Taken before the Education and Skills Committee
on Monday 23 June 2003
Mr Barry Sheerman, in the Chair
Memoranda submitted by National Union of Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers and NASUWT
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: MR D McAVOY, General Secretary, National Union of Teachers (NUT), MR E O'KANE, General Secretary, NASUWT, MRS M THOMPSON, Head of Policy, Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) and MRS D SIMPSON, Senior Professional Officer, Professional Association of Teachers (PAT), examined.
Q281 Chairman: Ladies and gentlemen, now we are all settled down, apologies for a slightly later start. We have just been putting the final touches to the Committee's investigation into our Education White Paper, but we are all feeling very cheerful as we now have that behind us and we can get back to our main inquiry for this year which is on secondary education. Thank you very much, all of you who are extremely busy people, for spending time to come before the Committee to talk about teacher recruitment and retention. May I welcome some fairly familiar faces, Doug McAvoy and Eamonn O'Kane, whom we have seen before, Meryl we all know and I think it is the first time Deborah has been before the Committee, so we shall be very pleased to hear what you have to say. We have let a couple of the members of the Committee go because there is also a full debate this afternoon on education, as you will see from the monitor, on student finance, so apologies on that. If witnesses would like to say anything briefly on recruitment and retention to start, we would welcome that, otherwise we could get straight into questions. What do you prefer?
Mr O'Kane: I prefer to go straight into questions, but I cannot speak on behalf of my colleagues.
Mr McAvoy: Sometimes you can; I am happy to do that as well.
Mrs Thompson: Fine.
Mrs Simpson: Fine.
Q282 Chairman: Good, we will go straight into the question session then. We are right into this part. As you know the year's report has four headings, so we started with specialist schools and we have reported that out and we have written up the pupil achievement part. Now, this one, where it seemed only such a short time ago that there was a crisis in recruitment and retention, but the evidence we are getting is that we are not using the word "crisis" any longer, people seem to be much happier about the level both of recruitment and retention; rather than a crisis, people are coming before us feeling reasonably content about the present situation. Would you agree with that analysis?
Mr O'Kane: In comparison with the situation four or five years ago there is a certain justification for making that observation. On the other hand, I do believe that the figures we see sometimes disguise more than they clarify. For example, on the issue of retention, when you look at the figures, you do see that the turnover is increasing, furthermore, particularly in secondary education, there is a growing problem in terms of mismatch between the teachers of specialist subjects and the subjects which they are down to teach. There has not been a survey of that in recent years and that is something which needs to be looked at. I suppose the most comprehensive survey of teacher opinion, which was conducted by the GTC and which I know you have already heard evidence from, did show that there was a major problem in terms of teacher morale and that in itself must affect their view of the profession and their desire to stay in it or not and to contribute to it in a positive way. I do believe that it is important for the Committee to look underneath the surface, as it were, of the figures and perhaps the somewhat more sanguine views of the situation at the moment. When you look at it, I do believe you do see, not a universally depressing picture, it would be wrong to give that impression, but nevertheless there is, amongst many teachers in the country at the moment, a strong feeling of frustration, a feeling that their own professional skills, their own professional autonomy, have been undermined by the tremendous raft of government initiatives, which has come in under this government and previous governments. The issue of the context, the environment in which many teachers operate, I am thinking here particularly of pupil behaviour and so on, is one which we find of increasing importance in the attitude teachers take to their profession. Often you find, when you question teachers more closely, that underneath even complaints about excessive workloads, which are real and which are now being addressed, there is this issue of pupil behaviour and the relationship they have with their pupils and the increasing difficulties which many of them experience. That is a fundamental issue which is not easy to resolve, nobody claims that for a second, but nevertheless it is one which has to be addressed. That is linked to the issue of those teachers who teach in more challenging schools and I believe they really deserve special attention in terms of the morale and the difficulties of the job which they have. Take these together, take the question of pupil behaviour, take the question of excessive workload, take the question of professional autonomy and, not least, ultimately the question of salary and pay, which tends not to be at the forefront of their concerns but is still there, take all these in the round, while the picture has changed over the last number of years, for the better in some respects, I still believe that in the bulk of our schools there is a widespread feeling, amongst many teachers anyway, that if they had an opportunity to leave the profession they would probably take it.
Q283 Chairman: Meryl, would you go along with that? It is certainly not exactly what we are picking up in the evidence so far.
Mrs Thompson: The idea that the crisis has receded would be premature. I agree that there is still a very volatile situation which could very easily be affected by, for example, the recent announcement of the extension of teachers' retirement age until 65, which may have quite a dramatic effect on those close to retirement. Certainly our concerns would be that we do need to watch very carefully the impact of the funding implications of higher education on whether that means that the public sector is disadvantaged by that and we would like to see that monitored so that we can see whether the increased burden of debt which passes to trainees and those entering teaching impacts on recruitment. One of our major concerns at the moment is the amalgamating of earmarked funding for early professional development, for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) and indeed for the whole of CPD, into school funding, particularly at a time when schools are announcing deficit budgets. Our members are really concerned that many of the motivating factors which do support the retention, particularly of new entrants, could be harmed by the fact that there is no longer to be separate indications of the funding which will support them. That is solved when in fact the management ethos supports professional development and career progression. Unfortunately there are many schools, either because their budgets are so tight they cannot find the monies for professional development, or schools where perhaps they are rather more cavalier about that and we are very concerned that those motivational effects of having access to sabbaticals, for example, professional bursaries, earmarked funding for your own development, may go. We cannot be quite so sanguine that we have solved the problems, because there is a whole series of new potential problems around the corner and those are some of them.
Q284 Chairman: Doug, would you agree with that? Some people giving evidence to this Committee have suggested that one of the great weaknesses of the professional development of teachers is just that, the early years. If you compare what happens to a teacher, who comes into teaching, they are dropped into a school. Some of the evidence from Professor Smithers' work and case studies suggests that people felt they were dropped into a school, very little mentoring, very little help in settling down, whereas someone who joins Price Waterhouse Coopers has for three to five years constant evaluation of progress, support, keeping them in the profession and integrating them into the profession through the difficult times and through the better times. Is it not a comment on teachers and perhaps teacher unions that you have not actually come up with a kind of cohesive approach to those early years and you lose a lot of people from the profession because of that.
Mr McAvoy: May I just address your very first question? I think there is still a crisis. I do not agree, if you are getting a picture that the crisis has gone. I suppose you might be able to establish that the crisis is less than it was, but it is still a crisis because we cannot recruit sufficient numbers and the figures show that there are still going to be shortages against government targets for recruitment into secondary teaching posts in certain subjects and we certainly cannot retain. All of the evidence demonstrates that teachers will come in and then they will leave. They may be here for three years or fewer than that, but perhaps within three to five years a very large number will have left the profession. That has not changed very much since we first commissioned the survey and the study from Alan Smithers and Patricia Robinson, which in a sense is what has caused your work. When I read all the other evidence and the questioning, it constantly comes back to that study. We are glad we have triggered off that interest by the work we commissioned. I do not think the factors which are critical have changed very much. Those factors are: can we recruit enough and can we retain those we recruit? There is still a crisis. The turnover has become a big concern for us. The evidence which was given to you by NEOST confirms that. They talk about where the areas of greatest turnover are and they were geographic, they were sector, they were subject areas and they were age groups. So there is a pattern there about retention and turnover. Unless we can solve that, unless we can declare quickly that we have a programme for the solution of that, then we are not going to attract more and we are not going to retain those who come in. I agree with Meryl, that there must be some mornings when those who work for the TTA wish they had never woken up. Here they are to recruit and they read in the press the declarations of government on such matters as pensions, or no sixth forms in secondary schools, all in the sixth form colleges. They must ask themselves how they can continue to recruit and retain against this message from government. They must despair. There are all kinds of things which need to be done, but I support Eamonn when he says that four factors were identified in that very early study: workload, behaviour, government initiatives and pay. Unless they are addressed, you may find that you can argue the crisis is smaller or bigger, but the crisis will be there: you will not be able to recruit and retain sufficient qualified teachers. You then talk about people being dropped into a school and, provocatively, you say that the teachers' unions have done nothing about it.
Q285 Chairman: They could perhaps do more.
Mr McAvoy: We thought we had done a lot when the James report was published in the 1970s. If you, as a Select Committee, could re-visit the James report and put it back in place, with the promise of sabbaticals for teachers, or professional development, which the National Union of Teachers wants - we do want it - and be willing to join us in campaigning for that, it would help us to get it. If we did get it, yes, it would change the image of teaching. It would restore some of the professional concepts of teaching as a career, because you would be saying to those who come in, that they are not going to be dropped in this and left, which they should not be anyway, because there is an induction programme and we fought for induction through the working parties of ACAS. Some of it is not being delivered because there is not the money to deliver it, because they cannot be released from the full timetable and they cannot have mentors and they cannot visit other schools. So have a little study about that, find out what the shortcomings are. We have no problems with what we have been arguing for. The things we think should be in place are a very professional structured system of induction, linked to progressive, continuing professional development, with sabbaticals, for which they can be released, not leaving others to carry out their teaching work, not getting away in some schools for professional development and not in others. If you sign up to that, you might help us to get them. I do not think there is any fault on the NUT - I cannot speak for my colleagues - about our desire for a proper system of professional development and induction.
Mrs Simpson: I would echo what colleagues have said. It is not so much that new teachers, when they begin teaching are dropped into the school situation, certainly they should not be. We feel that the mechanisms are there to support new teachers and we thought we were going along a path of providing more support for teachers in the first five years of their careers, which is the time when, statistically, the largest fall-out comes. What we find now is that because of changes in funding, what we thought was going to be a support package through the CPD strategy, is now going to go into school funds and whether or not that will find its way into the place for which it was intended is questionable, with the best will in the world. The question of teacher morale, which colleagues have touched upon, is very important. It is important to give new teachers the right start and the induction process is there and yes, it is hit and miss; the message we are getting from our NQT members is that it is hit and miss. In some schools they get extremely good induction and in some schools circumstances, be they financial or management circumstances or otherwise, mean they have a harder time. That should not be the case, but too often young teachers are left feeling that they have been dropped into it. The CPD strategy group, of which some of us here are members, have been putting together a package of support for teachers in the first five years of teaching, which we felt would give them the opportunities that they needed to develop during that period. One of the things which contributes to morale is support and feeling support is there and feeling that the opportunity for professional development is there. If that is now going to be eroded, as some of the sabbaticals and the research bursaries are being eroded, which were things which fed in to teachers' careers at various strategic places to raise morale, to give them the feeling that something is there for them and that they can develop and they can move on, it is crucial that those kinds of things remain, otherwise we are going to see morale declining. Although we might not see such a big turnover of teachers, it has already been mentioned that morale amongst mid-career teachers can be so low that they feel and say when asked that if they had the opportunity to leave teaching they would. That is not the kind of workforce we want in schools. We want a motivated workforce in schools, not one which is looking for the first opportunity to get out. Those support structures have to be there, along with solutions, dare we say, to the four points Doug McAvoy has mentioned. Those are the things quoted by teachers who leave as being the reasons for leaving: workload, pupil behaviour, salary, etcetera. You have heard it before.
Chairman: Thank you for those opening answers.
Q286 Jonathan Shaw: What are the characteristics of those schools most affected by turnover?
Mr O'Kane: I think you will find that geography plays a large part in the schools which are most affected by turnover, London and the South-East particularly have a much higher turnover rate than elsewhere in the country. It is also interesting to note that London, unlike the rest of the country, will actually have more youngsters in secondary schools in 2010 than it has now and that is a contrast to other parts of the country. London in many ways has quite an important issue in terms of its own future in relation to teachers. That is one thing. The characteristic of schools where possibly there is a bigger turnover may well be schools in special measures. Though I do not actually have any statistical proof of that, my instinct would be that is the case because the problems there for teachers are immense. They are linked to several features, the degree of accountability to which those teachers will be subjected in terms of frequent and regular visits from Ofsted and HMI, which places tremendous pressure on them, the degree of record keeping and target setting that will be an inherent part of a school like that, places great pressure on the teachers. This big issue of pupil behaviour will of course also play a very clear part in that. Something which may not necessarily be the case, but one suspects it might be, is when there might not necessarily be a very good join between teacher specialisms and the actual degree or professional skills of the teachers in terms of their qualifications. That may disjoint. In many ways it might be a mistake, if I may say so, to concentrate specifically on those schools. They do have quite specific problems which have to be addressed, in particular, for example, the question of funding those schools, the question about the small pupil:teacher ratios are absolutely crucial.
Q287 Jonathan Shaw: Do you think we should pay teachers in those schools more?
Mr O'Kane: In some respects that has happened, but I do believe it is a serious question that we have to address as a union. It is true that teaching in such schools is extremely difficult and ought to be recognised in the salary structure and the salary structure should be so geared as to recognise that fact.
Q288 Jonathan Shaw: We heard evidence before effectively saying that if we are to get the very best teachers into the most difficult schools then we have to pay more, but in your written evidence to us you are saying that the incentives lack transparency and equity and are a source of resentment amongst teachers who are eligible for them. You have just said to me that it is something we need to look at.
Mr O'Kane: No, what we were referring to there was the "golden hellos" and "golden handcuffs" and all the rest of it, which have been a mish-mash of measures which we believe have had an effect, not on retaining teachers, but in creating this quite inchoate system of payments which is leading to ill-feeling amongst teachers. The point I should like to emphasise is that teachers in schools like this need to be extremely well supported. This is where we touch upon an issue which hopefully may have beneficial effects in terms of raising teacher morale. It means measures which will address the excessive workload of teachers. Teachers in schools like that have particularly heavy workloads, often a heavy degree of accountability and there is the whole question of behaviour management and so on. They can support them, through the employment of more teachers in those schools and also through the use of other staff to help them in their particular task, and that is why I believe at the end of the day it does come down to a question of funding and a recognition that such schools have particular problems. I believe that the LMS system sometimes has a regressive effect on the funding of such schools. Those schools in many ways are entitled to a disproportionate funding in order to compensate them for the real difficulties which they face daily. That goes wider than the differential payment of teachers in such schools.
Mrs Thompson: I should like to turn it round the other way, not looking at the characteristics of schools with high mobility, but the characteristics of those in which teachers want to remain teaching. From the research by the London Metropolitan University, what they are looking for is an ethos inside the school which is to do with supporting teachers and providing provisions for them. Clearly in schools which have peculiarly difficult circumstances that is not going to be relevant, but what we would want to emphasise is what the Audit Commission says and that is that teachers and people in the public sector in general leave because of negative experiences rather than compelling alternatives. For example, the research on NQTs suggests that where in fact you have the support of an induction tutor and they are accessible to you, 49 per cent of those NQTs said they enjoyed their first year of teaching compared with 13 per cent when that was not the case. You are looking at internal characteristics of schools, which actually make them places where teachers want to remain working, which is the reverse of that which makes teachers more mobile. We would want to emphasise the importance of the nature and characteristics of managing schools as organisations which do impact upon both retention generally and on mobility.
Mr McAvoy: May I address it from two different positions? The first is in a sense before we get to the point of analysing what criteria within a school might attract people to stay, and equally the reverse, how can we get more of those who train and complete their course into schools? Currently there is a massive gap between those who complete their course and qualify and those who enter.
Q289 Jonathan Shaw: Some of them do not go in the first year, do they? We have questions about the collecting of data and there have been complaints from a number of organisations about the reliability of that. We do know that there is a number of teachers who qualify who then wait a year or so before they actually go into teaching.
Mr McAvoy: Maybe.
Q290 Jonathan Shaw: For sure.
Mr McAvoy: I am sure that is true, but the Alan Smithers study in 2001 has a chart which identifies training wastage. It may not take account of those who come in a year later than expected but they will not account for the tremendous gap between those who qualified as final year trainees in 1997, completed in 1998 and then were teaching in 1999. If you look at that cohort, there is a tremendous gap. We may differ as to what that percentage is, but I am sure we would not differ in our view that there is a sizeable percentage of youngsters who get to the point of being able to teach but who choose not to. We should know why. We know why, in terms of our original survey: it is because of those four points which I identified earlier. If government wanted to get them in and make it more attractive to go from the point of qualifying to the point of work, it must address those four issues. That is in advance of answering your question.
Q291 Chairman: Just on that point, are you not having your cake and eating it there? Your reply to Jonathan's question started by saying that the real problem is that they get trained and do not ever actually teach. Surely there must be a rather different explanation for those people who never use the qualification than for the others who are put off by the four areas which you mentioned in your earlier question?
Mr McAvoy: I think you will find I did not use the word "real", that the "real problem was...". I said there was another problem.
Q292 Chairman: So what is the distinction between the two?
Mr McAvoy: I do not want to be portrayed as having said that the "real" problem is this gap between those who qualify and those who come in. That is "a" problem, not the "real" problem; it is just "a" problem. We should seek to identify why it is that they do not come in. If they get in, what is it which might be factors and criteria in some schools which make them more willing to stay. We should do that analysis as well, but in doing that analysis, you then have to question whether you could replicate all of the factors in the schools where they stay, such that they occur in every other school? You could not. Some of the factors are about the population, about the circumstances they face in those schools, more challenging schools, more difficult schools, schools where there might be a greater likelihood of behavioural problems.
Q293 Jonathan Shaw: Should we pay teachers more in those schools than in the leafy suburb in the home counties? Is that what you are saying?
Mr McAvoy: We tried it; we tried it before. My guess answer is that we should make sure that all teachers are properly paid. If you do that, such that you tick off that fourth element, or one of those four elements and do that and as a result of doing that get more from the point of qualifying to entering the school, let us see what the problem is then and see what we need to do. We have tried payment before and we did so through the social priority schools approach and it was rejected, it was rejected by everybody. It was tried and did not work. You were applying a different salary element to schools which were separated by the width of a road, because the criteria themselves seemed to suggest that teachers should be paid more. Maybe the school needs more support, maybe that school should have more teachers in order to deal with the behavioural problems which might be rife in that school, or maybe there is another factor. You are into looking for the factor which causes that school not to retain teachers against this school. If you analyse that, it will come down to one or two of the four we have identified. It will either be excessive workload, because of bad management, or it will be behavioural problems which are not being properly dealt with. It is unlikely to be pay because that would affect everybody. It is unlikely to be government initiatives, because they are going to affect everybody. If you look at those four factors and then do what I have suggested, start by asking how you get these people from being qualified into post, then, why should some leave that school more quickly than that, you will gradually come towards the solution. I do not think paying them more will necessarily be that solution.
Mrs Simpson: I would agree with that. Paying more to teachers who are in difficult schools has been tried. Mechanisms still exist for doing that through recruitment and retention allowances. They are not liked, they are not well used and the reason for that is that the motivation for teachers to remain in a school like that is not only salary. You can pay a teacher as much as you like, if they find the place difficult to work in, if they find the place stressful, if they have huge problems with workload and behaviour, they are not going to stay there, however high the salary. We have to look at things other than salary within the school context and I think that is why in so many cases workload and behaviour come out as the top reasons for teachers leaving a particular post or indeed for leaving the profession as a whole. Salary is not up there with those two. In the kinds of schools you are talking about, the schools we would class as more difficult and more challenging, the major problem that teachers in that kind of a situation face is the problem of increased difficulty in pupil behaviour. Initiatives, workload, yes, pupil behaviour does engender its own workload element, but those things remain fairly constant. There are other ways of tackling the working environment, for example more support, smaller classes in that type of school and those are the things we should be looking to put in to support the teachers who are there. I do not think you are going to do that through salary. It has been tried before and it has not worked.
Q294 Jonathan Shaw: As I mentioned in my question to Mr McAvoy, there is the question of the collection of information. NEOST and others have said to us that they collect, the department collect and it is important, in order to understand the problem, to have an exact figure of what the turnover and wastage is. Do any of you have any comments about that? Should it be one source?
Mr McAvoy: There would be a tremendous advantage if a government were to decide it was going to collect information and hopefully do so on the basis that it would then discuss with all partners the type of information that would be beneficial and the publication of that. Over the years the government used to do that; it used to do that on teacher shortages and then they stopped the survey because they did not find the results very acceptable. It used to have a staffing survey and, I do not know, there might be one currently under way. You read that kind of study and some tremendous work is being done to which I am privy as president of ETUCE. This is saying that the lack of statistical information reinforces the inward-looking nature of the discourse. The problem about teacher supply, teacher shortages and teacher deployment is European, it is not peculiar to this country. Therefore a study has been undertaken and a report is to follow, but one of the key issues is that there is a lack of statistical information. As I said to begin with, but for the union commissioning Alan Smithers and Patricia Robinson, would we be having this discussion now? I do not know, but we did and as a result of doing that, we hope there can be a healthy debate. Certainly I go along with a point which comes from your question, yes, a brave and courageous government would set about a study which was carried out openly and in concert with partners ready to publish the results.
Q295 Jeff Ennis: In response to what Doug has just said about the two main factors in terms of inhibiting retention being workload and behaviour, I very much agree with what you have said. Do we have any evidence to show varying retention rates in terms of specialist schools as opposed to non-specialist schools or excellence in city schools in challenging circumstances as opposed to schools with challenging circumstances outside excellence in city areas?
Mr McAvoy: It may be too early, but the initial information we have is that you get less turnover there, because those schools are better resourced. You almost get a situation where the teachers want to work in those schools, either because they are better resourced, they have equipment they would not have anywhere else, they have better staffing, or because they are in tune with the commitment, with the philosophy, whether it is excellence in the city or whether it is specialist schools. The only returns we have are proven on a wider scale. You then cannot ignore the fact that they are better resourced schools and therefore they could provide smaller classes, they can provide more support, then, in terms of specialist schools, they may be able to avoid all the behavioural problems by the selective nature of the specialist school. Certainly if you then were to take a step further and look at the independent sector, some of the problems do not arise there and there is a greater stability of staff.
Q296 Jeff Ennis: Do they then have a tighter focus or mission statement which might assist the retention policy?
Mr McAvoy: No, the mission statement would be for governments to give them more money, to give all schools the same amount of funding they give to special schools. That would be one hell of a mission statement.
Mr O'Kane: This is the obverse of the point Mr Shaw was making. The position of schools in challenging circumstances, which are experiencing difficulties in retaining teachers, I believe, is that they need differential funding. The problem is that funding goes the other way and in that sense it accentuates the problem rather than solves it.
Mrs Thompson: It is not only the turnover in schools it is whether or not that turnover means that they are leaving the profession. You can have high turnover schools which is actually a very positive feature because it actually means that the schools are doing a great deal to enhance the confidence of the staff in the schools and those are the schools quite often which do have a high turnover, but not because teachers leave the profession, because they go on to play valuable roles elsewhere in the system. It depends what you mean by turnover I think.
Q297 Jonathan Shaw: Teachers leaving also means that a lot of them are going to other schools as well; we are aware of that. I wonder whether you have considered as well, as has been suggested in evidence to the Committee, that young people coming into the profession these days will have a different perspective on how long they might stay in school, in a similar way that society has changed and there are not so many jobs which are jobs for life and people do have an expectation that they will change quite frequently. I know that there is a negative implication for that, but nevertheless that is with us.
Mr O'Kane: I know that point has been made on numerous occasions about portfolio careers, as it were, and teachers moving in and out of the profession and there may be some truth in that. Indeed many presumably do move out once they have paid off their student debts and that may be one way that the exodus is even an enhancement of the profession after four or five years. The point of the matter which is crucial is that in teaching you do need a solid cadre of teachers who are there as lifelong teachers. Of course career breaks ought to be encouraged but at the same time there has to be a certain cadre of teachers who are committed to the profession on a lifelong basis. That experience and continuity is crucial and it is particularly crucial in a school which is experiencing real difficulties. It is actually the turnover of staff in those schools which often accentuates the difficulties.
Q298 Mr Pollard: Eamonn said earlier on "my instinct would be" and Doug said "I guess my answer would be" and it seems to me that whilst I am sure Eamonn's instincts are first rate and very sharp, we must not rely on instinct, we must rely on solid data to effect our decisions. I just wonder whether it is your belief that there is sufficient data, particularly as the only information we have is for first year graduates and after that there is little. I was at one school this morning, nursery school admittedly, where the newest recruit was a 53-year-old chap who had been in printing for many years. He said to me that he loved the job, it was a new job, he did not think it was an excessive workload and he said it was no more excessive than it was in the industry he had just left. I wonder whether we should encourage fluidity, more transfers across from teaching into commerce, into industry and back again. It seems to me that would enliven things. Nobody has a job for life now. I have had six different careers and 12 different jobs in my life and I still have some more to go. Could you take us through that?
Mr McAvoy: The figures are there which show that we cannot recruit sufficient good graduates into teaching; those figures are there. I cannot imagine anyone on any committee challenging those figures. We cannot meet government targets for the intake and therefore we are short of sufficient good quality graduates coming into teaching. We also know we cannot keep the ones who come in. They leave within three, four, five years, certainly many of them not to come back. There is a problem about recruitment, there is a problem about retention, which is statistically and research based and those figures are there and have been there for a long time. Add to that the fact that we have been given the reasons for teaching not being attractive, or being attractive to begin with, but why people leave. There are four. They have been there for a long time. I cannot agree with the suggestion that maybe we do not have the statistics. Whatever Eamonn and I might have said in terms of a previous question, certainly my answer was not to be hesitant about whether we had the facts. We have the facts. The National Union of Teachers has long been a supporter of widening the routes into teaching. We want to encourage people to come into teaching. We will not be able to encourage them to come into teaching without necessarily having to uproot their family life and go somewhere for three or four years. We want a system whereby people can build up through a credit type system and develop their qualifications such that they can become teachers. We have been promoting that for about 15 or more years. We are not a closed shop in that respect. We welcome those who have come in from other occupations. It might be a fact of life that youngsters do not now come into teaching for life. If that is a fact of life, let it be a fact of life. Do not promote it. We have statements from government ministers which say teaching is not a job for life, almost encouraging them to believe they can come and go. How can anyone then budget for the number of teachers we need if you do so on the basis that you encourage them to go or plant the seed that they might want to go? Surely we should start by having a system which makes teaching so attractive that they want to come in and when they come in, nothing, but nothing, would drive them away from teaching. That is the kind of vision we need from a government, of whatever political hue. That is what we need. We need that to reassure teachers who are in schools now that they do not have to work longer to get the pension they have been promised. We need that to ensure that those youngsters, who get to the point of qualifying but do not take the next step into our schools, come into our schools and we need that to ensure that those who come into our schools stay in our schools. That is a fairly simple vision.
Chairman: Let us shift for a moment. I want to focus on retention issues which we have obviously touched on already: workload and pupil behaviour.
Q299 Ms Munn: I am going to go on behaviour. There is an agreement that behaviour is an issue, an agreement generally from the government and yourselves and you have mentioned it several times today. The government has had a behaviour improvement programme in place for a year. Is this the right approach?
Mr O'Kane: I certainly welcome what the government is embarking upon. First of all, it is a recognition of the problem and that is quite important. There have been quite unsuccessful attempts in the past to sweep these issues under the carpet. There have been many examples of schools, local authorities and government ministers suggesting that the problem of behaviour is an exaggerated one. My own union has on many occasions been accused of giving an alarmist message when we have reflected only too accurately the strong feelings of many teachers confronted with this difficult and pervasive problem. Therefore it is a useful step that the government have recognised that this is a problem and have begun to institute measures to address it. Whether the measures they are producing will in themselves deal with the root of the problem, remains to be seen. It is a pilot project as you know and obviously there are lessons which need to be learned from its implementation. If I may make a couple of observations in a rather more general way on this issue.
Q300 Ms Munn: Can we just deal with the programme?
Mr O'Kane: Indeed. I was going to make a point that one of the ways in which I think the BIP programme has looked at this issue of managing pupil behaviour is the ability of schools to be able to tackle it on an individual basis, for example to have considerably more mentors, to have more adults being able to deal with problems, try to nip them in the bud before they develop. Frankly, teaching, because we simply do not have enough teachers and they do not have the time because of the pressures they are under from their other responsibilities, simply does not give them that opportunity. I think that one of the positive aspects of the proposals for remodelling the profession, which I know are a touch controversial, one of the useful developments which will take place there, is bringing more adults into the schools, properly trained, who can help and complement the work of teachers in tackling problems which often derive from the youngsters' own particular difficulties in their individual home backgrounds or their relationship with other youngsters and, incidentally, could also touch upon the issue of bullying, which is an important point which teachers again may simply not have the time to concentrate on and identify the causes of bullying and help the youngsters deal with it. There is a series of issues which, when taken together, can produce disruptive behaviour in classes which causes teachers so many difficulties. If we can have more people in schools, helping on all those issues, through learning mentors, through helping with behaviour of pupils, then I think that is a good thing and that is what part of the BIP is and they have been experimenting with that in certain LEAs where I have had some detailed briefings. That approach is one which we could look at. There is a series of other issues, but I will not go on to them, because I want to concentrate on your specific question.
Q301 Ms Munn: Certainly I know from schools in my own constituency, when I go into them, that this whole issue of learning mentors is probably one of the single most important things the government have done through all sorts of different programmes and it is interesting to hear you saying that. Meryl Thompson and Deborah Simpson are nodding. Do you want to say something on the government's programme?
Mrs Simpson: Any initiative from the government which actually highlights and acknowledges that behaviour in schools is a problem ... As colleagues have said, it has been something that teachers have known for a long time, but is all too easily swept under the carpet or the blame has been laid at the door of the individual teacher or indeed the individual school. Any measures which highlight the problem and actually go out to tackle that problem are welcome. One of the things with behaviour is that a lot of the causes of bad behaviour in schools come from outside the school, so in a sense it is very difficult in that context for schools to provide a total solution. I do not think schools can. To provide a solution within the school setting is a time-consuming thing. The experience I have had from our members who have worked with learning mentors has been that they have found it overwhelmingly positive. Encouraging moves of this type, which give other adults time to spend with difficult youngsters, are to be welcomed. It is another way in which teachers are supported. Initiatives such as this, which are actually targeted at improving pupil behaviour within the school context, are to be welcomed. They should be expanded and built upon. One of the things in the remodelling agenda is that adults with specialist training are going to be there in schools working alongside teachers, working with teachers to help those pupils who have these behavioural difficulties. In some schools it is rather a large proportion of the school.
Q302 Ms Munn: What about the issue of school leadership in relation to this? When I was a school governor in an inner city area, one of the things I found that made the biggest change to behaviour was actually when they introduced a whole school behaviour policy. I am talking about the primary school level now and I know it is more complex at secondary school. That had a significant impact because the rules for the kids were the same throughout the whole of the school and there was a clear understanding about that. How important in your view is that school leadership approach of actually saying this is how this school deals with behaviour, or indeed maybe even on a wider basis than just one school, given that schools inter-react?
Mrs Thompson: As long as that is accompanied by the relevant training for teachers. Some of it is actually to do with behaviour management understandings, that teachers themselves have too. They need to have a range of strategies to do with behaviour and sometimes it is not recognised how in a sense you have been in a career for 30 years and during that time the behaviour of children has changed enormously, so the adaptive process and the methods you might need, so provided it is accompanied by empowering teachers to deal with that. One thing that some GTC research showed recently, which is quite interesting but does not offer any solutions, is that really there are some teachers in schools who have very little experience of highly motivated pupils. The pupils they have met have always been those who are reluctant. To have had a whole career in which you have not met any eager and curious children, but have always had problems with behaviour and getting them interested is actually quite a challenging life to experience. We do need to try to find ways of supporting teachers in these areas, perhaps in recognising that there are differences in the challenges in some schools compared with others.
Q303 Ms Munn: You have raised an interesting issue there, because it is one of the issues we talked about in a previous session, the difficulties of individual schools helping teachers have successful fulfilling careers without there being any overview which might, whether it was an LEA or some other mechanism, actually say what this teacher needs is a different school. Do you have any views on whether that could be put in place to deal precisely with that kind of issue?
Mr McAvoy: We would support totally what has been said. The attempts to provide more support for schools are welcome. We do need more learning mentors, we need to have the facilities which the school can turn to and use if they get to a point of exclusion, pupil referral units and the rest. There needs to be an acceptance, which is not there yet generally among the public, that really the decision about the pupil or pupils who are causing the behavioural problem must be left to the professional judgment of the head teacher and teaching staff. There still is the problem of the prospect of an appeal committee getting involved and forcing reinstatement of the pupil which will not help education in the school. If you then have all those ingredients in place, are there other things? One of the things is to accept that the professional qualification a teacher has should prepare the teacher in most cases for the behavioural problems which occur. If they do, that is why the professional judgment of the teacher and the head teacher should be acceptable. That is part of the qualification of teaching, that is what they have been trained for and what you should expect from them.
Q304 Ms Munn: And they are all perfect and they never get it wrong.
Mr McAvoy: All kinds of people get things wrong; MPs get things wrong.
Q305 Ms Munn: We know that but I do not want to go too far down that road. A blind acceptance that they are always going to get it right is surely not right.
Mr McAvoy: The appeal panel, if it does exist, should have the power to ask for a particular case to be looked at again, but it should not have the power to call for a pupil to be reinstated when it is clearly the view of the professionals that that is not in the best interests of that pupil and certainly not in the best interests of the other pupils in the school. The government have moved some way towards us on that issue but not yet far enough. The key point however is that there needs to be an acceptance. What is the purpose of people becoming qualified teachers? It is because, having got the qualification, it brings something with them to the job. Part of the thing is to identify behavioural problems before they get to the point which causes them to be a real issue for the school. That needs to be recognised. At the same time, however, there will be different problems in certain schools. Certain schools are more likely to have more behaviour problems over a period of time than others and there is this other dimension which perhaps has been never identified very much previously of the teacher who is suddenly in a situation where the challenge is not keeping these kids in order, but trying to respond to the needs of a youngster who wants to learn and wants to go further and further. By and large the qualification of teachers should prepare them for that.
Mr O'Kane: I want to pick up on one of the points Ms Munn raised about the collaboration which you mentioned earlier on. First, your point that a behaviour management policy should be common to schools is absolutely crucial. Recently my own association and the Secondary Heads Association produced a joint model which we think meets exactly the sort of points you are making. The other thing is that when you have a policy of inclusivity in schools where you are arguing that every child, irrespective of their particular needs must be educated in a mainstream school, that can place enormous difficulties on schools. The NASUWT is very clear that of course we are in favour of trying to include as many children as possible in schools, but sometimes there are some youngsters whose behavioural difficulties and problems are such that to teach them in a mainstream school presents such huge problems that it is certainly not in the interests of the child and certainly is not in the interests of the other children. One way in which we could look at this in the future is to develop a more collaborative approach between schools. That is why the idea, for example, of federation is one worth thinking about. I know that there are all sorts of difficulties with it and I know there are all sorts of questions which need to be asked before it is ever rolled out. For example, if a child is experiencing difficulty in school A which is part of the federation, it may well be that to move the child from school A to school B could solve the problem. It could also transfer the problem, which could be resisted by the teachers in school B. At least it gives the opportunity for children to move around schools and indeed the teachers to move around the schools - the point Mr Shaw made earlier on about teachers being able to move around different schools. If you concentrate all the time on individual schools, this is what LMS, indeed the whole funding thing does, it causes great problems. If you miss out this collaboration, you miss out this movement between schools, the opportunity for the professional development of teachers and in this particular case the youngsters could move around and in this way the child is not necessarily excluded from school, they are not excluded from the system; they are excluded from school A, but they are not excluded from the federation. The federation may begin to develop a mini-LEA, but so what?
Q306 Ms Munn: That helps me move on to my last bit of questioning on this issue which is around key factors which influence pupil behaviour. A number of you referred to what kids are bringing into school effectively. I suppose I just want to widen out this discussion to perhaps even go beyond the school federation in terms of tackling and looking at the causes. What involvement should schools be having? How should they be dealing with this issue in relation to other ranges of professionals and even support for individual children with problems, bearing in mind that one of the positive things for children is, if they can be in mainstream school, it does bring lots of other benefits, but it needs to be done in a way which supports the whole of the system.
Mrs Thompson: One of the positive things about workforce remodelling is that you can actually look for ways in which you can support children which is not left solely to teachers, so you can bring in expert support of a variety of kinds, including learning mentors, which can provide that support which young people need.
Mr McAvoy: I certainly think schools should be working with other agencies. I just want to make a comment on the federation approach. I think it is a good approach, but, if at the same time specialist schools are being promoted as the way forward, then you will not get schools co-operating.
Q307 Ms Munn: Except in Sheffield.
Mr McAvoy: Generally schools will want to become specialist schools because they can see the financial attraction. They are going to get more money. They will not get more money by co-operating with the school down the road because they have lost the reason why they get more money. The whole drive towards specialist schools works against any kind of collegiate approach with schools; that is what it does, that is the consequence. It is a dreamland to believe that whilst the government promotes one concept and says to the secondary school population that it wants them all to become specialist schools, they should get in their bids, they are then going to share their problems and share their expertise and share their assets - why would they? - if by so doing they do not get on the bandwagon of the specialist school as quickly as they otherwise would.
Q308 Paul Holmes: Moving on to workload issues, in the evidence session last week we heard from Graham Lane from the employers' association and he said yes, there had been a problem in the last few years of teacher recruitment and retention and we might be turning the corner now. He thought that some of the measures in place or about to come on stream might transform the situation, although he did only say might. He was thinking of the workload conditions and the fact that from September there would be 24 things that teachers do not have to do any more such as putting up displays, counting the lunch money and doing the filing and the photocopying, all the things I loved in the 22 years I was a teacher and this army of classroom assistants were going to come in and take all the pressure off in the classroom and allow the teachers to nip out and have a cup of coffee while they marked some exam papers. It was going to be teacher heaven from the sound of it. Do you have any comments on that?
Mr O'Kane: Yes, I have. I have been striking a slightly more optimistic note than Graham Lane, who is of course a signatory to the national agreement to bring in these measures. Yes, the issue we are all agreed upon on this side of the table is that one of the problems we face in future was the question of excessive workload and that came out of every survey which has ever been conducted in the last number of years on teachers' attitudes to the profession. I do believe that the extensive and detailed discussions we have had with the government over the last number of months which did lead to the national agreement on raising standards and reducing workload have both the potential in the long run to bring down the workload of teachers and in the short term certainly will, in the ways you have described, in the 24 tasks which have been transferred. It is even more fundamental. What we are seeing is indeed a remodelling of the profession which is an uncomfortable process for some and I can understand that. The fear is that in bringing other adults into the school to complement the work of teachers there could be a danger that those adults would be substituting for teachers in carrying out a pedagogic function of teachers which rightly should remain the prerogative of qualified teachers. I believe that the national agreement which has been negotiated, which has now been rolled out, will protect the role of the qualified teacher, but at the same time will relieve them from a whole raft of tasks which you quite rightly say have been the bane of teachers' lives for many years. Furthermore I hope it will also help teachers in terms of some of the onerous duties they have already had to carry out when teaching, very specifically, for example, their obligation to cover the classes of absent colleagues, which has been one of the things teachers most cordially detest when they have to fill in for absent colleagues. That is something which needs to be addressed and I believe the measures we have put into place will do that. I do believe, and I say this quite explicitly, that the government deserve credit in this regard. It is not something which teacher unions have been noted for saying in recent years, but I do believe that in this context they do deserve credit. There are conditions of course which underlie this and the most fundamental is the problem of what is going to be a very extensive reform programme and if the funding is not put in then clearly the measures will not succeed. It is absolutely crucial that that happens. I do think that for many teachers this is the first chink of light in this very, very important issue of reducing the excessive workload of teachers, of concentrating the work of teachers on what it always should have been, that is the primary task of teaching, that these extraneous duties and responsibilities which have been piled upon them over the years through the activities of various governments should be stripped down and can be easily transferred to colleagues, who themselves will hope to have a career structure in which they will be able to contribute to the life of the school. I do actually think it is a recognition, as it is in other professions, that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with widening the group of people who are involved in a certain profession. It has happened in medicine and it is happening in teaching and in my belief, provided the proper safeguards are put into being, it will not undermine the job of teaching, in fact in many ways it will enhance the job of teaching. That is something which needs to be recognised. May I just conclude by saying that I would love to see that simple role of the teacher as the pedagogic leader being reflected in the whole salary structure so that all the accretions of salary for management and administrative posts which have been the major way in which teachers have made their careers in the profession, will be swept away and we do concentrate on rewarding teachers for that primary task of teaching? I do think these measures are very helpful in that regard.
Q309 Paul Holmes: I wonder whether there might be another point of view.
Mr McAvoy: I was certainly going to give one and I shall do it now. Your question was based on the transfer of tasks and the transfer of the tasks is not contentious. It is something where I do not think there is any difference between the National Union of Teachers and those who signed the agreement on 15 January; I think we are all agreed on the tasks which should be transferred. The NUT view is that they currently are not a requirement for teachers. Teachers do them because nobody else is there to do them, or because they want to do them, but nowhere in the current contract for teachers is there a requirement for teachers to undertake those tasks. It is not there. We have a pay and conditions document which is based on the Pay and Conditions Order which goes through Parliament and that contract does not require teachers to do those things which are covered by the 24 tasks. So to transfer them is no big deal in terms of the contract: it is a big deal in what they do. There may be lots of teachers who still say - and I have met them in meetings - that they still intend to put up their children's work in the hall because if they do it themselves they give a message to the kids in their class that they treasure their work and they do not want someone else to put their work up. That is what they want to do. If that is what they want to do, they can do it, but they cannot be contractually required to do it and that is the position of the National Union of Teachers. We welcome the commitment to transfer that work, but sadly the draft contract is written such that for the first time teachers will become contracted to do the work other than routinely. That is a worsening in their contract, but that is a minor point. The principal point is that raised by Eamonn. How can you afford to transfer the work because the funding crisis has caused local authorities and schools to make redundant or to decide not to replace not only teachers but support staff. When Dave Prentice and I met last week, the issue for us was how his members can take on this work in September when there are fewer of them. That is a very difficult equation to balance. There are fewer of them because of the funding crisis. Can it be done? I do not know the answer to that. What I want to encourage you to look at is the 15 January agreement. If you read that, you will find there is an annex to it and the annex identifies and puts figures against all the ongoing costs, not just for 2003-2004, but also 2004-2005 and 2005-2006. For 2003-2004 it identifies all these costs which are expected to increase and then says that leaves us £1.1 billion for the workload reform agenda. However, at the local government association conference two weeks ago, the Secretary of State was proud to say that we have £250 million for the workload reform agenda. So between 15 January and two weeks ago he had lost £850 million. I met David Miliband last week and he would not tell me which of those budget heads - and there are five - had been increased except one. He said they had budgeted for a 2.5 per cent increase on teachers' salaries and it is 2.9 per cent. But he would not give me a figure against any of the other budget heads. I invite you to get the figures, because if, instead of £1.1 billion for workload reform this year, we have only £250 million, every one of those budget heads is the base for next year and then the base for the year after. That is why David Hart has gone public and said that we are short of £2.2 billion. That is the arithmetic. That is not the fault of the Chancellor, it is not the fault of the Treasury, it is the incompetence of the DfES and the Secretary of State. Unless that money is put in now, how can you transfer work to people who have gone, because they have either been made redundant or they have not been replaced. The transfer of the 24 tasks is not a contentious issue at all, but if the money is not there for that, nor for the rest of the workforce reform agenda, then what chance is there of teachers getting their marking and preparation time, limits to cover and a reduction in workload such as was recommended by the school teachers' review body. The school teachers' review body was very careful, cautious. It suggested that the government should agree targets for overall workload and it put figures in. The NUT believes those targets should be in the agreement but they are not, which is one of the reasons we did not sign, not just because the targets are not there, but because the review body said why they thought targets should be there. If they are not working, they would come back and re-visit the issue with a view to putting contractual limits on the number of hours a teacher can be required to teach and that is the issue. Teacher workload relates directly to the number of hours required to teach and the number of pupils they teach. That determines how much time they have to spend on marking and on preparation and the other activities they need to do to discharge their professional responsibilities. If you do not address those, you cannot drive down workload in the way in which the NASUWT and the NUT first embarked on a joint campaign to get teachers in England and Wales the same benefits in their contracts as had been agreed in Scotland.
Mrs Thompson: The Committee is particularly looking at secondary teachers at the moment and there are probably arguably differences between the impact of the workforce remodelling on the secondary sector compared with the primary sector because it is common for secondary school teachers to have non-contact time. I agree that the issue of cover is likely to be very important, but the sorts of issues which our members are now beginning to be concerned with are what their involvement might be in the training of other staff who have worked with and supported them and whether there will be time to liaise appropriately with other staff who might be taking over their teaching responsibilities. There is also some concern about the necessary level of subject specialism of anyone who is going to be working, for example, as a higher level teaching assistant in the secondary sector where certainly that is now beginning to be a concern.
Q310 Paul Holmes: The suggestion is, in terms of classroom assistant, that they will save teachers work. In my last year in teaching one of my classes had 32 kids in it and four other adults apart from me in the classroom supporting kids in wheelchairs, with learning difficulties, etcetera. Certainly having those four classroom assistants helped enormously in doing the job in the classroom. What it did not do was reduce my workload because of exactly what you were saying about the amount of preparation and training and this was at secondary level where as a subject specialist with secondary school kids you have to make sure that the support staff were actually delivering at an appropriate academic level as well. Do you want to expand on that side of it, the classroom assistants?
Mrs Thompson: Less work is being done on the arrangements in the secondary sector and for some secondary teachers working with any other adult in the classroom will be quite new. There is a learning curve in the secondary sector which possibly is not there in the primary sector. What you said essentially would reflect what our members would be concerned about, that it is a more complex task to direct and supervise the work of others, particularly when you need to be reassured both of their skills, if you are not in the class with them, and also that their specialist knowledge is sufficient for you to have confidence and take accountability for what it is they are going to be teaching.
Q311 Paul Holmes: So while improving educational delivery, it could actually increase teacher workload rather than decrease it.
Mrs Thompson: It is an open question yet as to exactly what it looks like in the future.
Mr O'Kane: I am sorry, I entirely disagree. I find it a remarkable proposition that teacher organisations would sign up to an agreement which actually ends in increasing their workload rather than decreasing it when the whole point of the exercise is to reduce workload. I know some curious descriptions are attached to teacher unions at some times, but I do not actually believe they are incapable of understanding their real interests. I do not accept the proposition that you are advancing. I understand that in certain circumstances there could be a problem in allocating work of non-teaching staff, but the agreement provides and the new regulations which will come in on the higher level teaching assistants, for the supervision of many of these support staff by other support staff. One of the things which is missed here is that you are creating career structures for other adults. For the first time, the work of other adults in schools has been recognised in a way which I find remarkable and is shared by my colleagues elsewhere. It is a good development, it is not a threat. We have had people helping out in secondary schools for years, lab assistants, language assistants, and the idea that they have added to the workload of teachers is a nonsensical proposition with the greatest respect. Like many of my colleagues, we find ourselves having great difficulty absorbing the message we are getting from some quarters that, whatever reservations one might have about the funding, the measures which have been brought in, which actually reflect the objectives of every teacher organisation sitting at this table and which have been passed at conference after conference since time immemorial, are now actually being implemented, that is then to be met with a whole range of doubts and hesitations. I just frankly find this a negative message to give to those of my colleagues who believe in trade unions.
Mr McAvoy: I just want to come back on the question you asked from your own experience. We have said all along that we welcome the use of teaching assistants and in our primary schools our members are encouraged to work alongside the teaching assistant, particularly in the literacy and numeracy areas and they do so and they enjoy it and they benefit from it. They do not necessarily benefit from it by a reduced workload, but they do benefit from it by seeing the benefit the youngsters in the classes get by having that other person there. Because they are professionals, they say that is good, but it is not because suddenly their workload is less, because all the time they have to be sure that the people who are working alongside them in literacy and numeracy understand what the next stage is and what they are going to be doing with a small group of pupils. There is nothing wrong with that. There is no reason why teachers should not be doing that, but not if the belief is that you have solved their workload problem, because you have not. Exactly the same would be true in the secondary school. Our view is that at best the solution of more people working alongside teachers is workload neutral, but it is probably to the advantage in educational terms of the youngsters both in secondary schools and primary schools and we go along with it for that. However, we resent the idea that I think was in the Price Waterhouse Coopers' report, which said that if you transfer the 24 tasks, you will save 10 per cent of the workload of teachers. That is the analysis in their study. So you would have primary school teachers having their workload reduced from something like 56 hours to something round about 50 hours. That would be a tremendous achievement and that would not be something which added to their management time because somebody else would just do it; they would collect money and do the other things. Then, when you have teachers working alongside support staff, the same equation does not work. What you have is certain things being shared and potential to do things they could not do otherwise, but not to the benefit of reduced workloads. I am not against the agreement to do that, I am against the sale of it as going to reduce another chunk of 10 per cent, which it will not do.
Q312 Mr Pollard: Is flexibility in school pay a realistic strategy for managing retention given the potential divisiveness of pay differentials?
Mr McAvoy: Not at all. What we are going to see in the next few weeks is that because of the imposition of an inner London salary scale, there will be people from the outer boroughs moving into London in order to benefit from it, then people from the fringe also benefiting from it. If you have any shortage of teachers, regional pay, this kind of pay structure which benefits certain locations, certain schools, will not work, it will simply move people from A to B. So there is no solution in regional or localised pay, none whatsoever. It is not being used in the public sector.
Mr O'Kane: Yes, a fair degree of flexibility was in the existing school teachers' pay and conditions document, but it has not actually solved that particular problem. In fact in many cases it has led to a series of anomalies and contradictions between schools. Clearly any national pay system has to have a degree of flexibility; it would be nonsensical to argue that it never has any flexibility. Quite bluntly, the teaching profession is best served by having a salary structure which is recognisable and one which is understandable whether the teachers are in Cornwall or in Cumbria. This may not be something you particularly wished to raise but, bluntly, I believe the way in which, for example, we move through the threshold and then to the upper pay levels, if we can ensure that teachers continue to meet the standards set down for the threshold, after all they are reasonably rigid standards, if they continue to meet those, we can create the salary structure which does honestly reflect the importance of teaching; I hope the workload reducing measures will also identify and reflect that importance. Where some schools are doing it and some schools are not doing it, then that creates enormous tensions and rightly so because one teacher is saying they are doing a particular job and it is the same job as the teacher in the school up the road and for various reasons the governing body or head teacher in that school has decided to allocate the money in a different way. I do not believe that meets the need of a national educational system.
Mrs Simpson: Within a national structure the flexibility which is there, if you look at it in detail in the pay and conditions document at the moment, is huge. It is not being used to its full degree by schools. The reason it is not being used to its full degree is partly because of funding, but because some of the flexibilities which are there are very unpopular. Just to quote one, it is the recruitment and retention allowances, because they are quite rightly found to be divisive. Our position is that within the national pay structure there should be some sort of guidelines as to the implementation of the flexibilities so that they are equitable and it is not sheer chance how a manager in one particular school exercises the flexibilities, whereas in a school down the road very similar jobs may be done for a good deal less money. That kind of inequity is not going to get anybody anywhere.
Q313 Mr Pollard: In St Helens a three-bedroomed semi-detached house would cost £115,000. In my constituency of St Albans, the same house would cost £360,000. How do the unions and organisations suggest that recruitment and retention is practised to get over that problem, bearing in mind that all of you said you do not like regional pay when that would seem to me to be one of the answers which would lend itself to this housing difficulty.
Mr McAvoy: One of the things is that you have to locate the present allowance system. Your report last time conceded the claim of the NUT that an allowance for inner London of around £6,000 was needed. That is what a teacher who is above the threshold will now get in inner London, but as part of the inner London scale. We think the £6,000 is deserved by all teachers in inner London, we think there should be a massive increase in the allowance for the outer London boroughs and, equally, a massive increase in areas on the fringe such as Hertfordshire. You start with that but you still have certain areas within any of those bands where there will be hot spots in terms of housing costs and we may need to devise a means by which we assist teachers to buy houses in those areas, not necessarily things which have been suggested such as cheap housing, but to have some assistance with mortgages, with housing associations, with shared mortgage purchase, a variety of options. Once we then get the teachers into Hertfordshire - I used to live in Harpenden, so who would want to leave St Albans - as long as we have all the ingredients in place so they can enjoy the job, why would they leave? In time their investment in that housing will pay off.
Q314 Chairman: Did you say who would want to "live" in St Albans, or "leave" St Albans?
Mr McAvoy: I said, who would want to leave St Albans? Having enjoyed its attractions from only four miles away in Harpenden, I could not imagine people wanting to leave, but they have to get there first and it is difficult to get there if they are coming to their first post as a teacher. You have to get them there. I think we can do that by allowances which are in line with what we have been jointly demanding and if then, on top of that, where necessary there is some assistance with first purchase.
Chairman: I want to cover career patterns in teaching and Val Davey has been very patient waiting to ask her questions.
Q315 Valerie Davey: First, may I register an interest as a member of the NUT and then say that I am somewhat dismayed at the tenor of this afternoon's session. It does not seem to me to reflect the fact that the numbers of teachers have gone up dramatically in the last few years and that the standards they are achieving with their young people have gone up. Therefore we are attracting teachers, larger numbers of them, across the spectrum. In that situation, what we ought to be doing more, is the issue today. The end I should like to take up is the flexibility in hours, part-time teachers, job sharing. Is that being encouraged by the trade unions or is that looked on as perhaps the standard mould which we have traditionally grown up with?
Mrs Thompson: Particularly in relation to the position for older teachers, who perhaps are finding that what they do not want to do is to carry on with the level of responsibility they currently have, or perhaps with the amount of time they are teaching, we have always felt that a whole range of much more flexible alternatives for teachers, which will include being able to move down without overly adverse effect upon your retirement position, the greater flexibility particularly for women when they have family responsibilities, or indeed anyone who has a responsibility other than teaching, to balance your working life, is something which we have propagated for many, many years. There is a tendency for both government bodies and teachers to be somewhat reluctant to be creative in the way they think of these solutions and I do think this means that the teaching profession is less well placed than many other occupations are, particularly perhaps for women in their twenties and thirties. It is a very inflexible profession in terms of being able to have time off to go to see your own child on the sports field or whatever it might be. We are not really imaginative enough in looking at a whole series of things which would impact very greatly. The recent example I have seen, because I have been involved with the Pathfinder project, is a school which has had the imaginative idea of providing for the ironing of all the teachers on the staff. You bring your ironing to school. There are issues of that kind which would actually do things which would make your teaching life easier, which at the moment we are only really just thinking about and not just formal things but informal things too.
Mrs Simpson: Just to support what Meryl was saying, certainly to retain teachers and that is what we are talking about, one of the ways in which teachers can be retained is to offer them more flexible ways of working and to open things such as job sharing. In order for that to happen, there has also got to be a flexibility on the part of management in schools. We find with our members that the greatest problem is not with the teachers themselves, who in some cases find themselves a job-share partner and have it already set up, but the inflexibility of some - I am not saying all - school management teams who, to take a very extreme position, say they do not have part-timers in their school. As long as you have entrenched attitudes like that, you are not going to reap the full benefit of teachers who are there in the job market, if they can find employment which will fit in with their life responsibilities as well. To retain teachers and particularly women teachers who perhaps have young families and other responsibilities or even teachers who are caring for elderly dependants, we have to look at being more flexible and that flexibility has to come from within the school management.
Q316 Chairman: Are you not dodging the beginning of the thrust of Val's remarks in the sense that the way you come over this afternoon is as a glass half empty rather than glass half full sort of profession, in the sense that here we are, the government has pumped enormous amounts of new resources into education, it has had a theme of education free at times and a lot of very good things are happening in schools, but by and large you have come over as glass half empty, have you not?
Mr O'Kane: I do not think so. I thought Mr McAvoy was making a point which was advertising the government's virtues. Val's is a very fair point. You are looking into the question of retention of teachers in the secondary sector in particular. All of us have pointed to statistics which do show a problem. That is the point and because there has been a problem and are problems - we have identified four - we have been exploring those problems and seeing how they can be dealt with. It is entirely reasonable, if I may say so, for us to respond to your questions on where the difficulties are and I hope we have put forward solutions to those. I do recognise that since 1997 the general level of teachers' salaries has increased in a way we may not have anticipated before 1997 and while the way in which that has been done may have been controversial in certain parts of the profession, equally there is a recognition there. My point to Kerry was that we want to build upon that in terms of the upper pay spread, but I do make the point, and I thought I was trying to say it, on the issue of the national agreement, when you decide the ins and outs of that particular debate and obviously it is a debate we continue to have with our colleagues in the National Union of Teachers and so on, nevertheless I do genuinely believe that that will be a hopeful development and one that we can vote upon. We are not painting a universally negative picture, but nonetheless I think we are attempting to describe a realistic picture in many schools in the country. We do have these difficulties, which it would be foolish of us to pretend do not exist. That does not mean that because we are concentrating by the very nature of a discussion like this on the problems that we are dismissing the positive aspects. There have been positive aspects of the national agreement. I just hope we can persuade the government to go a little further and try to move to a much more relaxed degree of accountability for schools, for example, which in turn will have a significant impact in terms of government initiatives and perhaps tackle this one issue we have not addressed, which is this concept of professional autonomy, a difficult concept, but nonetheless one which is deeply at the heart of a teacher's self-esteem and the perception of how they are doing in their profession. If they believe that everything they are doing in effect is being dictated from the outside and the degree of choice and the degree of autonomy they have in their working life, which can be often to do, if I may say so, not necessarily with the government, it can often be to do with the way in which the school is managed ... School leadership is actually crucial here and identifying and developing a collegiate approach in the running of the school. If teachers do not have that degree of involvement, of positive involvement, then all these negative aspects of the job, which are present, create or produce a greater feeling of disaffection than they otherwise might have done. There are ways in which we could develop a person and I suspect it might need another session to develop those, but certainly as far as my own organisation is concerned, we do see ways in which we can develop a much greater involvement, positive involvement of teachers in the running of the school and a much greater degree of professional autonomy, which would go a long way to countering those feeling of disaffection which unfortunately are present in the profession.
Q317 Valerie Davey: May I just come back on part-time working? I decide I want to do three days a week and you are telling me management will not like that, it is going to be difficult. As trade unionists, are you going to support that approach to my manager as being new and flexible and different? If I am in the trade union and I am coming to you, that is my position, am I going to get support or not?
Mr McAvoy: Yes.
Mrs Simpson: Yes.
Mrs Thompson: Yes.
Mr O'Kane: Absolutely, we support that all the time.
Mr McAvoy: Going back to the first point you raised, it may seem as though we are always opposing things, sometimes that is because the way in which it is presented is not necessarily accurate. There is a claim which has been made that we have 20,000 extra teachers. You then have to dissect that. Let me give you some facts. In 1997 there were only 2,940 persons employed as teachers without QTS, so fewer than 3,000. By 2002 this number had risen to 11,450, an additional 8,450 people being counted as teachers but who did not have QTS, part of the 20,000. If you take those out, then the figure for entries of teachers with QTS is 11,940 since 1997, but overall pupil numbers have increased during that period. The number of primary pupils fell but the number of secondary pupils increased. If you were to take that balance and look at the PTRs in 2002 against 1997, we needed 13,166 more teachers to keep pace with the staffing we had previously. The net change, if you look at the extra teachers due to change in pupil numbers set against the actual rise of 11,940, is less than 1,000; it is 968 extra teachers. Those facts are readily available to everybody. You simply have to ask: how many QTS and how many without QTS?
Q318 Chairman: There is a little bit of sleight of hand there is there not?
Mr McAvoy: No, not on my part.
Q319 Chairman: The people without QTS do they not include qualified teachers from abroad, from Australia and New Zealand and South Africa and you just wiped those out? Most parents would recognise those as qualified teachers, would they not?
Mr McAvoy: You either believe that the difference between 1997 and now is as told, 20,000 extra teachers, or you are willing to question it. If you are willing to question it, question it against all the facts you want to introduce and see what figure you end up with. It will not be 20,000 because many of them are needed to maintain the existing PTR and take account of increased pupil numbers. That is not an advance in provision, but we welcome the fact that it has not got any worse. To talk about extra teachers, what does "extra" mean? Extra over and above the numbers or extra over and above those which are going to be needed. If it is the latter, then it falls short by some 1,800. Forgive me if I am not enthusiastic about the claims of government, because they do not add up.
Q320 Jonathan Shaw: It is a fair point. You talk about QTS, QTS, QTS and the Chairman asked about Australians and New Zealanders? If at one point you are complaining about the government's presentation of the figures, then it might be suggested that you have presented them perhaps in not the most accurate way.
Mr McAvoy: No, what we have got is a difference.
Q321 Jonathan Shaw: No? Australians, New Zealanders. I have seen them perform and some of them are fantastic. You were not including those in your figures.
Mr McAvoy: I am doing it no differently from the way it was done in 1997. We have a figure now which is based on exactly the same categories as used by the previous administration up to 1997. As I understand it, from the then Secretary of State, Labour in government said they could not change the way they counted because if they did it would look as though they had fewer teachers than they had. So we have to go on counting as they did and that is what they are doing, but they do not have 20,000 more teachers.
Mrs Thompson: Surely it does not matter how many more teachers we have recruited, the issue is whether we actually have a teaching workforce which is suitable to provide a high quality for all of the areas in which we need those teachers. If you want additional information, the Ofsted report on secondary training, for example, has said that two thirds of the courses have not recruited to their allocation, so they are still not recruiting to that level. Perhaps it has gone away, but I certainly did not realise that it had and that is the demographics of the teaching profession and the rate at which teachers will retire, bearing in mind that half of the workforce is over 45. If the question is that we are not sure that we have a recruitment and retention problem, the very first thing to do is to establish exactly what the position is and to model for the future what teachers we are going to need.
Mr McAvoy: What we do know is that schools in London are heavily dependent on recruiting teachers who are coming from other countries and indeed people go out from their staffing offices to recruit from other countries. It does not in any way mean that those teachers are not qualified, nor that they are not valued when they are in the schools. If you were to check what then tends to happen, they are here for a short space of time. They come and they move on. They do not provide the stability of staffing that comes through other sources. You only have to ask questions of schools in and around the London area to have that confirmed. This is not an attack on those who are teachers and gained their qualification in Australia, but in fact they will come under a particular scheme, they will be registered under a particular category so they will be identified. What I am saying is that the NUT, because it has asked for the figures to be analysed, knows that the presentation of 20,000 more teachers begs lots of questions. Ask the questions, get the answers for yourselves and then you will find out whether you will be cheering as much as Valerie hoped I would be. I can cheer and hope she will cheer on another point. The NUT is totally supportive of job sharing. We want job sharing and we will campaign for that. We want those teachers who are employed on a part-time basis to be employed not just for the hours they are in the school. Just as other teachers have to have time to mark and prepare, so do they. You could have a part-time teacher who moves from one local authority to another and finds himself or herself very much worse off financially because the basis on which they are paid changes and that is because of the inadequacy of the employment legislation governing that category of teacher. So we should love your support in dealing with that. We are totally supportive of more use of part-time teachers, more job share and of course we want to have more teachers coming into supply teacher pools, not employed through private agencies but employed as they are being employed in the South West, by a federation of local education authorities. They are not making a killing out of it and they have some concern for how those teachers are developed, how they are managed and how they are deployed, consistent with the Ofsted report. We want all of that and our view is that if you were to do lots of things in those areas, the need to contemplate the changes in the regulation, which is part of the 15 January agreement, which allows anyone to teach, would not be there.
Q322 Valerie Davey: As well as teachers coming here, of course we are sending teachers abroad and that is part of their development and it is a good positive aspect. I am delighted you mentioned the supply issue and the need for us not to get into the nursing situation of the agency staffing, because it seems to me that if we go down the extremes of that position, and I am delighted therefore you have mentioned the South West situation, so those are all good points and I am glad we are coming towards the end on something very positive.
Mr O'Kane: I can give one practical example in answer to your question about part-timers and whether the unions would be encouraging that. In fact, under the national agreement, for the first time, the new contract for teachers will specify contractual gains for part-time teachers who, at the moment, are simply mentioned in salary terms but none of the conditions and terms apply to them. The agreement will for the first time be specifically rolled out for part-time teachers, so that will be quite an explicit recognition of the importance which Valerie quite rightly places on their contribution.
Q323 Jeff Ennis: Changing the subject slightly, there seem to be more opportunities these days for mature teachers to come into the profession. Do our trade union colleagues view that in a positive light and what dimension does that add to any recruitment or retention issues within the profession, if any?
Mr McAvoy: We welcome it as part of our view that there should be the broadest possible routes into teaching. We would encourage people from industry, from commerce, from Parliament. You would be in the PITs. Do you know about the PITs, the pool of inactive teachers? I think you could envisage New Labour putting through regulations which allowed them to direct anyone in the PIT to go and teach. I think you would be top of the pile. We welcome them in, they bring their own expertise, bring a tremendous amount of knowledge about the outside world and they can contribute that in their lessons. We are totally for that as long as they are qualified.
Mr O'Kane: I entirely agree. We do see more colleagues coming in from outside. They do bring another experience and sometimes an unjaundiced eye to what is going on in schools, which is very refreshing. Teachers can sometimes fall into somewhat conservative habits and people coming from outside can challenge those in a very helpful way. At the same time, if I may say so, while that is obviously something we do genuinely welcome, we still have to go back to this question at the end of the day of whether we need a cadre of lifelong teachers and I think the answer to that must be yes. That should be supplemented by all the various measures we talked about earlier, including bringing in mature entrants.
Q324 Chairman: Anything our witnesses think we have missed today that we should have asked you?
Mrs Simpson: No, I do not think so.
Q325 Chairman: Do you think we have covered most of the issues as far as you are concerned?
Mrs Simpson: Yes.
Mrs Thompson: I think so. Certainly, as far as our members are concerned, the issue of opportunities for professional development, wherever they are and not to forget older teachers, even those very close to retirement, still benefit from it and it is still a motivating factor and that things like this can affect, perhaps marginally, whether you stay in the profession for two or three more years, is actually going to make a very big difference. We do not need to ignore the motivating effect on teachers, wherever they are in the profession.
Mr McAvoy: I think you have covered all the things. I just want to appeal to you that wherever you have the ear of an MP, you just ask them to be cautious and think again on the pension issue. I think that would be disastrous. The motivation of teachers will plummet overnight, we will not keep people in, they will get out as quickly as they can and the whole exercise in trying to improve staffing in schools will be in jeopardy.
Mr O'Kane: I really would like to endorse what Doug says. This is a really dynamite issue and I know it extends beyond teaching, but quite frankly the perception in teaching is that retirement age is at 60. If that is tampered with, the sort of problems we have been identifying and discussing this afternoon will pale into insignificance in the reaction of teachers. Of that I have absolutely no doubt.
Q326 Chairman: On the other side, most people we have had in front of us up to now would welcome incentives to encourage people who wanted to continue teaching after 60. If the incentives are right, if the pension can be arranged, most of them seemed to believe that was a very good option.
Mr O'Kane: We believe there are several ways - colleagues are much more expert on pensions than I am - in which we could facilitate the necessary flexibility for those who wish to do that. That is one thing and we can look at it and I am sure people will look at it very seriously. What is being suggested, that the retirement age be pushed up formally to 65 - - -
Mr McAvoy: The perception teachers have is that after 40 years they are entitled to their full pension. If 40 years takes them to 62, that is when they want it. If it takes them to 64, that is when they want it. On top of that, if they are being told that we would like them to stay longer and these are the things they could benefit from, because I am now nearly 65 I believe no one should have to finish employment at 65. I shall try to persuade members of the National Union of Teachers to that view.
Chairman: I was the only one who did not have to declare an interest today, because I am still a member of the Association of University Teachers and of course I never trained to teach. Sometimes reflecting on the evidence we have taken on higher education, perhaps you guys should have been in charge of that union. Thank you very much for your attendance, it has been a good session.