Signs of some relief

You can just see the picture from earlier today. A civil servant rushes into Private Office and announces, ‘some good news on teacher recruitment at last!’ There have been 1,000 offers in English over the past two months and the subject is off the danger list, joining geography, history, biology, modern languages and physical education in the category of ‘should meet their targets in 2018, if these numbers are meaningful’.

However, that still leaves a slightly larger group of subjects where accepted applicants to teacher preparation courses won’t be enough to meet predicted need according to the DfE’s modelling process. Time is running out for these subjects and some, such as music and physics, are recording not only levels this month, where the Teacher Supply Model number won’t be met, but the number of offers made are also below the number of offers in July 2017.

Equally of concern is the further drop – compared with 2017 – both in the number of applicants (now down by slightly less than 2,000 on July 2017) and in the number of ‘placed’ applicants.

Although there are more applicants with a ‘conditional place’ than in July last year, there are around 900 fewer ‘placed’ applicants compared with July last year and around 3,000 fewer than in July 2015. This matters, because ‘placed’ applicants are the most likely applicants to turn up when the courses starts. Conditional placed applicants remain slightly more of a risk.

Age Group 2017 2018 Difference
21 and under

430

270

160

22

750

670

80

23

800

690

110

24

640

570

70

25-29

1550

1250

300

30-39

810

720

90

40 and over

610

500

110

All age groups

5590

4670

920

Numbers rounded to nearest ten, so total may reflect that fact.

The decline in ‘placed’ primary applicants in England, to 2,590 from 3,270 is clearly of concern, even though demand for primary teachers may be slackening compared with a couple of years ago as pupil intake numbers start to decline, mostly due to the fall in the birth rate since 2013.

There are only around 60 recorded ‘placed’ candidates in physics this year, compared to around 80 in July 2017. Even in history, ‘placed’ numbers are down from around 280 to around 240 this year. However, there 410 ‘placed’ candidates in biology compared with around 160 last year. This is another rare bit of good news and even figure is partly balanced by a decline in the number of ‘placed’ applicants in ‘science’.

The STRB Report, published earlier this week, showed a decline in the percentage of trainees on School Direct courses in 2017/18 over the previous year. In terms of ‘placed’ applicants, that decline has continued, with School Direct numbers of ‘placed’ candidates on Primary phase courses down from 1,270 to 1,060 and for Secondary phase courses, down from 1,000 to 790, with only around 130 ‘placed’ applicants on School Direct Salaried secondary courses in July this year. By contrast, placed applicants on Secondary phase courses in higher education are actually up this year compared with July 2017, from around 1,340 to around 1,390: another welcome piece of good news. Higher education courses also have more conditionally placed applicants than in July 2017 in the secondary phase, but not in the primary phase.

As we approach the summer season and the start of courses in less than two months’ time, 2018 looks like being another challenging recruitment round and it is possible that the 29th STRB Report in 2019 will have to record the seventh straight year that recruitment targets were not met. Of course, Brexit might change all that: only time will tell.

 

 

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Why teachers are banned

The BBC has published an interesting analysis of the number of teachers barred from the profession over the past few years. You can read Laurence Cawley’s story at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44643267

Creating such a story has been on the list for future posts on this blog, after I commented in December 2016 about the trends in hearing for misconduct by teachers that year. You can read that blog at https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2016/12/

As I pointed out in 2016, men outnumber women in terms of those coming before the Teaching Regulation Agency and also in being barred from teaching and work with young people either for a fixed period or for life. Those barred for a fixed period do not automatically regain the right to teach but, as teaching is still not a reserved occupational term, may presumably still call themselves a teacher if they want to do so. Whether they can work in the less regulated markets of teaching language students or tutoring is an interesting question and how they would be found out if they do so is also a potential issue for debate.

The rules on conduct between teachers and pupils are now very strict and what was acceptable when I started in teaching in the 1970s would now in some cases almost certainly be grounds for being barred for life from the profession. The BBC story says sexually motivated, inappropriate conduct is the reason for a third of teaching bans and goes into some details that you can read on their site by following the link above.

London has the lowest rate of barring per 10,000 teachers. This is possibly because there are a higher percentage of young and more recently trained teachers in London and they are aware of the tightening of the rules, especially in relation to conduct between teachers and their pupils.

I believe that the police still have the responsibility to report anyone who states their occupation as a teacher, if they are involved in a criminal act.  Some of the alcohol cases will have come about because of a drink driving charge, sometimes during the Christmas holiday period.

The BBC story doesn’t look into the trends in severity of outcomes in terms of length or bans received. There is a study to be undertaken to ensure that panels are consistent in their general approach even after acknowledging that the facts of each case are unique.

Requiring high standards of those that are teachers is obviously important and I hope that rigorous checks at the application stage prevent some from entering the profession. That’s one reason why I have always believed that interviews of potential applicants to teaching is a critical part of the process: mere study of a form is not good enough.

A number of the cases in the BBC story were historical in nature when dealt with and it is to be hoped that the caseload of the Agency will fall as more teachers recognise the requirement laid upon them and the standards they need to uphold. However, if an MP can only be banned for 30 days for a failure to declare two holidays, we need to ensure that teachers are not being punished more severely for their transgressions than our lawmakers.

 

Fewer teachers, classroom assistants and technicians

Today is the day that the DfE publishes two important datasets: the results of the 2017 School Workforce Census and the data providing the identification of schools and their characteristics. You can find the details at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics?departments%5B%5D=department-for-education

There are a large number of tables to assimilate, but the DfE helpfully publishes what used to be known as a Statistical Bulletin on the School Workforce data at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/719772/SWFC_MainText.pdf Now it only has a title.

The headline figure is the reduction in staffing levels almost across the board, whether teachers, technicians or classroom assistants. This is the manifestation of the funding issues facing schools that have been well documented both on this blog and elsewhere. As the DfE note states’ ‘The total FTE number of teachers in all schools has fallen by 1.2%’, between November 2016 and November 2017. The note is not totally accurate, because the figure includes centrally employed teachers, but since there are now less than 4,000 of these the latitude in the wording can be overlooked.

There was also a fall in the number of entrants to teaching, meaning that entrants and leavers were both recorded as at 9.9% of the qualified teaching force. This is the first year for some considerable time and probably since the School Workforce Census has been collected at its present November date that entrants into the profession have not exceeded departures as a percentage of the qualified teacher workforce.

As noted in the previous post on this blog, older applicants were taking more training places as younger graduates seem less interested in becoming teachers. The same trend is visible in the workforce data. Table 7b shows a large increase in departures among teachers in the 25-44 age brackets and especially among the key 25-34 age group where just over 14,000 were recorded as leaving compared with just 10,400 of this age group in 2011. Are we losing the leaders of tomorrow and where are they going? Are international schools tempting them overseas with better pay and easier working conditions?

Although much is made of working conditions and workload, teacher absence rates still continue to fall as Table 16 reveals. There was a one per cent rise in the percentage of teachers taking sickness absence, but the total days lost was the lowest for many a year.

After some years when the match between teachers’ qualifications ad subject expertise had been improving, there was something of a setback between 2017 and 2018 in some subjects. This may be due to the increasing challenge in recruitment into training and can be expected to show further declines in key subjects when the next set of data are published next June. In 2017 among EBacc subjects, only German and ‘other’ Modern Languages saw an improvement in the percentage of hours taught by a teacher with a relevant post A level qualification. Spanish and Chemistry recorded no change.

Now that secondary pupil numbers are on the increase and primary numbers are falling among the entry age groups, it is likely that we will see more rebalancing of the teacher workforce over the next few years. Unless funding improves, it also seems likely that more support staff will also lose their jobs as schools strive to protect teaching posts.

A thank you to Schools of Education

Michael Gove didn’t like Schools of Education in Universities. He effectively set out to reduce their leading role in teacher education and especially their role in training new teachers. He wasn’t alone in that regard among Conservative Secretaries of State for Education. Mr Gove took the decision to create the two School Direct routes – fee based and salaried – to replace the former Graduate Teacher Training Route (GTTP) that had been operating for just over a decade as a replacement for earlier schemes designed to help alleviate teacher shortages; he also decided to allow Teach First to expand.

I recall a meeting in Whitehall with David Laws, when he was Minister of State during the coalition, where I explained that the policy then in operation would have effectively destroyed many higher education secondary teacher preparation courses, especially where they were not under-pinned by a large primary cohort, because they would simply not have been economic to run.

Had all the requests from schools that year for arts and humanities places been accepted, there is no doubt in my mind that there would have been considerable changes in the landscape of university provision across England and possibly course and even department closures. Fortunately, increasing secondary pupil numbers and a degree of common sense, plus I suspect a degree of lobbying by others more influential than myself, meant that the doomsday scenario for higher education didn’t come to pass.

So what has happened over the past four years in terms of the percentages of applications via the different routes? The month of May is a good time to consider this question as, although universities and most SCITTs remain open all year for applications, some schools tend to close their books with the end of their summer term. As a result, the data for the end of the year may be skewed in favour of higher education providers. I was also asked the question by a course provider in response to yesterday’s post ‘a sigh of relief’.

So here are the percentages for applications in May over the past four years, as derived from the UCAS monthly data reports.

Primary 2015 2016 2017 2018
HE 51 45 48 47
SCITT 8 9 9 10
SDFEE 24 27 25 25
SDSAL 17 19 18 18
Secondary 2015 2016 2017 2018
HE 51 47 50 52
SCITT 8 10 11 12
SDFEE 29 31 29 28
SDSAL 12 12 9 7

Source; UCAS Monthly data reports on ITT – percentage of applications

The key point to note is the different position of higher education in the two sectors. In the primary sector, schools have been adding market share in terms of applications every year since 2015, although the School Direct Fee route seems to have stalled this year. Some of the change may be due to the reduction of new women graduates looking to train as a primary teacher, as the decline in their numbers may have dis-proportionally affected higher education providers. It is worth noting that in May 2015 there were just over 49,000 applications for primary courses, compared with just 38,100 in May 2018.

In the secondary sector, as numbers applying have reduced, so higher education has started to regain market share, reaching 52% in May 2018. The big decline is in School Direct Salaried – down from 12% of applications to seven per cent in 2018. Had SCITTs not taken up part of the decline, higher education might now have an even larger market share of the just under 47,000 applications this year. This compares to more than 53,000 applications to secondary courses in May 2015.

Without higher education and its willingness to train teachers and to fight for the right to do so, our schools  might now be in an even worse situation than they find themselves in when trying to recruit new teachers.

it is a salutatory lesson to politicians such as myself that we need to look not only at the immediate consequences of our actions, but also ensure resilience for the longer-term. That isn’t an argument for never changing anything, but for being aware of the consequences of our actions. A new system would have emerged from any collapse of existing higher education providers, but would it have been worth the pain and turmoil?

 

 

Not very ambitious

I understand that the Secretary of State is going to tell the NAHT Conference of another plan for sabbaticals for teachers as part of a retention drive to keep teachers from leaving. Dangling the odd carrot here and there isn’t the same as having a comprehensive policy for the training and development of the teaching profession.

I looked back through this blog and saw what I wrote in a post on the 17th April 2013 – it is still there and readable https://johnohowson.wordpress.com/2013/04/17/mrs-thatcher-as-education-secretary/ The post was written following the death of Mrs Thatcher. Her time as Education Secretary, best known for ending school milk also contained the excellent 1972 White Paper from which the following extract is taken:

Teacher Training and Professional Development

The Government propose to work towards the achievement of a graduate teaching profession. During probation teachers should receive the kind of help and support needed to make the induction process both more effective and less daunting than it has been in the past. Also they should be released for not less than one-fifth of their time for in-service training. For the remainder of their time probationer teachers would be serving in schools, but with a somewhat lightened timetable, so that altogether they might be expected to undertake three-quarters of a full teaching load. The Government propose to give effect to the James Committee’s recommendation that teachers should be released for in-service training for periods equivalent to one term in every 7 years of service. It is their aim that a substantial expansion of such training should begin in the school year 1974–75 and should continue progressively so that by 1981 3 per cent of teachers could be released on secondment at any one time. This involves a four-fold increase in present opportunity.

(my emphasis in bold)

Of course apart from the first point it didn’t happen as planned, because the Oil Crisis at the end of 1972 plunged the country into recession and the hamstrung Labour government of 1974-79 wasn’t able to move the ideas forward. But, there were ambitious targets for the whole profession. For much of this century, successive governments have neglected the professional development of the teaching force and much more is need that is currently on offer from Mr Hinds.

I gather that Bath Spa University has also decided to pay a scholarship of £500 to all its students joining teacher preparation courses next September in recognition of the costs of such courses. I applaud this action, but would rather the government returned to a training grant for all postgraduates in training as a teacher. Stand up to the Treasury Mr Hinds and point out that we need teachers and present policies aren’t working. A thriving modern economy depends upon a successful education service and you cannot achieve that end if you fail to recruit enough teachers.

Scap the work on a new vacancy service for teachers and use the cash saved for more support for trainee teachers. Then use the power of the profession and the many organisations within it to create the free service TeachVac has pioneered at no cost to the DfE. That way ‘all could be winners’.

 

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.

 

 

 

Is London leading the teacher job market in 2018?

Will the STRB have to take a long hard look at where teachers are needed when deciding how to make the pay award this year? I ask this question because TeachVac www.teachvac.co.uk, the free to use recruitment site that matches vacancies for teachers with applicants, where I am the Chair, can reveal the importance of London in the teacher job market during the first quarter of 2018.

According to DfE statistics, in January 2017, London schools taught some 16% of the nation’s children educated in state-funded schools. The assumption might be that these schools might require a similar proportion of the nation’s teachers.

There are several challenges to this assumption. Firstly, more teachers may be required because pupil rolls are rising faster in London that elsewhere in the country, especially in the secondary sector. Secondly, London, as a region, educates more children in independent schools than other regions. While London accounts for some 16% of children in state-funded schools, it accounts for 26% of those educated privately in recognised independent schools. As such schools generally have smaller classes and larger numbers of post-16 pupils than many comprehensive schools, their presence will probably increase the demand for teachers needed to work in London. TeachVac handles vacancies from both state and private schools. Thirdly, teachers in London may be more prone to either move around or move out of teaching: including going to teach overseas.

So what did TeachVac find during the first quarter of 2018?

Recorded main scale vacancies placed by secondary schools January – end of March 2018

London England % Vacancies in London
Business 110 355 31%
Music 68 244 28%
RE 75 301 25%
Social Sciences 55 227 24%
Geography 142 595 24%
PE 87 382 23%
Science 500 2229 22%
History 92 412 22%
IT 75 358 21%
Languages 195 936 21%
Art 54 278 19%
Total 2379 12423 19%
Mathematics 318 1813 18%
English 274 1566 17%
Design & Technology 62 454 14%
Humanities 16 129 12%

Source TeachVac.co.uk

As far as the levels of vacancies for main scale teaching posts in the secondary sector are concerned, London schools seem to be advertising more vacancies than might be expected, even allowing for the higher than average number of pupils in private sector schools.

The most interesting feature of the table is how it is the smaller subjects where the relative demand is highest in London. In English and mathematics, London’s share of the national vacancy total is possibly even below what might be expected, given the percentage of pupils in the private sector. I think this may be explained by the significant presence of Teach First in London schools and the importance of both these subjects to the Teach First programme. On the other hand, the subjects at the top of the table mostly do not feature so prominently in the Teach First programme: perhaps they should.

April is the key month for recruitment at this grade, and TeachVac has already experienced a bumper start to the post-Easter period, even though many schools are officially on holiday. TeachVac can link every vacancy on its site to a job posted by a school. The TeachVac site contains no vacancies from agencies or other sources, a factor, as the Migration Advisory Committee found some years ago, resulting in an inflation of the figures to a point where they can become almost meaningless. As a ‘closed site’ that only sends jobs to registered applicants TeachVac also cannot be browsed by those wanting to extract a finder fee from schools.

Finally, it seems as if the DfE may launch a trial of their own service later this month. do test TeachVac at the same time and with the same parameters and let me know how TeachVac measures up to the DfE’s millions of pounds of expenditure on the project?