Teacher numbers fall by 10,000 in a year in England

Teacher numbers fall by 10,000 in a year in England

BBC |April 25, 2012

By Angela Harrison Education correspondent, BBC News
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The number of teachers in England’s state school system fell by 10,000 in the year to November, new figures show.

Government data on the school workforce shows teacher numbers have dropped for the first time in years.

Ministers say three quarters of the reduction is among teachers employed directly by local councils – for example as tutors or schools advisors.

The head teachers’ body ASCL says budget pressure means heads are making difficult decisions to cut staff.

The drop of 10,000 is 2% of the full-time equivalent teaching posts in England’s schools.

Teacher numbers had been growing steadily in recent years, increasing by 32,000 (7.9%) between spring 2000 and November 2011.

The total number working in England’s state school system is now 438,000 – a fall of 10,000 from 2010, a workforce survey taken in November shows.

Meanwhile, numbers of teaching assistants in schools have almost trebled since 2000, rising to 219,800 in November 2011.

Academy expansion

A government spokesman said most of the reduction in teacher numbers was due to the loss of teachers from council posts and this was related to more schools becoming academies.

When schools become academies they are generally less closely linked to local authorities and may choose to “buy in” or provide for themselves services previously organised by local councils.

Under the expanding academy programme, schools are funded directly by central government and are given extra money which would have previously have been spent on their behalf by councils.

Among other things, councils would have spent the cash on tutors for sick or excluded pupils, or on “super teachers” who might help to train or advise teachers in schools.

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said head teachers were feeling pressure on their budgets and were having to make difficult decisions.

“This [fall in teacher numbers] will be mostly explained by a fall in school budgets,” he told BBC News.

“In recent years, there has been more funding to bring people in for intervention work, but heads now have to reduce that.

“We are picking up from a lot of school leaders that they have to reduce staff. It is obviously worrying.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education said: “The main reason for the drop in teacher numbers is because local authorities do not need to directly employ as many teachers, because more schools are becoming academies.

“Schools though are free to organise themselves as they see fit- they are best placed to make these decisions without undue or unnecessary influence from government. Head teachers are best placed to use their professional judgement to decide the most appropriate staffing structure for their school, including what role support staff play.”

The general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, Christine Blower, said the census showed the “huge loss in teaching expertise and local authority support” that was occurring as a result of the government’s “disastrous cuts agenda”.

“Centrally employed teaching staff are very important to many aspects of teaching and learning from music lessons to SEN support,” she said.

Head teachers’ pay

The government’s data also shows there are about 700 state school leaders earning more than £100,000 a year in England. About 200 of those earn more than £110,000 a year.

The average salary of a school leader in England’s state schools is £55,500, according to the survey, which was carried out in November.

And 1,600 school leaders earned less than £40,000 last year; they were mostly in primary or nursery schools.

On average, a classroom teacher earned £34,400 a year.

What’s wrong with education? Teachers reveal all

What’s wrong with education? Teachers reveal all

The Guardian World News

Pupils and teachers at Downhills primary in London protest against plans to turn it into an academy

Parents, pupils and teachers at Downhills primary school in Tottenham, London, protesting against proposals to turn the school into an academy. Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Phillip Smith, secondary school English teacher and assistant head, West Midlands

The downgrading of BTecs in league tables affects us massively. As an early academy – we converted in 2009 – with a large intake from socially deprived areas, we’ve had a lot of success offering pupils a personalised curriculum. To be told now that you can teach whatever you like, but only some things will count in the tables, leaves you in a catch-22 situation. There were some Mickey Mouse qualifications, but we tried to steer away from them and offer courses that were of real use to pupils. Now they’re being pushed into doing academic subjects that probably aren’t in their best interests. Couple that with considerable budget cuts, and it limits even further what we can offer pupils. You can make efficiency cuts to a degree, but when much of your budget is tied up in staffing, there’s only a certain amount you can do before you have to look at that. That in turn affects the courses you can offer and class sizes. Gove says he wants teachers to offer a first-class education and be respected, but we’re being asked to do that in a climate of reduced budgets and in which pay and conditions are getting worse. For a lot of staff, the messages simply don’t add up.

Damian Knollys, headteacher, Midsomer Norton primary school, Somerset

Education has been a political plaything for too long; the continual tinkering makes schools very unsettling places to be for teachers. Current inspections are part of a system that seems designed to reduce everything to a label. In doing so they fail to reflect the complex nature of schools. Heads and teachers inevitably try to simplify what they’re doing to meet the latest criteria that Ofsted imposes, compromising their beliefs on what education is about. And the climate of fear and judgment engendered by Ofsted is unhelpful. By Sir Michael Wilshaw’s own admission, staff morale is not high on his agenda, but we know from experience with colleagues and pupils that you achieve progress through sustained challenge and support. We need to move towards such a model, not away from it.

Claire Smith, headteacher, St Werburgh’s primary school, Bristol

There’s an issue around primary places in Bristol; most schools are working with some quite challenging structural issues. My class sizes are relatively small, but that’s changing as we are becoming increasingly popular in the area and the population is increasing, too. Last year, we had 143 applications for the 28 places in our reception class and about 80 families put us as their first choice. It means talking to the local authority about whether we can support this growth in any way without it having a detrimental effect on existing pupils. For heads, another issue at the moment is trying to put policy into practice. We are thinking carefully about what the benefits and implications would be if we used the new freedoms being offered to schools by the government.

Ian Horsewell, Midlands-based secondary school science teacher

Changes to courses or exams are a huge problem. They’re not necessarily bad changes – plenty of teachers like the idea of moving from modules to a terminal exam, but they’re being dumped on us at such short notice. Politicians don’t seem to understand that putting a course together takes a long time. They want things to happen straight away. In science, we still don’t know what to plan for next September’s year 10 groups and that has an effect on pupils, too. It’s incredibly frustrating to be told how to do your job by someone who’s not a teacher.

Andrew Austin, father of four and co-chair, Louth Save Our Schools, Lincolnshire

The unions seems to be willing to strike for pay and conditions, but the biggest threat to those things is the privatisation of education. I think they need to be a little more vigorous about it. As academies start setting their own terms and conditions, we’re going to see an awful lot of disparity between schools and areas. I really can’t see that being good in the classroom. Many teachers decided to become public-sector workers because they had that ethos. To find themselves being almost forced into the private sector by default, at a time of austerity, is petrifying for a lot of them. For children already in their teens, there’s going to be enough of the public-sector ethos left among teachers for the changes not to be too much of an issue, but I worry for the five- and six-year-olds who’ll be heading into their GCSE years in a system that’s been privatised for almost a decade.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of schools

We talk about problems and challenges, but actually I think these are exciting times in education at the moment. There’s huge political will to make a difference. When I was a young teacher there wasn’t that same drive from the centre. Teaching is now seen as a high-status job in a way it wasn’t years ago. It’s better paid than it was and promotion for good teachers, particularly in challenging areas, is good. I think there’s a new sense of momentum now in young teachers I meet. They really want to make a difference.

The union voice

Mary Bousted, general secretary, Association of Teachers and Lecturers

Low morale is a really serious problem. We’ve had an absolute barrage of very, very destructive criticism from the coalition government – I call it shouting at the profession. Teachers are being held responsible for all the ills of society. Ofsted is now saying over-detailed lesson planning is focusing minds on activities rather than outcomes, but it’s Ofsted that drove this mania for writing things down. It’s part of this reign of terror on school leaders. They feel it so acutely, it gets passed down to teachers.

Christine Blower, general secretary, National Union of Teachers

Pensions, performance management, professional autonomy, pay cuts and Ofsted. Michael Gove talking about bad teachers sets entirely the wrong tone. It ought to be a case of helping and supporting teachers with their professional practice, not fishing for people you might set up competence procedures against. As Arne Duncan, the US education secretary, said: “You can’t fire your way to the top.”

Chris Keates, general secretary, NASUWT

The move towards the English baccalaureate means a narrowing of the curriculum, so children won’t get broad, balanced learning. For some teachers in non-English baccalaureate subjects, it’s already thrown the notion of job security out of the window. Normally at a time when people are losing their jobs, people turn to teaching. You get an absolute glut of people. But last year the numbers applying to train fell by 30%. Teachers are under siege from this government.

What you told us on Twitter

Co1port, @ICTwitz Headteacher incompetence & paranoia. Accountability agenda getting in way of teaching pupils

Rachel Gooch, @PlaceFarm Proposed free school causing uncertainty when planning for big strategic changes

Daniel J Ayres, @DanielAyres School dinners – avoiding overcooked broccoli

Andrew Bethell, @Andrewbeth Teacher retention. Finland lose 3% of staff after 3 yrs. We lose 25%

Philip Salisbury, @llewelyn20 Behaviour. Definitely. No doubt at all

BrummieMummy, @BrummieMummy Politics getting in the way of education

Debbie Foster, @Goody200Shoes If funding agreed, the arrival of large free school in area where already surplus secondary places

Lonnie2512m, @Lonnie2512 Parental engagement on SRE [sex and relationships education] in 98% Muslim school. We’re failing to quell concerns

J Hobson, @JohnAHobson No clear vision from Gove as to what he expects schools to look like: obsessed with failing schools and failing kids. Why?

AB, @Kiteflyer67 Sourcing quality staff

Lorenza Bacino, @LorenzaBacino How to stay open and prove we are an asset to the community as the smallest school in Barnet

Andromeda, @andromedababe Ill-informed, heavy-handed political interference

Dan Nicholls, @InglishTeecher9 An influx of EAL [English as an additional language] kids, with little staff training and expectation to support their learning and get them a GCSE

kalinski1970, @kalinski1970 The government

Parma Kalsi, @parmachanna We are a primary school being forced into academy status. Ofsted: blatant tool of govt

Nici Scott, @nicionthegreen So many services that supported schools disappearing as a result of LA cuts

Teachers Tempted To Rewrite Pupils’ Exam Answers

Teachers Tempted To Rewrite Pupils’ Exam Answers

The Guardian World News |by Jessica Shepherd

Headteachers consider strike

Seven out of ten teachers polled said pressure to improve their pupils’ grades has intensified. Photograph Rui Vieira/PA

More than a third of teachers have admitted they could be tempted to re-write their pupils’ exam answers, according to a poll.

Some 35% of teachers said the pressure to improve their students’ grades was now so strong they could be persuaded to cheat.

A few admitted cheating was already rife in their schools in the survey of 512 teachers conducted by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).

One secondary school French teacher, who didn’t want to be named, told the pollsters she “virtually re-wrote” students’ work to match the marking criteria, rather than teach them:

“I do this simply because there is not time to do both.”

A primary school teacher told the pollsters she had “been forced to manipulate results so that levels of progress stay up”. “Our head fears an Ofsted inspection should our results waver.”

A secondary school teacher said their school “definitely pushes the boundaries of exam integrity”. Maintaining the school’s status in league tables “took precedence over developing the abilities of pupils,” they said.

A spokesman from the Department for Education said parents would be “absolutely outraged” if teachers were manipulating exam or test scores.

“There is absolutely no excuse for teachers cheating … It undermines other staff, damages children’s education and risks destroying the public’s faith in the profession.”

He said all the leading education systems in the world had“robust” testing in schools and classroom inspections. “Parents and the taxpayer would rightly be asking questions if they couldn’t judge how schools are doing,” he said.

Some 71% of those polled said pressure to improve their pupils’grades had increased in the past two years. Teachers were asked to list the groups placing pressure on them. Some 88% said their headteachers, 51% said inspectors and 50% said parents. Just over a third said the government.

The majority of teachers offer after-school classes, while 9% said they sometimes give up weekends to coach pupils. Just over a quarter gave rewards to pupils to encourage them to study harder.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of ATL, said the government’s“persistent” focus on tests, exams and league tables left teachers under “enormous pressure” and that this was “often to the detriment to high quality teaching and learning.”

“Results now appear to be more important than learning this does nothing to help children’s progress,” she said. The government needs to think urgently about relieving the pressure on headteachers and leaders. This pressure simply filters on to teachers and lecturers in the classroom.”

Thousands of teachers and lecturers will gather in Manchester on Monday for ATL’s annual conference.

Exam Pressure ‘Undermining Teacher’s Integrity’

Exam Pressure ‘Undermining Teacher’s Integrity’

BBC |April 2, 2012

By Hannah Richardson BBC News education reporter
Some teachers’ professional integrity is being undermined by the pressure to get good exam results, a union says.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers says teachers have been forced to “manipulate results” and even “re-write students’work” to boost results.

A snapshot survey of ATL members found a third felt their integrity was being compromised by what was asked of them.

ATL head Dr Mary Bousted said results seemed to be more valued than learning.

The union carried out research with 512 of its teacher members working in state schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

It said teachers felt under increasing pressure to get pupils through tests and exams.

About two-thirds of those surveyed were supplying pupils with more practice tests and running after-school classes or one-to-one classes.

A third said they had helped pupils prepare by attending meetings to find out “exam themes”.

A quarter of teachers felt obliged to attend exam board seminars to help their pupils get ahead.

And some 35% said the pressure they were under could compromise their professional integrity.

‘Impossible’One teacher at a primary school in England said: “I have been forced to manipulate results so that levels of progress stay up, as our head fears [there will be] an Ofsted inspection should our results waver.

“I work in an infant school.”

Another at an English secondary school said: “The school I work at definitely pushes the boundaries of exam integrity.

“Maintaining their “gold-plated” status by far takes precedence over developing the abilities of the pupils.”

He added: “Controlled assessments and aspects of coursework are problem areas for cheating, with senior leadership driving the agenda.”

And a third, a teacher in a grammar school in Northern Ireland, said: “In some cases I end up virtually rewriting my students’homework to match the marking criteria, rather than teach them my subject, French. I do this because there is simply not time to do both!”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “There is absolutely no excuse for teachers cheating.

“Parents will be absolutely outraged to hear anyone admit they’ve manipulated test scores. It undermines other staff, damages children’s education and risks destroying the public’s faith in the profession.”

‘Failures’Others focused on the stress on pupils. There appeared to be a consensus among teachers that the pressure was damaging for pupils as well.

Nine out of 10 teachers surveyed said they felt tests and exams were the biggest source of pressure on pupils and young people, causing increased anxiety for them.

One teacher from an English primary school said: “I fear we are switching a great many pupils off before they have even left primary school!”

Dr Bousted said children in the UK were among the most tested in the world.

“This creates a huge pressure on young people, with many whose progress has been outstanding on a personal or emotional level feeling like failures following test and exam results.

“With the government’s persistent focus on tests, exam results and league tables, many teachers and lecturers also feel under enormous pressure – often at the detriment to high quality teaching, learning and development of their pupils.”

She called for the government to look again at its test and exams regime.

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