This is headed average salaries although the DfE haven’t used the mean as the measure of central tendency. Could it be that academies use more unqualified teachers and Teach first trainees and this is bringing down their median salary or is their retention rate worse than I maintained schools? This evidence is contained in the School Workforce Census and the STRB might like to ask more about what the evidence reveals.

Overall, there isn’t much new data since the DfE has used mostly data already in the public domain. However, I would be surprised if the STRB did more than warn about teacher supply on this evidence unless the associations have made a much stronger case. Expect the one per cent overall to be announced for 2016, even if it is nuanced in favour of some groups.