Supporting Families
  • banner13
  • banner3
  • banner7
  • banner11
  • banner2
  • banner6
  • banner9
  • banner10
  • banner4
  • banner12
Sunday, 20 September 2015 18:54

Why are teachers leaving the profession? Kent on Sunday Article - September 2015

Teaching is one of the most important professions in the country, as we place the futures of our children in the hands of our teachers. Good teachers enable young people to achieve their full academic and career potential, also developing their interests, and preparing them as citizens to play a full part in our society.

However, state school teaching is facing a crisis as Department for Education figures show that almost 50,000 teachers left the profession in the 12 months to November 2013 – the latest year for which figures are available. This is an increase of 25 per cent over four years and represents around one in twelve of the number of full time teachers. Almost 4 in 10 leave the profession within a year of qualifying, a rate which has almost tripled in six years. A recent survey by the Association of School and College Leaders found that more than two-thirds of secondary school head teachers and deputies in England are considering taking early retirement with most blaming an excessive workload. The survey also showed that few deputy and assistant heads wanted to step up to become head teachers with only 25% are considering such a promotion. Another report records that one in four academy heads left post in 2014.

This article explores some of the reasons for this exodus, pointing critically to government policy and practices in some schools.....

However, it should be remembered that the overwhelming majority of teachers are still carrying out a job or vocation they are should be proud of, working in good schools that nurture and value their staff.

The figures will also include those teachers who have retired, including early retirements brought about for the reasons identified below.

 

Half the teaching staff have left and been replaced. The headteachers continue in part-time acting capacities. One of them is also headteacher of a school in London, and one is an educational consultant”.
Kent Primary Academy, OFSTED 2014.
Headteachers
There is a shortage of good people coming forward to become headteachers, with over 1000 heads and senior school staff leaving teaching before retirement age every year according to the NAHT.  The increasingly rapid turnover is covered in a variety of ways. These include: Federations, whereby one headteacher may take over a number of schools; Academy Groups that can group a number of schools together under one ‘Superhead’ but which are also able to move headteachers from school to school without difficulty; long or short-term acting headteachers, sometimes turning into a series of appointments going on for years; or parachuting in Local Authority employed consultants on fixed terms.
“Since the inspection the previous headteacher has left. A new executive headteacher was put in place. Two heads of school were also appointed. There have been a large number of changes to the staff since the inspection. Fifteen members of staff have left the academy, including four out of the six newly qualified teachers who started at the beginning of the academic year. Fifteen new members of staff have joined”.
   Kent Primary Academy, OFSTED 2014

 

The Question
Why is it all happening? Certainly, there is rightly more pressure to get rid of inadequate teachers who will make up a proportion of the numbers. However, workload, undue pressure, failure to support or offer appropriate training, budgetary cuts, disillusionment, and the loss of esteem and respect in which the profession is held, all play their part as described below.
 
The children
However, first and foremost, there is an enormous potential cost to children and their futures if there is not a stable teaching team in place in a school.

One of the consequences of this loss of teachers, especially in primary schools, is the number of temporary teachers of varying quality needed to plug gaps. Each year I talk to a large number of primary school families, mainly those looking for school appeals; but others looking for a change of school often for this precise reason. In both cases, I am horrified by the experiences of some who will talk about up to ten different supply and temporary teachers for their child in the school year. There are also those who experience the rapid procession of temporary headteachers, after the permanent head has left the school. Sometimes this happens because the headteacher was removed because of low standards, but temporary cover does not improve matters.

I also talk with parents who have done their research to choose their primary school, and have chosen one with a good headteacher and good record. Then the headteacher leaves, staff don’t like the change of regime, there is a large turnover and the whole school changes in character. Unfortunately, this happens too often, there is no way of predicting it and you will find a number of the more extreme examples on my website www.kentadvice.co.uk.

In secondary schools, the use of temporary or supply staff can destroy a student’s chances of success in an important qualification if they are not carefully selected, or good teachers are simply not available. Vocational subjects are being run down as government targets focus relentlessly on academic subjects, leading to possible redundancy for those teachers whose speciality no longer fits. 

“Since the last monitoring inspection six of the seven teachers are new. Currently one teacher is on sick leave and the class is being taught by a supply teacher. Further changes will take place at the end of term. The previous executive headteacher, head of school and pastoral support worker left at the end of the academic year. In September a new executive headteacher was appointed to lead the school for three days a week for one year”. 
Kent Primary School, OFSTED 2014

 

Inadequacy
One of the problems that bedevilled the profession for many years was the difficulty of removing teachers who were failing their pupils. This has changed considerably in recent years and schools are much more ready to use competency procedures to begin the process, and in some cases pressure the teacher to leave. I look at this in more detail below.
 
Workload
Too often we read snide comments in the press and on social media of the long summer holidays. However, these comments are rarely balanced by reference to the long hours worked at home in the evenings preparing lessons and marking work, the weekends sacrificed to the same, or the extra-curricular activity still undertaken by many teachers out of commitment to the children in their charge, but unpaid and diminishing as pressures and lack of appreciation of its value increase.
 
“The school has suffered from high staff turnover over a protracted period of time. At the start of this academic year approximately half of the teaching staff are new and of these, half are newly qualified teachers”.
Kent Primary School, OFSTED 2014

 

Pressure
Most of the pressure has government at its source, as the drive to improve the measure of academic performance is relentless.

The person most at risk is the headteacher, once in a secure position, but now extremely vulnerable to losing their post. KCC has seen its Primary Key Stage 2  performance improve rapidly over the past three years, the County Council itself under government pressure to improve standards, coinciding with a purge of headteachers deemed not up to the job. There is a similar purge in Medway, but without the results to justify it. Good news for Kent schools in terms of performance, but at what cost, not taking into account what has happened to those heads dumped often after a previously successful career.

"The current acting headteacher took on this role in January 2014. Her previous role of deputy headteacher has been taken up, in an acting capacity, by the assistant headteacher. There has also been a high number of staff changes in recent time. This has involved both teachers and support staff".
Medway Primary School, OFSTED 2014

 

Bullying
The future of the school is at stake if the school fails to deliver through OFSTED or assessment success, so pressure on the headteacher to deliver through his or her teachers is intense. In some schools, this can become bullying and if you look at some of the cases on my website www.kentadvice.co.uk this becomes apparent. Examples of alleged bullying are often disguised by those in charge as ‘demanding higher standards for the good of the children’.

Training

The third issue is lack of proper training, with some newly qualified teachers being thrown in at the deep end, because there is lack of time, resources or will to offer proper support. This then becomes sink or swim and I am sure contributes heavily to the four in ten who leave in that first year. Schools are increasingly under financial pressure in spite of propaganda to the converse, and some, especially some academy groups, put pressure on older teachers to go or go early, and replace them with much cheaper staff at the beginning of their career. Again, it is easier to winnow these newly qualified teachers out by a process that becomes almost one of attrition. As with other issues, I strongly believe that the majority of schools provide good practice and offer a favourable environment in which to develop new teachers. One key ongoing training issue is that of Special Education Needs, as the range of SEN challenges a teacher has to cope with in their classroom expands. One wonders how many have been taught to manage children with autism or ADHD, to give two examples of the many that may have to be faced in a single class, but still be expected to deliver.

"There has been a large number of new staff joining the academy this year, following a re-structuring in the summer".
Kent Secondary Academy OFSTED 2014
 
Finance
Budgetary cuts are certainly squeezing the teaching profession, with the average teacher salary in academies below that in maintained schools, often to balance the higher salaries of leadership teams. A more serious example lies in school sixth forms where there is no government commitment to hold budgets and funding has fallen rapidly. This is seeing schools with larger sixth forms having to cut minority subjects, often foreign languages. Some non-selective schools will be looking closely at whether they can afford a sixth form at all, as it is increasingly subsidised by reduing funding for the main school students. Other methods to save money include reducing the number of examination subjects each student can follow and increasing class sizes. Each of these examples put pressure on schools to make teachers redundant or increase their workload further, many seeking a new life elsewhere. How the private schools must be rubbing their hands.
 
The public image of teaching
At least nurses and doctors faced with similar issues can comfort themselves with the public respect for their professions. Sadly, this country appears to have an astonishingly low opinion of its teachers and the teaching profession compared to other countries both in the developed and developing worlds and so we are starting to get what we as a country (but not the children) deserve. Picture the teacher with a vocation to teach who comes home from a day’s hard work under the pressures described above, too often encountering parents who don’t value education or the work of the school. He or she meets friends who don’t hold their work in regard and enjoy a better work life balance, then sees and reads in the media with monotonous regularity the blame attached to  their profession, if indeed it is still a profession, for so many of the ills of society. Can we seriously be surprised if so many choose to look for a better life elsewhere?

What can we do about the situation as individuals? Quite simply, next time someone rubbishes the teaching profession in your hearing stand up to them and tell them how important and valued state school teachers are. Next time you meet a teacher, tell them the same. It could catch on!

Last modified on Sunday, 20 September 2015 19:49

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated.
Basic HTML code is allowed.

Latest News & Comments

Just click on a news item below to read it in full. Feel free to subscribe to the news via the email link to the right or the RSS Feed at the bottom of the page. Please note that the 800 or so regular subscribers who receive each news item directly are not included in the number of readers recorded below the item. If you have a view on any item posted, please leave a comment. Also feel free to suggest items of news, or areas where comment is needed to: peter@kentadvice.co.uk. \nNews items appear as and when I have time in a very busy schedule supporting clients.

  • Oversubscription & Vacancies in Medway Primary schools: Allocation for September 2017

    The proportion of children offered one of their choices in a Medway primary school has risen to 97.4%, the highest proportion for at least five years. This is a result of a reduction of 160 in the number of Medway school places taken up by children from the Authority and outside. As a result, there are 432 vacancies across the 67 schools, which is 12% of the total available, up from 7% in 2016.

    Most difficult area as usual is Rainham, with just 8 vacancies in two of its schools, a total of 2%. of the total number of places.  At the other end is Rochester with 17% of all places left empty in five schools. Most popular school is Barnsole Primary which turned away 52 first choices, followed by Walderslade and Pilgrim primaries with 29 disappointed first choices for their 30 places. There are ten schools with more than first choices turned away, nine in Chatham and Gillingham, listed in the table below. 

    Barnsole     Pilgrim 3    Walderslade Primary 2  

    Eight schools have over a third of their places empty, up from five in 2016, but headed for the second year running by All Hallows Primary Academy, with 70% of its Reception places empty (up from 60% in 2016). Altogether 31 of the 67 primary schools have vacancies in their Reception classes. 85 Medway children  were offered none of their choices and have been allocated to other schools with vacancies by Medway Council, well over half in Chatham and Gillingham schools.  

    look more closely at each Medway area below, together with the situation for Junior Schools…….

    Read more...
    Written on Sunday, 11 June 2017 13:05 Be the first to comment! Read 182 times
  • Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust: Will anyone be held to account?

    BBC South East is running an item on this story, tonight, January 12th at 6.30 p.m.

    The 2016 Accounts for the Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust (LSSAT), a charitable company (!), finally lay bare the rottenness behind the Trust.

    The Lilac Sky Schools Trust is carrying a net deficit of £1,329,631 on these funds because: 

    The Trust incurred extortionate and expensive Founder/ substantive CEO consultancy  costs for 232 days at a net cost of £217,500 along with other high cost  support  services,  central  Trust  staffing  costs that were far higher  than average,  the cost of  settlement  agreements  (contractual  and non-contractual) paid to staff who were immediately appointed as consultants by the company and recharged  to  the Trust, minimal  value for money procedures and a lack of competitive  tendering.

    2016 Accounts Page 38

     These accounts are prepared by new Trustees, appointed 8 June 2016 to sort out the mess, described as emergency interim appointments, who do not mince their words with regard to the previous management of the Trust. LSSAT handed over its academies to other Trusts on 31st December 2016, and is currently being wound up, possibly with government financial aid. See below in blue.  

    I am not an accountant but the shocking detail in the Report is plain to see and builds further on my exposure in the 2015 Accounts, of the Trust being run as a Money Tree by those in control. Of course, this is at the expense of the pupils in the seven local primary schools run by the Trust, and other casualties along the way.  

    LSSAT Logo

    For those with a long memory, I first identified the methods used by Lilac Sky in 2013 to siphon off school funds by ripping off Furness School and I faced excoriation from KCC who continued to insist Lilac Sky was wonderful for some years afterwards, the school closing in 2015, with £1.6 million having gone missing, apparently with no one noticing. Since then I have covered the appalling story of Lilac Sky through  a number of articles, accessible through my search engine, most recently here.   

    There are of course many other examples of entrepreneurs taking large sums out of academies, but these normally remain hidden, and it often requires independent Trustees to winkle out the truth, as has happened here.

    Read more...
    Written on Tuesday, 06 June 2017 17:49 1 comment Read 579 times
  • The scandals of Oasis Academy, Isle of Sheppey

    Update, Thursday: Further information  on Reflection at foot of article, in blue. 

    Between September and April this year, 33 children at Oasis Academy Isle of Sheppey (OAIS) have ‘left’ the school to take up Elective Home Education (EHE), some having reportedly been encouraged to do so, which would be unlawful. This figure is almost twice that of the next two Kent schools, Cornwallis Academy and Ebbsfleet Academy, which both saw 17 children leave to be ‘Home Educated’.

    Oasis Image

     Other OAIS pupils were sent to the Swale Inclusion Centre, and removed from the school’s Register, the removal having the effect of deleting the pupils GCSE record from school examination performance, as explained in a previous article, here.

    The school also sent some Year 11 pupils home early in May for compulsory ‘Study Leave’ without tuition, whilst the others continued to be prepared for their GCSEs in school. This action amounts to what is often called an ‘informal exclusion’, which is unlawful.

    Some of these children will previously have endured the Reflection punishment, which requires pupils to sit in a room and ‘Reflect’ on their behaviour for a whole day, an utterly unrealistic expectation that a day of boredom will improve matters. Astonishingly, 39% of the whole student body has been subject to this humiliating punishment, many on multiple occasions. The reality is that Reflection is utterly destructive, inevitably producing antagonism towards and alienation from the school, is almost certainly unlawful as the child has been forcibly deprived of education without provision for catching up, and indeed could be regarded as child abuse.

    Reports of bullying are rife.

    As with other out of control academies described in these pages previously, there appears little proper accountability apart from a recent Ofsted Inspection that appears not to have noticed key signals. Meanwhile, children's futures are being blighted.....
    Written on Saturday, 03 June 2017 12:39 10 comments Read 2544 times
  • Medway Test 2017: Late notification of Important Change

    Update: The value of the following item is underlined by the interest shown by browsers. 1500 hits in the first two days makes this the second most popular item on the website this year - in third place is the article Medway Test Scores Blunder - Medway fails families yet againconfirming once again the lack of confidence Medway families have in their Council's education operation. 

    The Council sent a letter to schools last week announcing that it is changing its Test provider from GL Assessment to CEM (Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring) for the forthcoming Medway Test in September. Unfortunately, the two testing providers have different interpretations of the assessment procedure, as explained here. The CEM Verbal Reasoning Test is far more language based than the GL model (which is used by Kent), including vocabulary and normally comprehension, as can be seen by a glance at the above link together with model answers provided by commercial companies. It will account for 20% of the aggregate Test marks which, together with the 40% for the Free Writing Test, will make this a highly language based selection method. It will therefore discriminate against children from socially deprived areas who are often weaker in language skills, children with English as a second Language, boys, and those who don't hear of or appreciate the change being made. The Council’s letter to schools gives no rationale for this change of approach or warning of the effects of the change, so presumably it is not for educational reasons, but simply a cost cutting exercise. 

    Neither does it do anything whatever to address the other serious problems I have previously identified in the Medway Test process, missing a golden opportunity in its recent review of the procedure, which appears to have reached no conclusions. It also comes close on after last year's debacle of the 2016 Test.   

    In addition, the Council has suddenly dispensed with the services of its highly experienced Free Writing Test setter, and at the time of writing does not appear to have re-employed any of its trained markers, although there is no change in the processes. It is not yet clear who is going to provide these essential skills this year.

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 29 May 2017 19:59 3 comments Read 2809 times
  • Oversubscription & Vacancies in Kent Primary schools: Allocation for September 2017

     2017 has been a very good year for Primary school admissions in Kent with 97.4% of families being awarded a school place of their choice, up from 96.6% in 2016. This has been brought about by a combination of 267 extra places created since the 2016 allocations including 30 in one new school, together with a remarkable fall of 679 children or 3.8% in the total applying for places. Overall there are 11.1% vacant places in the Reception classes, rising sharply from 6.5% in 2016. This article follows on from my first look at the general data, here, and explores the pressure areas looking at oversubscription and vacancies across the county.

    There are still local pressures focused on several towns including: Tonbridge with just one vacancy in one school; Ashford, two vacancies, apart from 14 in a school on the outskirts; Sevenoaks,  full apart from 18 places in one school on the outskirts of town; and Tunbridge Wells just one school with 24 vacancies. However, overall there is a far better picture than last year. Contrast these with: Ashford Rural; Faversham; Maidstone Rural; Shepway Rural & Hythe; and Swanley & District; all with a fifth or more places empty in their schools. 

    Once again the most popular schools vary considerably from last year, with just Great Chart, Ashford (3rd in 2016) and Fleetdown in Dartford (first last year) occurring in top 10s for both years. Most popular school is Slade Primary in Tonbridge, turning away 43 first choices, followed by Great Chart with 41. You will find the full list of high preferences below.

    Slade             Great Chart

    At the other end of the scale, one unfortunate school with a Good OFSTED, and sound KS2 results had no first choices, and offered just one place (!), whilst another 17 schools have more than half of their places empty, a sharp rise on last year. As financial pressures mount in schools, such low numbers would become critical if repeated.

    I look at each district in more detail below, with a brief note on admission to Junior Schools.  The outcomes for Medway primary schools will follow shortly…...

    Read more...
    Written on Monday, 15 May 2017 09:38 5 comments Read 3767 times
  • Kent & Medway OFSTED Reports to Easter

    Kent primary school OFSTED Reports up to Easter show considerable improvement on an already strong position as shown in the summary tables below. Outcomes include 15 schools, a fifth of the 72 inspected, improving their assessment as against just 3 which declined. The proportion of Good or Outstanding Schools inspected is well above the most recent national figure, with seven Outstanding schools.  Four schools improved their grading by two levels; Aylesford Primary; Chantry Community Academy and Tymberwood Academy (both in Gravesham), taking them out of Special Measures to Good; and Cliftonville Primary to Outstanding. Two other schools, Pilgrim’s Way Canterbury, and Copperfields Academy also in Gravesham, were taken out of Special Measures. All the last six are academies. By coincidence two of these, Chantry (Greenacre Academy Trust) and Pilgrim’s Way (Village Academy Trust) are advertisers on this website, both Academy Trusts taking over after previous failed conversions, the other four Trusts inheriting their schools directly from KCC control. 

    Chantry             Pilgrims Way    

     Cliftonville

    You will find a summary of the current position for Kent schools written by Mr Patrick Leeson, Director of Education, here, although it omits the most recent Inspections of schools that have become academies and not been re-inspected, following government practice. The Kent schools affected include 11 who were judged Inadequate in their most recent Inspection.

    In Medway, just 8 primary schools were inspected with a slight decline in performance, and still well below national levels. One Medway Primary school was found Outstanding, Cliffe Woods Primary, for the second time. Gordon Children's Academy Junior School improved by two Grades to Good, matching the Infant School which retained its Good status. 

     
    Of the  22 Kent and Medway secondary schools inspected, 17 were found Good, five Requiring Improvement, with just one change from the schools' previous assessments.
    Read more...
    Written on Saturday, 15 April 2017 19:39 Be the first to comment! Read 373 times