Worried about an excess of women

16th February 1996 at 00:00
Report highlights. Profile of the profession: The Secretary of State wishes to see an increase in teacher numbers broadly to match the rise in pupil numbers in 1996-97 or the full-time equivalent of an extra 5,500 teachers. This implies a significant addition to the numbers who would normally be recruited from the newly qualified, those who have not used their teaching qualification, and returners.

However this will be at a time when there are indications, from the Association of Graduate Recruiters and elsewhere that employment prospects for graduates generally are improving. This is a factor which we keep in mind when reaching our judgments.

We note the continuing concern among some of those giving evidence to us about the imbalance in the profession between males and females. Over two-thirds of teachers are female, a proportion that has been increasing. Males and females are almost equally divided in secondary schools but in primary schools females account for more than 80 per cent of teachers. We recognise the great attraction to women of teaching as a career, but at the same time note the views repeated to us about the educational implications of the comparatively small number of male teachers in primary schools, where a growing number of children come from single-parent families with no effective male role model.

Many of the comments we have received have related to the future supply of teachers.

Pupil numbers will continue to rise and there was widespread concern among those giving evidence that some two-thirds of teachers are aged 40 or over; and about a quarter of teachers will be aged 50 or over from this April, and be old enough to be eligible for early retirement. While the operation of the pension scheme is outside our remit, we would welcome evidence for our next review on the basis on which early retirement is available, as this affects projections for recruitment and retention. This is particularly relevant to teachers of subjects where there are continuing shortages, as overall standards of teaching and learning may be at risk.

We received some evidence that teachers were becoming less motivated to seek promotion to classroom teacher posts carrying additional responsibilities and to deputy and full headships. For example, the National Association of Headteachers sent us a copy of a study "An assessment of the labour market for senior staff in schools" which it had commissioned from Oxford Brookes University (we also saw the university's latest annual survey of headteacher vacancies). The study for the NAHT looked at the recruitment of heads and deputies in the first three months of 1995. It found some evidence that numbers of applications were lower than in the past and, while posts were being filled, it suggested that the motivation of suitable candidates to seek positions of leadership in schools was declining.

Attention was also drawn to the large number of advertised jobs in the study where the previous post holder had retired early, for reasons including ill-health or stress. In the coming year we will seek further evidence on the motivation of teachers to seek and remain in more senior posts. We continue to be told in evidence that motivation and morale are being adversely affected by workload pressures, and that the increasing expectations for improvement in the quality of education will maintain the demands on teachers.

We are also told of the enthusiasm for their work of many teachers and the dedication with which so many schools are providing high quality education for their pupils. Pay levels, pay structure and conditions of service each have a part to play in sustaining the motivation of all teachers, including those in more senior posts and those who seek promotion to them. We will continue to take these factors into account when making our recommendations.

Headteachers' pay: We recommend that any movement up the pay spine for heads and deputies should first be subject to review by relevant bodies against agreed performance criteria.

We recommend that the existing statutory performance criterion [sustained overall performance . . . which appreciably exceeds that normally expected] should be replaced with the following: "Where there has been outstanding overall performance by the headteacher or deputy headteacher in the light of criteria agreed with the relevant body."

We recommend that teacher governors should not be members of committees which determine the pay of heads and deputies at their own school.

In our last report we accepted many of the comments made to us about the possible use of the four performance indicators we had proposed, in particular that the interpretation of data needed to be made in a broad context and that some factors affecting a school's performance were frequently outside the control of the school. For that reason we recommended that it was for governors to use the indicators at their discretion in the light of local circumstances, and this remains our view.

However, given the accountability of heads and deputies for the quality of their schools, it seems appropriate that governors should undertake a more formal review with them of their duties, and that this should include the performance indicators. We see it as fundamental nevertheless, that the review should not be restricted to these indicators.

Schools will normally be best placed to know their own strengths and weaknesses, and we would expect governors and heads to agree their own objectives for school improvement to which as much or greater weight might be attached. At the same time we continue to recognise the importance of other factors, including job weight; but it seems to us that, given the key role of the head and deputies in determining the overall success of a school, it is no longer appropriate for governors to approve the award of additional points on the pay spine without first reviewing their performance against criteria agreed previously.

There is a further point. Some of the comments made to us appear to suggest that while some provisions may be discretionary, they should only be exercised against criteria that are wholly objective and quantified, and thus do away with the need for the exercise of judgment. We do not agree. Governors will need to exercise their own judgment both in setting criteria in agreement with heads and deputies and in assessing performance against them.

As to the role of governors in these arrangements, we acknowledge a lack of consistency of approach. Where increases have been given they have, for example, sometimes been on the basis of an almost automatic incremental progression; in other instances governors appear to have taken the view that no increases should be awarded regardless of the circumstances of the school or of the performance of the head or deputies.

We believe that greater consistency should be achieved and that our proposals, supported by clearer guidance and better training for both heads and deputies and governors, will facilitate this. This process would also be assisted by the use of independent and well-qualified clerks by those governing bodies which do not use them.

New spine points: We referred in the consultative document to representations for the spine to have more points, or for some other means to be introduced to make the spine more responsive to local needs. The Department for Education and Employment and the two headteacher associations had favoured such changes, which had also been supported in principle by the Office for Standards in Education. The purpose would be to provide scope for smaller sums to be awarded where a full point, or a combination of such points, was judged inappropriate. We had been told that some schools had divided points on the basis of making an award for, say, a single term for duties which would continue throughout the year.

Our latest annual pay survey has confirmed the use of such practices which the availability of smaller points would make unnecessary, and thus enable schools to allocate the same resources on a continuing basis. On the other hand, in the consultative document we acknowledged the concern of a number of the teacher unions that the availability of more incremental steps could see smaller sums awarded indiscriminately in a way which would devalue the rewards for significant extra responsibilities.

Concern had also been expressed that there might be pressure to make incremental progression for experience slower than at present, although we made it clear that we intended that this would not happen. In the consultative document we referred to various options and in particular looked at the two described below: * That, in addition to full points, half points should be available for the following criteria: responsibilities, excellence, recruitment and retention and for what is currently covered by the second special needs point (only full points would be available in respect of qualifications, experience and what is currently covered by the first special needs point).

* That the number of points on the spine should be unchanged, but that governing bodies would be given discretion to award sums of any value between those points in respect of responsibilities, excellence, recruitment and retention and for what is currently covered by the second special needs point.

We do not agree with the view that the value of existing discretionary pay awards would be depressed by the scope to use half points, or that all additional tasks, however small, would need to be remunerated. It would be for schools individually to decide how to use the new smaller sums.

The current basis on which points are awarded for qualifications and experience would be unchanged, with the exception of experience outside teaching for which we agree with the DFEE that schools should be allowed to award half points.

Attracting good teachers to schools in difficult areas: In response to the Secretary of State's request we examined whether the pay system contained adequate arrangements for attracting good teachers to schools in difficult areas. The general response of the parties was that the pay structures for both groups already contained adequate scope to attract good candidates to such schools. For classroom teachers, recruitment and retention points can be used to attract and keep able individuals; while for heads and deputies, governing bodies should take account of the social, economic and cultural background of a school's pupils when deciding appropriate salary levels. We are doubtful that further guidance is necessary.

Circumstances will vary from school to school and we recall OFSTED's view in its 1994 report Improving Schools that, while progress was not easily achieved, even schools in areas with high levels of social deprivation could achieve genuine improvements through careful planning and the commitment of governors, heads and other teachers. Central to this was the head.

The overwhelming reaction of those giving evidence was that, subject to the availability of extra funding, schools in difficult areas would want to pursue a mix of options, not restricted to pay, which would help to attract good teachers.

For example, the Secondary Heads Association suggested that more teachers could be appointed to improve pupil:teacher ratios and reduce class sizes. Among similar responses, the four main classroom teacher unions said that the problems facing schools in difficult areas could only be addressed effectively by providing them with a programme of support to ensure that their resources for staffing and learning were adequate.

The DFEE referred to the need to encourage the development of relocation packages and other incentives. We agree that such measures can be important. Schools and LEAs should review whether existing schemes are as comprehensive as possible and are used whenever appropriate. They should also ensure that their in-service training and staff development arrangements are of a standard which will help to attract and retain good teachers.

This should be actively encouraged by the Teacher Training Agency, which could also examine further whether more can be done to recognise professionally the service of a successful teacher in a school in a difficult area, perhaps using any existing value-added measure for what they have achieved.

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