32,500 Teachers by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Are all your staffing vacancies full for the new academic year?

This is a blog about the landscape of Initial Teacher Training in England; with a short insight into funding strategies and recruitment. In my first year as deputy headteacher, I have been working on staffing personnel, covering a wide variety of issues from cover, absence and recruitment. As the end of the year draws to a close, I am pleased to report that we are fully staffed. To be able to achieve this took a great deal of energy and focus throughout February to June 2015. Constant HR (Human Resources) updates; contracts; negotiations; interviews; applications and communications between many parties. It is has been a fascinating insight into the workings of leading a school with over 200 people.

Where my key concerns rest, are with initial teacher training, recruitment agencies and funding arrangements from the DfE. I will try to provide a snapshot of each in this blog.

1. Initial Teacher Training:

As reported in @SchoolsWeek in December 2014; “In September of this year, about 32,500 people started on one of the main initial teacher training route… with a shift from provider-led training, such as that led by universities, to school-led training – something that the government has actively promoted.” (Source)

“Overall, the government recruited 93 per cent of its target figure this year – down on 94 per cent last year, and 98 per cent the year before.”

Schools Week Initial Teacher Training
Image: Schools Week

What is more alarming, is despite no-change on education funding by the Conservatives, we have increased pricing on the high street, higher pension and national insurance contributions to be paid by employers; set against increased student populations whilst those entering into the profession decreases. Go figure!

Schools Week Initial Teacher TrainingImage: Schools Week

In this document by N.Sheldon (November 2010), an analysis of Teacher Numbers 1960s to present day is offered. These figures cover UK schools, not England alone.

“the expansion of teacher training colleges in the 1950s and 60s can be seen from the figures of those commencing training each year – rising from 20,980 in 1958 to 48,472 in 1967.” Sheldon later goes on to explain “during the 1970s, the numbers entering training fell from a high of 53,000 in 1972 to only 18,900 in 1980. Entrant numbers continued to be restricted by the Government during the 1980s. The decline was mainly in the undergraduate numbers whereas postgraduate one-year entrants remained at around 5,500. Total numbers in training peaked in 1972 at 130,407, reducing to 35,800 by 1980. The lowest level was 32,600 in 1984 with a recovery of numbers to 35,000 by 1985 and 48,800 by 1990.”

Finally and most recently offered for comparison with today’s figures;

“entrants to training college gradually rose during the 1990s, from 25,700 in 1990 to 33,400 in 1993, but then stabilised around 29,000 per year. Numbers on course likewise rose and fell, from 48,800 in 1990-1, then peaking at 65,000 in 1993-4 before falling back slightly in 1995-6 to 58,800. The peak year for completions was 1994-5 with 29,000 new teachers emerging from training.

Later, data available for number of teacher training places available show there were 23,245 places available in 1990/1 with a rise to 30,600 in 1998/99 then a slight fall back for a couple of years, followed by a surge in training places to 34,675 in 2003/04 – the peak year for training places was 2008/09 with 36,845 places available. The discrepancy in figures given for the mid-1990s may represent the initial impact of alternative routes into teaching. There has been more expansion in the number of primary training places in 2008-10, probably due to the increase in the birth rate in the early-2000s.”

2. Recruitment Agencies:

In my first year, I have discovered the supply agencies are creaming off new recruits to keep them on ‘their books.’ I’ve also discovered that the worst of agencies are directly contacting our staff and luring them into false promises of work and responsibility. In even worse scenarios, these recruits are promised one-day’s pay, even on working days where they do not receive any work! This ‘arrangement’ is quickly stopped in the first instance a supply teacher ‘refuses’ to accept any deployment to any school.

Can you imagine? You are new to the UK; desperately wanting income and experience in a school; and you are asked to commute to the roughest and toughest schools in the country over 1-2 hours away from where you live? And for one-days work! I remember in my first year of teaching refusing to do this when I started supply teaching in 1997.

A stroke of genius on our part this year, has been to set up a database tracking negotiations; daily rates; discussions and contact details. This has allowed us to be able to share data to each other instantly, as well as have information ready to hand when speaking with ‘agents’ over the phone or by email. As a result, I have managed to reduce the rates of a daily supply teacher from £225 per day, down to £150 per day with agencies who we have a trusted relationships with. What has been even more fascinating, is the cash figure that the agencies keep and how much actually reaches the teachers’ pockets! If the agency won’t tell me, I tend to look out for the supply teachers we regularly employ, by asking them how much the agency are paying them to ensure that they are being treated fairly. Although I do not want to undermine the agency, it is in our interests to ensure the member of staff is supported as an employee (whether short or long term), as well as financially.

3. Funding:

The images shared by @ASCL_UK at the School Business Leaders Conference last month shows ‘the future level of education spending’ year on year. It looks down year-on-year to me!

ASCL Business Manager Funding DfE

Every headteacher I have spoken to does not say this is a great time to be balancing the books. Many schools will be working with 1-10% less annual budgets in 2015/16. In the past two schools I have worked in, we have seen at least £500,000 deficit to be recouped due to admissions regulations and changes to the funding agreements of pupil premium students; made worse by government changes to the (benefits) criteria being increased, resulting in many families being unable to claim for pupil premium support where they may have been able to do so previously. This has had an impact on school budgets; staffing and resources.

This image below provides a very interesting tale. It says, that despite various expenditure per pupil for pupil premium, it show a small tolerance (47%-68%) in overall A*-C performance. This image will make many headteachers’ blood boil! Screen Shot 2015-07-14 at 22.51.01

With all this interesting data to hand, it does very little to suggest that school leaders are working in strong climate for teaching and learning. If the picture remains this bleak, do we really expect another 32,500 teachers to sign up to teach in September 2016? It’s only going to get harder …

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5 thoughts on “32,500 Teachers by @TeacherToolkit

  1. By getting the daily supply teachers rate reduced you are probalbly cutting the wages paid to the supply teacher. I went on supply to a school, only to be told by the agency that the school wouldn’t pay the rate I’d had the week before. Turned out that the school had signed some kind of deal with the agency. The school got a good daily rate, but it hit the supply teacher in the pocket!

    1. I understand that. Typically agencies take minimum £50 from overall rate. Happy to pay much more for resulted agency and great/reliable supply who are long term. One-off is a different story and this is what I am referencing …

  2. A timely article. The 5 day a week guarantee has been suggested by one agency. I will be asking if it has geographical limits before signing up in Sept.

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