Spending on supply teachers rises to £1.3 billion

Local authority maintained schools spend greater share of budget on supply teachers than academies, according to figures published this week. 

Schools in England spent £1.3 billion on supply teachers in 2015-16, according to new government figures published by the government.

The figure represents a 4 per cent increase on 2014-15, when schools spent £1.24 billion, according to Department for Education figures contained in a presentation from June.

Nick Gibb, the minister for school standards, published today’s figures in response to a parliamentary question from Anna Turley, the Labour MP for Redcar.

They also show that local authority schools spend more on supply teachers as a proportion of their budget than academies.

According to his response, in 2015-16 maintained schools in England spent 3.26 per cent of their total expenditure on supply teachers, compared with 2.28 per cent in academies.

Taken together, this equates to just under £1.3 billion, or £58,699 on average, per school, although the amounts will vary widely.

Read the full article on the Tes.


Teachers ‘should have to pass assessment test’ to qualify

Every teacher should be given a test on how to assess pupils before being awarded qualified teacher status, according to a new report from the think-tank LKMCO.

A majority of teachers claim they did not learn how to assess pupils during their initial teacher training and many suffer a lack of confidence in the areas, according to a report released today in conjunction with Pearson.

Only a third of the 1,000 teachers surveyed felt “very confident” about assessment, and 20 per cent said they wouldn’t know where to look for information about it if they needed it.

Will Millard, the senior associate at LKMCo who authored the report, said the fact so many teachers lack confidence is “deeply worrying” as assessment is such a critical part of the job, but, as a former teacher, he “fully sympathised” with the predicament.

He wants the Department for Education to build a central assessment bank giving teachers free access to high-quality assessments and for better access to face-to-face and online training via assessment organisations and universities.

Read the full article on Schools Week.

£45m boost for young people with SEND

Teach Reception children how to grip a pencil, says Ofsted

Children in Reception class in England should be taught how to grip a pencil properly and how to sit correctly at a table, says the watchdog Ofsted.

Inspectors say a third of five-year-olds do not have the essential knowledge and understanding they need following their first year at school.

They say the picture for children from poorer homes is worse, with nearly half failing to gain necessary skills.

Heads said the good work of early years professionals should not be undermined.

Ofsted says primary-school teachers should be reading lots of stories, poems and rhymes out loud to children.

It says encouraging them to join in and learn them by heart introduces them to new vocabulary, language structures and ideas.

Providing children with the right reading books to practise what they have been taught in their phonics lessons will make sure they master the alphabetic code so they can read by themselves.

Reading should be the focus in the Reception year and reading “was at the heart of the curriculum” in successful schools.

Read the full article on the BBC.

Teacher training target missed for fifth year in a row in England

There has been a failure to attract a fifth of the trainee teachers the government says are needed for secondary schools in England.

Department for Education figures show only 80% of trainees were recruited on to schemes in 2017 and targets were hit in only two of 15 subjects.

It is the fifth year in a row teacher training targets have been missed.

However, School Standards Minister Nick Gibb said there were a record number of teachers in schools.

Geoff Barotn, Association of School and College Leaders said: “It is deeply concerning to see that the government target for recruiting secondary school trainee teachers has been significantly missed. It is the fifth successive year that secondary trainee recruitment has failed to match the identified need, and on this occasion only 80% of the target has been achieved – a shortfall of 3,731 new entrants. Out of 15 subjects, only two have enough new recruits.

“We simply cannot go on like this. There are severe teacher shortages in many subjects and in many areas of the country, and this is having a real and detrimental impact on the quality of education that we are able to provide to our young people.

“It is imperative that we better incentivise teaching as a career, not least through a cost-of-living pay increase which addresses the significant real-term decline in teaching salaries and which is fully funded by the government.”

Each year, approximatley 30,000 new teachers need to be recruited to make sure that schools have enough staff to fill classrooms.

There were 27,895 new entrants to postgraduate Initial Teacher Training courses in the academic year 2017 to 2018, compared with 26,750 in the academic year 2016 to 2017.

However, Nick Gibb said that there were 15,500 more teachers in schools that in 2010.

He said: “The fact that more than 32,000 new trainee teachers have been recruited in a competitive labour market, with historic low unemployment rates and a growing economy, shows that the profession continues to be an attractive career.

“These numbers build on last year’s figures, with 1,100 more graduates training to teach and the number of them holding a first-class degree now at record levels, meaning we’re attracting more of the best and brightest into our classrooms.

“Of course, we want these figures to continue to increase, which is why we recently announced generous bursaries and other financial incentives to encourage even more talented trainees to key subjects, such as maths and physics.”

In 2016, SCHOOLS NorthEast responded to feedback from North East schools regarding the problems they were facing recruiting new, quality teachers. We set up Jobs in Schools | North East, the only not-for-profit, education specific recruitment portal in the region. Since then we have continued to grow the portal and more than 1,750 regional vacancies have been advertised through it.

Jobs in Schools | North East exists not only to support North East schools directly with their recruitment, but also to showcase the region as a fantastic teaching destination. To find out more go to: www.jobsinschoolsnorttheast.com.


Grammar schools to make ‘formal’ commitment to admitting poorer pupils

The announcement by schools minister Nick Gibb comes after government plans to open a new wave of grammar schools were dropped. 

Grammar school Head Teachers will make a formal commitment to try to increase the number of disadvantaged children they admit, schools minister Nick Gibb has suggested.

In a response to the Commons Education Select Committee’s report on grammar schools, he said selective school Heads will commit to improving their admissions of poorer pupils in a “formal agreement”.

One of the recommendations from the committee of MPs in February was to ensure that tests were not the only basis on which admissions to grammar schools were decided.

In the government’s response, Mr Gibb wrote: “The Grammar School Heads’ Association (GSHA) has been clear that their members are committed to improving admission rates for disadvantaged pupils, and it is important this commitment is now delivered by selective schools.

“I welcome the fact that the GSHA will codify this commitment in a formal agreement with the Department for Education.”

Earlier this year, Tes exclusively revealed that more than a third of the existing grammar schools in England were set to change their admissions procedures next year to take more children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Read the full article on the Tes.

Teaching grammar does not improve children’s writing ability, research finds

Academics reveal ‘a significant and persistent mismatch’ between government policy and the techniques proven to work in the classroom.

The way that grammar is taught in schools reveals “a significant and persistent mismatch” between government policy and academic evidence showing what works, according to a research paper.

The paper says that evidence shows that teaching children technical grammatical terms such as “subjunctive” or “subordinate clause” does nothing at all to improve their writing ability.  However, the national curriculum places a strong emphasis on teaching traditional grammar.

Dominic Wyse, from the UCL Institute of Education, and Carol Torgerson, of Durham University, analysed the evidence revealed by randomised controlled trials testing the effectiveness of teaching grammar in school.

The study concludes that current evidence from randomised controlled trials “does not support the widespread use of grammar teaching for improving writing among English-speaking children”.

Read the full article on Tes.

Budget 2017: Greening will write to teacher pay body ‘shortly’

The education secretary will write to the body that makes recommendations on teacher pay rises “shortly”, the government has confirmed.

Following today’s budget announcement, Justine Greening is now free to write to the School Teachers Review Body about its remit for next year’s pay award.

Every year, the STRB receives a “remit letter” from the education secretary, setting out how large a pay-rise it can recommend.

The government decided earlier this year to lift the one-per-cent cap on pay rises for public sector employees that has been in place since 2011.

The Treasury now says that Greening and other members “will be able to consider appropriate pay awards depending on workforce needs and resources”.

Read the full article on Schools Week.

Ofsted chair welcomes call for greater scrutiny of ‘outstanding’ schools

Professor Julius Weinberg, the new chair of Ofsted has told school governors that it would be “helpful if they pushed for Ofsted to carry out more inspections at ‘outstanding’ schools.”

Professor Weinberg’s comments followed his speech to the annual conference of the National Governance Association in Birmingham on Saturday. This was the first speech he has made as chair of Ofsted since his appointment in April.

At the moment, any school that is judged as ‘outstanding’ for overall effectiveness at their most recent inspection will be exempt from further inspections. However, their performance will continue to be monitored and an inspection will take place if the chief inspector or education secretary raises concerns.

But in Ofsted’s strategy document for 2017-22, the schools regulator said that it intended to inspect a greater proportion of ‘outstanding’ schools and colleges.

Following his speech on Saturday, Victoria Clifford, chair of governors at St Bede’s School in Surrey, told Prof Weinberg: “Having become ‘outstanding’, I understand we have no further inspections on the horizon, which if you are rather shallow and target-orientated makes you think, ‘Oh, I can take my foot off the pedal.’

“I know you are strapped for cash but I think it would be good to have some inspection of ‘outstanding’ schools so we keep our foot on the pedal.”

Professor Weinberg told the governors: “From our point of view, if you push that point of view I would be very happy.”

He described Ms Clifford’s comments as “very helpful”, but told her that “there is a very difficult resource question here”.

He said: “Ofsted wants to do more inspections of the full range and breadth of school provision because that just informs us.

“My experience of regulating medical schools shows that this approach helped to spread best practice.”

Professor Weinberg added: “Of course, I think it is good for the institutions to feel that they might have an eye cast over them, and I think it would be very good for us and our teams to see the full range of types of schools and school performance and, therefore, actually inspect some ‘outstanding’ schools. But if you are going to prevent bad things happening, you have to apply your resources where they are most needed.”

Autumn Budget 2017: SCHOOLS NorthEast response

Autumn Budget 2017: SCHOOLS NorthEast response

Mike Parker, Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, said: “The Government is failing to meet its stated commitment to end inequality in education and to drive greater social mobility in deprived communities. This Budget has done precious little to change that. While the Chancellor continues to scrabble down the back of the sofa for small-scale initiatives, the education system faces budgetary shortfalls that risk harming pupils’ education and the long-term productivity of the country.”

On specific issues in the Budget:

National Centre for Computing and new computer science teachers

“The Chancellor’s commitment to invest £84m in a new National Centre for Computing and the intention to triple the number of fully-qualified computer science teachers is much needed.

“The digital sector is very much a part of the economic strategies pursued by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership and Tees Valley Combined Authority- we can think of no better place to locate the National Centre for Computing than the North East.

“In our region we have established, blue chip companies like Sage, Accenture and Ubisoft, world-beating graduate talent, significant academic expertise and the creation of the Digital Catapult, combining the research power of our five regional universities. We also have exceptional expertise in partnerships such as Sunderland Software City, The Cloud Innovation Centre, Dynamo, Generator and Digital Union.

“We call on the Chancellor to meet with regional decision makers to discuss basing the National Centre for Computing in our region.”


“We strongly welcome the expansion of the Teaching for Mastery of Maths programme to a further 3,000 schools and the invitation for more specialist maths schools to be set up. The boost for Teaching for Mastery of Maths will help more teachers to help even more children gain the maths skills that will benefit them throughout their education and throughout their careers.

“We are however concerned about the proposal to incentivise the study of A-Level Maths and Further Maths through a £600 bonus to pupils post-GSCSE. The unintended consequences could see pupils pushed into courses they are ill-suited for. Instead, the focus should be on educating pupils and parents of the long-term benefits and the career opportunities offered to pupils of studying these more challenging qualifications.”

Teacher Development Premium

“The announcement £42 million to fund additional training for teachers in underperforming schools is extremely welcome. SCHOOLS NorthEast is already advising the Department for Education on how to attract teachers to disadvantaged areas. However, a lot more will need to be done if we are to resolve the problems schools in the most difficult areas face in recruiting and retaining the best teachers.”


“We welcome the broad range of educational courses to enable students of all abilities and interests to be prepared for the world of work. The Chancellor had already announced £500 million in funding in the Spring budget and we welcome this extra £20 million to assist teachers with preparation for their introduction.”

Comments on notable omissions from the Budget:

Opportunity areas

“The absence of any announcement on Opportunity Areas continues to deprive the North East of any involvement in the Government’s flagship scheme to tackle educational and social inequality. Not only are we missing out on a share of £72m direct funding, we also lose out on school improvement and leadership investment which has been heavily weighted in favour of other parts of the country that benefit from this initiative.”

Additional funding for schools

“The lack of any additional funding for schools was a very disappointing omission from the Chancellor’s statement. While the £1.3 billion transferred from the capital budget to the schools budget in July was welcome, the Government needs to do a lot more than raid other parts of the education budget to cover current spending. The lack of action today falls well short of what schools needs to continue to provide the quality education that parents, teachers and school governors are so passionate about.”

High Needs Funding

“The Government currently provides over £5.8 billion per annum to local authorities to support children and young people with high needs. If the number of high-needs pupils continues to grow proportionate to increasing total pupil numbers, something few people think will happen – it will almost certainly grow faster- an extra £600 million will need to be found in the next decade. This is an area heading for a funding crisis and we are disappointed that the Chancellor remained silent on this issue.”