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How satisfied are teachers in England with their pay? It depends upon the perspective you take

Blog Editor, IOE Digital19 June 2019

John Jerrim.

Pay is a key concern of teachers in England. It is one of the key aspects of their employment conditions, with previous research suggesting that pay is closely linked to the recruitment and retention of teachers.

At the same time, teacher pay is an area where there has been a lot of change in recent years. Reforms were introduced in 2013 that reduced the link between teachers’ pay and their length of service, while also giving schools more freedom to set starting salaries. Moreover, up to 2018 the public sector pay cap was in place, limiting annual salary increases of teachers in England to one percent.

This then begs the question, how satisfied are teachers in England with their pay? Evidence from TALIS 2018  provides important new evidence on this issue. (more…)

‘Loss of self’ and the accountability culture: why teachers are leaving the profession at a worrying rate

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 April 2019

Jane Perryman

I used to be a teacher and, like so many others, I left the profession. Perhaps this is why I’m so interested in finding out more about the long-standing problem of teacher attrition. Why do so many qualified teachers continue to leave within five years, internationally and in the UK?

Today I am presenting data at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), from a survey of the past five years of UCL’s alumni database (around 3,500), which we have used to find out who had left the profession, who had stayed, and why. Of the participants, 18% had already left teaching, and from their responses, we predict a potential ten-year attrition rate of 40%.

For those who had left, the reasons given were to improve work/life balance (75%), workload (71%), and a target-driven culture (57%). The same reasons were given by those intending to leave. The data spoke to a discourse of disappointment. Participants found the reality of teaching worse than expected, and the nature of the workload, (more…)

Teacher shortages: are a handful of schools a big part of the problem?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital21 February 2018

Sam Sims and Rebecca Allen. 
 We recently met a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), let’s call her Ellen, who had been delighted to get their first teaching job in a North London primary school deemed outstanding by Ofsted. She arrived on the first day of term looking forward to the challenge of teaching, but by lunchtime it dawned on her that the school had lost 100% of its classroom teaching staff since the previous academic year. At the time, she wondered what could have happened to make all these teachers leave.
She soon found out however, as she spent the next year being pressured into an unsustainable workload and subjected to highly bureaucratic and, at times, callous management. At the end of the year, all the classroom teaching staff left the school. Many of them, including Ellen, left the state education sector altogether.
We wanted to know whether this was an isolated anecdote or a more widespread
problem. So in our paper for the February issue of the National Institute Economic Review we use (more…)

Transforming teaching as a career choice: what would be on your wish list?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital11 December 2017

IOE Events.
Next up in our ‘What if…’ debates series was the matter of the teaching profession: What if… we wanted to transform teaching as a career choice?. To address this question we had union and think tank representatives in the form of Mary Bousted and Jonathan Simons, and international perspectives from Professor Martin Mills of the University of Queensland (and incoming Director of the IOE’s new Centre for Research on Teachers and Teaching) and Lucy Crehan, author of Cleverlands.
That there is a pressing problem with recruitment to and retention in teaching has become all too evident. Recruitment targets for initial teacher training courses have now been missed for five years in a row, while head teachers have been increasingly vocal about (more…)

TIMSS 2015: do teachers and leaders in England face greater challenges than their international peers?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 November 2017

Toby Greany and Christina Swensson. 
This is the third in a series of blogs that delve below the headline findings from the 2015 Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS)[1]. In this blog, we focus on how the perceptions of teachers and school leaders in England compare with those of their peers in other countries.
Just under 300 English primary and secondary schools took part in TIMSS 2015. The headteachers of these schools, as well as the mathematics and science teachers of randomly selected Year 5 and year 9 classes, were asked to complete a background questionnaire asking their views on a range of issues. Given the way teachers were selected to participate in TIMSS, their responses do not present a representative view of all teachers and headteachers in England. Therefore, we compare the findings from TIMSS with findings from (more…)

Is the solution to the teacher supply crisis already in our classrooms?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital10 June 2016

Rob Webster. 
This week, The Economist carried an article on how education systems globally are improving the quality of teaching by looking inside “the ‘black box of the production process’ – or what others might call the classroom’.” It concludes with the line: “The answer, after all, was in the classroom”.
The classroom, it seems, is where many other solutions to other dilemmas lie – including how education in England will transform itself into a self-improving, school-led system. The recent white paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, pulls no punches in setting out an agenda for systemic change. As Chris Husbands writes, it’s a plan that will usher in “a radical new education structure”, much of which was put in place by Ms Morgan’s Conservative forebears.
Small state conservatism demands that schools alone become the drivers of educational (more…)

Yes, they’re young and inexperienced. But Teach First participants have the right stuff

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 September 2013

Rebecca Allen
Today, Jay Allnutt and I published a new piece of analysis (PDF) showing that schools taking on Teach First participants have achieved gains in their GCSE results as a result of the programme. Our analysis tracks the performance of these schools in the first three years after they join the programme and compares them to changes in progress at a set of schools that look identical, except for their Teach First participation in that year.
We make sure this comparison set of schools have the same pupil demographic profile, the same prior levels and trends in GCSE performance, are in the same region of England and are all schools who will choose to join Teach First at some point in the future (formally this is known as a matched difference-in-differences panel estimation). Overall, school-wide gains in GCSE results are in the order of an improvement of about one grade in one of a pupil’s best eight subjects. This estimate is a fraction of the size claimed by the only other quantitative evaluation by Muijs et al (PDF), but is still large enough to be of value to schools.
Like many, until I wrote this research I was sceptical that Teach First participants could possibly have any sort of transformative effect on schools. The academic research tells us that we don’t know much about what good teachers look like before they join the profession. We just know they are likely to be relatively ineffective in their first year of teaching, compared to their second and subsequent years. So, to my mind, setting up a scheme that legitimises exit from the profession after just two years seemed like lunacy.
Furthermore, to someone who trained to become a teacher for a whole year and still found my first year in the classroom extremely exhausting and challenging, it did seem rather reckless to place young graduates into challenging classrooms with so little time to prepare.
But on reflection, I now think Teach First provides important lessons for recruitment to the teaching profession as a whole.
I believe Teach First reminds us of the importance of selecting the right teachers at the outset
Even in the depths of recession in 2010 there were just 3 applicants for each place on a traditional graduate training course (PGCE, PGDE and GTP). By contrast, at the same time Teach First was processing about eight applications for every place. Without needing to make claims about the relative qualities of the respective pools of applicants, it is easy to see how Teach First is able recruit an intake with greater potential, provided their sifting process can do a reasonable job of spotting those with the drive, resilience and stamina needed to succeed in the classroom.
Recent academic papers from the US explain that getting this initial selection of teachers right is critical because, whilst a first year novice teacher is less effective than they will be in year two, the improvement in teaching quality gained through experience is actually relatively modest compared to the very wide variation in teacher quality at the outset. Furthermore, those who are weak teachers in year one improve their practice at a slower rate than others, thus widening gaps in effectiveness in years two, three and four.
Giving graduates an exit path after two years may be an important recruitment device
It is hard to really know whether you’ll love teaching before you try it. The great pleasures of teaching are rather strange compared to other graduate jobs and many 21 year old graduates will have had little contact with young children in recent years. Given this, while many graduates hesitate about training to join the teaching profession (forever?), they may feel more able to join a scheme with a straightforward exit route after two years. If they find they need to (which most don’t), they can walk away with a sense of completion rather than as a ‘failure’ or ‘drop-out’. And the greatest success of Teach First takes place when a graduate who fully intended to move onto a job in the City or in Law completes their two years and finds they are unable to rip themselves away from the delight and gratification of educating the next generation.

“The impact of hiring Teach First participants on school and departmental performance: matched difference-in-differences and pupil fixed effects estimation”, by Rebecca Allen and Jay Allnutt was presented to the annual BERA conference today. Part of the analysis in the paper is based upon Jay Allnutt’s MSc dissertation, which was written whilst he was a secondary school teacher in London. He now works for Teach First. Teach First did not fund the research.