Super work for super-specialist school teachers

Teachers in top performing specialist schools have to work harder than their colleagues elsewhere, new research commissioned by the Government has found

William Stewart & David Marley

Teachers in top performing specialist schools have to work harder than their colleagues elsewhere, new research commissioned by the Government has found.

But the PricewaterhouseCoopers study concluded this was "not generally resented" because their job satisfaction had also increased.

The researchers were examining the impact of becoming an official high performing specialist school. The designation, achieved by nearly 400 schools since 2004, means they receive more funding in return for either taking on a second specialism, becoming a training or leading edge school or taking part in schemes such as the Youth Support Trust programme.

There was more work for staff in two thirds of the schools as a result of the new enhanced status, particularly for class teachers and directors of specialism, the researchers found. But there was optimism in the 25 schools they visited that the work would reduce.

The head of one school told them: "It is obviously more work, but the impact has been positive. I haven't heard too many moans." A school governor said staff had been able to cope with the extra workload because they had been prepared to commit their own time to it. Another head reported a "massive" increase in job satisfaction because of extra school specialisms.

Around half of those interviewed for the study believed the recruitment and retention of teachers had increased because their school had high performing status.

John Bangs, head of education at the National Union of Teachers,, said he was glad schools were developing specialisms if they thought it helped their communities. But he said: "It concerns me that these bring more work if a school is jumping to participate at the leading edge of the latest government initiative."

- "High Performing Specialist Schools" is at


School workforce reforms have led to improved exam results and better pupil behaviour, a report published today suggests.

Teacher morale and retention rates have been boosted in schools which had made better use of support staff, according to Alma Harris from London University's Institute of Education.

The report, produced for the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, examined 12 schools which had made radical changes to staffing - encouraged by the 2003 workload deal between teachers' unions and employers. Eight had seen improvements to their value-added results and 10 to their GCSE results.

The reforms also made a "positive difference" to attendance, behaviour, rates of exclusion and extra-curricular activities.

Tudor Grange School in Solihull has used the reforms to employ a student mentor and a data manager to analyse pupils' progress. Head-teacher Jennifer Bexon-Smith said: "Having these staff means teachers don't have to do everything."

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William Stewart & David Marley

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