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Education Committee - Minutes of EvidenceHC 1515-ii
HOUSE OF COMMONS
TAKEN BEFORE THE
ATTRACTING, TRAINING AND RETAINING THE BEST TEACHERS
WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2011
DAVID BUTLER OBE, EMMA KNIGHTS and ANDREW JONES
PROFESSOR PETER TYMMS, SIR PETER LAMPL OBE, PROFESSOR JOHN HOWSON, PROFESSOR STEPHEN GORARD, and KEVIN MATTINSON
Evidence heard in Public
Questions 99 - 181
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
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Taken before the Education Committee
on Wednesday 23 November 2011
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair)
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: David Butler OBE, Chief Executive, PTA-UK, Emma Knights, Chief Executive, National Governors’ Association, and Andrew Jones, Assistant Director (Services to Schools) Sheffield City Council (for the Association of Directors of Children’s Services), gave evidence.
Q99 Chair: Good morning. Welcome to this sitting of the Education Committee’s inquiry into attracting, training and retaining the best teachers. Andrew Jones was texting us regularly until the point when he got to St Pancras and, hopefully, will be joining us before too long. However, we have the two of you and that will help us to get started. Thank you very much for coming.
Should the views of parents, governors and others be taken into account more in the appointment of teachers to schools?
David Butler: I think there is evidence that that already happens. If you look at the recruitment panels in some schools-I am sure Emma will agree-you already have governor influence on them, and in some cases you have a parent-governor; and I have heard of some occasions when there has been a parent on the panel, so it does happen.
Emma Knights: I shall start off by being contentious, because this is really a contentious point among our members. As you all know, we are being told-absolutely rightly-that governing bodies ought to be strategic and focus on school improvement. Unless we want the role of governor to be filled only by people without jobs, which would be a very retrograde step, we have to be really, really careful about how we spend our time. What we argue for, which is increasingly being adopted, is that the governors’ role is to appoint the senior leaders, and then you delegate the appointment of teachers to your senior leaders and trust them, as the education professionals, to recruit teachers.
Chair: You will both be familiar with this, but what we do with our inquiries is announce them, take written and oral evidence, and write our reports with recommendations to the Government. It is always good to remind ourselves, as well as witnesses, that the business end of what we do is to make recommendations, so please be explicit today about issues that you think need to change in order to help schools to attract, train and retain the best teachers-[Interruption.] Good morning, Mr Jones. Thank you for joining us.
Andrew Jones: I apologise for being late.
Q100 Chair: Do you see any desire among schools to be more responsible for teacher training than they are now?
Emma Knights: That is certainly not coming up from my membership. I am sure you will also be talking to head teachers, who may have a different view, but that is certainly not a groundswell of opinion among my members. Having said that, we clearly understand as governors that the heart of improving children’s experiences is what goes on in the classroom, so we have lots of conversations with our senior leaders about how that is to be done. Clearly, the quality of teachers is incredibly important, as is their professional development.
David Butler: As you may have heard, we did some last-minute research on some of the issues that you are addressing today. I apologise that that report is not with you. I am happy to touch on some of those points orally today, but I will ensure that the research is written up and comes to you as soon as possible after today’s hearing.
Chair: We welcome that, thank you.
David Butler: It’s a pleasure. At the moment, the count of respondents is about 1,000, so it is a reasonable bunch of opinion that will give you a good view.
On the specific question that you ask, interestingly we found that parents are strongly in favour of teacher training being school-led. Something like 90% of the people who responded to our survey view that as important or very important.
Chair: That is interesting, thank you.
Q101 Craig Whittaker: You mention governors, but what about the wider communities-parents, social workers and so on? What do they feel makes a good teacher in the local schools?
David Butler: Perhaps I shall give a bit of anecdotal view-this is not from the research that I was talking about.
One of the things that I do and have done for practically all the 13 years that I have been in my present role is work with the Teaching Awards Trust on its assessment of teaching awards and giving national awards to excellent teachers-I have been on its national judging panel for 10 or 11 years. Based on the visits and the people you meet-a mixture of teachers, colleagues of people who have been nominated, people in the community, parents and pupils themselves-you find that they believe that the best teachers are inspiring, caring, and engaging of pupils, colleagues, parents and those in the wider community. They are prepared to go the extra mile, knowledgeable of their subject, and they sometimes possess a theatrical ability in their presentation of the subject matter. That is anecdotal, but, based on my experience, that view comes not only from one cohort in a school or school community, but, effectively, from across the various cohorts, which includes the community.
Q102 Craig Whittaker: That is interesting, because when my honourable colleague and I met some students from a school yesterday, that is exactly what they told us. How good are the teachers that you come across, in general?
Emma Knights: That is really hard to answer. They are variable, but just because they have always been variable, it does not mean that we should put up with that. It is not as simple as saying, for example, "All outstanding schools have an entirely outstanding work force and all satisfactory schools have only a satisfactory work force." In most schools, there are some inspirational teachers. You ask what inspirational teachers look like: we often know that from our own experience and from how our children describe them, don’t we? You know one when you see one. You cannot say that there is only one set of characteristics, because they do not fall into a particular group.
Q103 Craig Whittaker: Is it like seeing a white bull in a herd of brown bulls, or is it more commonplace?
Emma Knights: I am really pleased that you said you were speaking to students, because I think it is when you have a teacher that all the kids say is great. No matter what their abilities or interest in the subject, there is absolutely unanimous opinion that that teacher is a good thing, whereas other teachers will appeal to some children rather than others. It may be about personal chemistry, or gender-some teachers teach girls better than others-or it may be about ability, where you have a teacher who is very good with the middle-ability children, but is not stretching the higher-ability ones.
Q104 Craig Whittaker: From what you have just said, I suppose the next question is: is our teaching community diverse enough or too diverse?
David Butler: While you think about that, Emma, I would like to make the point that teachers, just like parents, are not an amorphous mass; they are individuals. There are therefore individual styles and variability, and I think those individual styles and variability can work well within that community.
For an example of variability, I turn to John Cleese. You may know that he was a maths teacher before he read law at Cambridge. He recently commented on classroom approach in the early days of a new class. He made the point that some teachers have a very relaxed approach, whereas some have a very disciplined one, and in his view both can work, provided there is consistency. It is a question of not expecting the teacher to mix and match on the day. Maintain whatever style you are going to adopt, but be consistent in that style, and it can work.
Q105 Craig Whittaker: On the line of diversity and thinking about different schools for different stages of educational attainment in a child’s life, particularly primary school, do you think those skills are there to be diverse?
Emma Knights: The thing we wanted to say is that what makes a good teacher changes, depending on what phase of education you are at, doesn’t it? What makes an early years teacher excellent is not necessarily the same as makes a sixth-form teacher excellent. It is important that we take that into account. Given the importance of early years and primary, perhaps we sometimes get fixated on our secondary school teachers when we ought to be concentrating on ensuring we have fabulous early years teaching. I know there are advances in that sector, but maybe not enough.
Q106 Craig Whittaker: We know what needs to be done, but the question is whether that diversity is there now to accommodate the different stages of a child’s education.
Emma Knights: It could be better, couldn’t it? Again anecdotally, thinking about the Prime Minister’s comment about coasting schools in leafy suburbs, which we completely recognise, I was talking to a chair of governors recently whose head teacher had said to her, "Look, you do realise that I have a problem in recruiting good-quality candidates, don’t you? Despite the fact this is a nice school, without big behavioural problems, house prices are very high, so people will choose to go elsewhere. I’m faced with a load of mediocre candidates. Of course, I try to coach and develop them but I am not getting that real quality in." That is obviously about the totality of who applies to become a teacher, but it is also about where they are going. There has rightly been an emphasis on moving our best candidates into deprived areas. I completely understand that, and it is obviously right for those children, but it does mean that there are children in other areas who are perhaps not getting the quality of teaching that they might need.
Q107 Craig Whittaker: In your experience, is the quality of entrants for teaching improving, staying the same, or declining? What is your opinion on that?
Andrew Jones: I am here to represent children’s services directors today, but I am a former primary teacher and head teacher, so I have gone through the motions of recruiting newly qualified teachers. My experience is that the quality of entrants varies according to the institution in which they were trained. There is great variability in approach within that.
It is also worth noting that, politically, what we tend to focus on is the difference between schools and trying to iron that out and get all schools to be outstanding. The truth is that there is actually more variability within individual schools than there is between the schools across the whole system. In my opinion, what we need to focus on is working with every teacher in order to ensure that they perform the best they possibly can, because it is a simple fact that it needs to be about every child in every class, every day, receiving at least good teaching. Satisfactory teaching leads to some children not making progress, and that cannot be acceptable in my opinion.
Q108 Craig Whittaker: We need a higher quality of intake into teaching-is that what you are saying?
Andrew Jones: In terms of their ability and quality as teachers, yes. On how you would define that, we have just had a conversation about what makes a good teacher; we could all list characteristics and each of us would know a good teacher. In terms of what we actually need to do, though, I think we need to be more systematic in the training we provide.
Q109 Craig Whittaker: If you look at the countries that do particularly well or are improving at a rate of knots around the world, it is those that are being very selective about whom they take in, but that is not the case in the UK-or it has not traditionally been the case. Do you think we are going in the right direction? Is it improving and does it need to improve even more? Is there more the Government should be doing to ensure that that becomes the case in the UK as well?
Andrew Jones: There are some anomalies, unfortunately, which I guess is what you are here to try to iron out. You have got the Sutton Trust coming later, I know, to give evidence, and one of the things that it has uncovered in its research is that the level of qualification does not necessarily determine the quality of teaching in front of the class. I take your view that subject knowledge is important to varying degrees, according to the age that we are teaching. I think we need to be careful not to chuck the baby out with the bathwater, and that we do not lose good teachers just because on paper their qualification says one thing.
Q110 Craig Whittaker: Do we have too many bad teachers in the system? You spoke about mediocre, satisfactory and unsatisfactory earlier. Does that mean we have got too many bad teachers in the system?
Andrew Jones: What is an acceptable level of bad teachers? There is no acceptable level. We need to work extensively to make sure that all teachers are teaching to a good level at least.
Q111 Craig Whittaker: I understand that, but surely there comes a point when we have to say, "Okay, we have either enough or not enough." I know from my experience working as a retail manager for many years that if you took on the wrong candidate from the start, you struggled all the way through and it was an absolute waste of time and money. When we are talking about children’s lives and education, they do not get a second chance. I go back to my question: are there too many bad teachers in the system?
David Butler: Can I give you one piece of feedback that came from our research? Of the parents who responded to our survey, 67% viewed the quality of teaching today as either equal to or better than when they were at school themselves. It kind of dispels some of the myth that there is a thunderous mountain of poor-quality teachers in schools if you get that sort of comment coming back.
On the earlier point that you made about raising the threshold in terms of what sort of intake you want to teacher training, we also put that question to parents. They came back strongly opposed to the notion that the minimum threshold to gain admittance to teacher training should be increased-this was the issue of a higher-level degree: 75% were opposed to that suggestion. It may be that you want to change the criteria, but looking at the simple criteria of an achievement of academic excellence at a particular point in time may not be sufficient in its own right, because it is not just that academic excellence that makes a good teacher. We can probably all remember a certain infamous television programme that took people who were particularly excellent in their field with some of the highest academic qualifications in the land, but who turned out to be not the best people to be teaching in a classroom.
Emma Knights: One anecdote, which is completely irrelevant to governance is that my husband, who is a professor of history, says that over the period when he has been at universities, he has been really pleased to see the calibre of his students who apply to teacher training go up. He says that when he started as a lecturer, it was very depressing to see that only the really poor students were considering teaching, and that is not the case now. I agree that over time we may be getting better in terms of who we are bringing into the profession, but as governors it is very difficult for us to know that.
We know there is some unsatisfactory, not-good-enough teaching in our schools, and there is another debate as to what we can do about it as governors and what levers we have. One of the issues that you just touched on, performance management, is absolutely crucial. A lot of us governors work in other sectors and we know how we performance manage our staff. Then, we look at schools and think, "This is a little bit archaic; this is not quite aspirational enough." The idea that is not reasonable to observe your staff? Well, the rest of us get observed all the time. That is not considered to be bullying; it is considered to be part of management. I know that is not the main aim of your inquiry, but for us that is an issue that concerns us in a number of schools.
Q112 Tessa Munt: I just want to pick up on what you say, and make an observation. You say about 65%-
David Butler: Sixty seven.
Tessa Munt: -67% of parents say that teaching, or children’s experience-can you say that again?
David Butler: I said that 67% of parents view the quality of teaching today as either equal to or better than when they were at school.
Q113 Tessa Munt: Yes, I would pick out that particular comment. It leapt out at me because I have heard that time and time again in areas where parents look at schools and their facilities, and they go, "Ooh, computers," or, "I can’t do that. My children are learning things that I don’t understand anymore." Consequently, I do not think "satisfaction" is good enough. I was married to a man whose parents never interfered in his education because it was deemed to be better than the one they had, but they were measuring it in different ways, and I do not think that is anything like aspirational. I wonder whether we should accept that as a good thing, because I would not.
David Butler: The question that we asked, though, was about the quality of teaching.
Q114 Tessa Munt: How do they know?
David Butler: I was about to say. You can argue about how a layperson constructs or deconstructs what is quality, but I am bringing you today the evidence that we gathered on parental opinion in this area. I can only present it to you in that way. There is no greater degree of depth in that particular question that would allow you to make some sort of sub-analysis.
Q115 Alex Cunningham: This is about performance management issue, and I think we all agree that it is absolutely critical. There are two levels of performance management: performance management of staff by staff within the school; and governors’ performance management of head teachers and senior staff. How well equipped are head teachers and other senior staff to carry out performance management? Specifically to Emma, we see a variation across the country in governors’ ability to performance manage: if they cannot do it, how can they pull people up and help them to improve?
Emma Knights: Absolutely. The governing body has a responsibility to set that culture down the school through performance managing the head well. Obviously, by law we still have to have an external expert come into performance management with governors. In a way, that improves consistency and expertise across the piece, although that is not to say that every governing body will be doing it extremely well. If you are not a fly on the wall, it is difficult to know. Clearly heads and governors sometimes have different opinions about how well that is done.
Yes, there is a big issue in schools about whether middle managers and senior leaders are equipped to do that management job, which is relevant to the quality of teaching. Do we want our best teachers to become managers, or do we want them to be spreading good teaching around? Our senior leaders have to do two things, don’t they? They have to lead teaching and learning, some of which is by modelling and coaching. If they do not know what a good lesson looks like, are we going to get anywhere in the school as a whole? However, we also need senior leaders, particularly in this world of more school autonomy, who actually know how to run an organisation. If you are promoting all your good teachers up through the management levels, you end up with a school leader who does not know very much about financial budgeting and human resources. Generalising is not terribly clever, I know, but a lot of schools have quite poor HR expertise, which feeds into not very clever performance management.
Alex Cunningham: What is the answer then?
Chair: Sorry, Alex, but although performance management is tremendously important and highly related, it is not the exact focus of our inquiry today.
Q116 Craig Whittaker: Performance management, in my experience, is incredibly farcical in the teaching profession. Perhaps it is something that we could put on the agenda as part of this inquiry, because it is incredibly important, particularly when you start choosing who performance manages them.
Do you think that teaching as a career has a high enough status in our community?
Andrew Jones: I personally do think that it still does. MORI, for example, has done research that shows that the teaching profession is highly regarded by members of the public. We can debate what that means in terms of how they know that, but MORI found that teachers are on a par with doctors as the top two well regarded professions. I do not think there is any slipping in status.
David Butler: Anecdotally, why were the teaching awards invented? They were invented by David Puttnam to give a greater degree of recognition of teaching as a profession, and I think that from that perspective the work that is now done is very valuable and has helped people to understand what is good teaching and its value in a person’s life chances. You can always say that there is opportunity to go further. I appreciate that it is potentially not within the remit of this Committee, but as somebody who spends time in schools in this country and in Northern Ireland, I perceive a different cultural opinion of the value of teaching as a profession between Northern Ireland and England.
Q117 Craig Whittaker: Okay. We know that obviously teachers need to like working with children as part of the job, but what about their ability to be able to work with parents, governors and the wider community? Do you think that an interpersonal test as part of the teacher training process would improve that? Do you think that is a good idea?
Andrew Jones: To return to your earlier question on whether we are recruiting the right teachers, I think you have to take a step back from that and ask: are teacher training institutions recruiting the right students, are they training them well and do they have rigorous enough processes to be more selective as they go through? Again, I have been an external examiner in a training institution, and sometimes I have questioned whether some students still ought to have a place on those training programmes, so I think that it starts there.
Going forward from there, the role that teachers have to have is clearly very broad, so being inspiring, knowing your stuff and being able to work with children of a variety of ages is one thing, but actually, in terms of children’s services, teachers are increasingly becoming the vanguard of safeguarding and public health- sometimes they are the first port of call when issues are picked up. I think that training could be more sophisticated. The Government’s paper on ITT focuses heavily on teachers working in the schools to develop their pedagogy, but equally, in terms of safeguarding, you cannot become expert in safeguarding by just having a lecture on it; you need to be working practically through some of those processes.
Chair: Craig, we will need to move on. Pat?
Q118 Pat Glass: We met some students yesterday and asked them what is more important, a teacher who has a good subject knowledge, or someone who has real understanding and respect for their students and vice versa? They felt that you could not really separate one from the other, but David, from the point of view of parents, how important is it to have teachers with a 1st-class degree or a 2:1? Would they know? Do they care? Which of those is more important?
David Butler: The evidence that we got back rather suggests that they are not in favour of raising the academic threshold of entry to, say, a 2:1 instead of a 2:2. To widen the answer to that, the responses to some of our questions tell us that parents are looking for teachers to be more rounded individuals, rather than those who are academically successful. Practically all the responses we got regarded teachers having softer skills, such as caring for children’s well-being, as being as important as the academic issues-73% came back saying those skills were "very important" and 26% said they were "important", so they are nearly all putting it up there; equally, they reported that as being important throughout the different stages of education. They were not suggesting it was important in one area compared with another.
Emma Knights: I find that question quite hard to answer, because most of us do not know what types of degrees teachers have. We do not, thank goodness, go round with it branded on our foreheads, do we? Thinking about the good teachers at my children’s school, I do not know if they had a 2:1 or a 1st-class degree. I think that when it comes to A-level, parents would want somebody with a good degree teaching their children, but if I was talking about nursery provision, it would be very different.
Q119 Charlotte Leslie: This is just a very quick question. I was interested hear that the students that my colleagues spoke to said that you could not separate one from the other-you could not separate people skills, confidence and respect for children in the class from a really good academic grasp of the subject. Do you think we are polarising the two far too much and painting a caricature of an academic nerd with no people skills versus someone who is not very bright, but is all cuddly and lovely and feely? Might we be missing the point that if you are very confident with your subject, which requires a very sophisticated understanding, you are then in a position to explain it better? You are more confident in front of your class because you know you are not going to be caught out, which enables you to be far more communicative and far more respectful of your students because you are confident about your skills.
Emma Knights: I certainly think that you cannot put people into boxes. Whatever set of criteria you or anyone else comes up with, there has to be some flexibility, because some people just have "it" and they may not fit those criteria. Talking to children, again thinking particularly of secondary school, there is something to getting that respect of the class. I have heard children say, "Actually this teacher probably does have quite a lot to teach us but they never get to that point because they are too busy trying to shut people up." It is a combination of skills, I think.
Q120 Pat Glass: Andrew, the new bursary system: do you see that leading to any changes in the landscape of teaching? Could you talk about primary and secondary? Is it going to be same or will it affect sectors differently?
Andrew Jones: Potentially, yes, it could change the landscape and could help, but you can hear a "but" coming. To an extent, although the bursary scheme is new, other schemes have been in place for a number of years. So there are recruitment and retention points that schools can pay, and that has been around in teachers’ pay and conditions for a number of years. So I think I would need to see more detail in it and I would want to see how, potentially, it could be rolled out. I am not wholly convinced that all teachers are motivated financially. In other words, if we give them additional cash it would lead to a different position because it is a very sophisticated role, and particularly it is a very sophisticated recruitment market really. So potentially it could help, but the devil is in the detail of how it is implemented. I would want to see how it is different from previous attempts to incentivise promotion and work in schools financially.
Emma Knights: We were quite worried by the message it sent to potential primary school candidates that somehow primary was not as important as secondary. You can put an argument to say that primary, perhaps, is more important. We understand what the Government is trying to achieve but perhaps the differentials were too steep.
Q121 Pat Glass: Taking all of that into account, do you think the focus on 2:1 and 1st class degrees is going to give us better teachers generally?
Andrew Jones: Potentially, yes. I do think a 2:1 is awarded for a teaching degree for a particular reason. It is not just the academic excellence, it is about their pedagogy. It is about their own approach to their professional development. The grading of a teaching degree, particularly for primary teachers, for example, would link back into how effective they are as a teacher.
Q122 Pat Glass: But in maths or science?
Andrew Jones: Clearly, the better the degree the better the subject knowledge and I am sure that would help in terms of implementation in the secondary class room, for example.
Emma Knights: It also does not take account of what university you got your degree at. We all know that in some cases a 2:2 from a particular university is perhaps worth more academically, or should be possibly, than a 2:1 from somewhere else. That is why I am saying that if you have absolutely rigid criteria, you can’t take that into consideration.
David Butler: I go back to what I said earlier. We have no support from parental opinion that they would like to see that threshold being raised. What we are seeing is that they are looking for perhaps a more rounded set of skills and they place an importance and value on the softer skills. I appreciate and I was quite interested in Charlotte’s polarisation of the academic nerd versus the soft and cuddly. I do not really sense that extreme separation in the viewpoints we got back. What we are seeing is the value and importance of having a collective of skills rather than just the pure academic excellence.
Emma Knights: Can I come in quickly on A-levels, because we are fixating on this 2:1, 2:2 business? Often, what parents and indeed, children can relate to is what A-level results people got. Sometimes, if children find out that the person teaching them A-level got a C, it is not very inspiring, so perhaps we ought to be asking, "Did the person teaching A-level physics get an A in physics or did they get a D in physics?" That is perhaps as meaningful as what university they ended up at and with what degree.
Chair: It depends when they did it, of course.
Q123 Tessa Munt: I wonder whether you had, from your experience in the schools that you know, any notion that there had been difficulties in keeping teachers and recruiting teachers into certain subjects or particular posts-whether it is a subject or a level problem.
Emma Knights: Interestingly, we do not get as much feedback from governors on this being a problem as we expect. When you read the reports, I would expect to get more. I get a lot of feedback from governors on all sorts of issues. We certainly have quite a lot of information about the problems of recruiting senior leaders, and I know that is our business and therefore we would know more about it, but I am surprised that we do not get more. We survey governors a lot, and we ask them to list the problems for their schools. Problems with recruiting teachers are not high on their list. However, I would not want to be categoric and say, "Therefore it is not a problem." It may be that the head teachers are bearing the brunt and we ought to be considering that. Perhaps we are not thinking about that enough.
I think also that sometimes governors-we tend to be very parochial about our schools, so we get very worried about our good teachers moving on. However, if you think about things as a system, perhaps having a teacher moving on to be a head of a department is a very good thing, whereas we do not like it because we have lost our good person.
David Butler: That was not a question that we posed in our survey, so I cannot give you parental feedback on that one.
Andrew Jones: I think it links back to the bursary question, in the sense that I have been in the education profession for 25 years and as long as I can remember, we have always been trying to recruit additional maths, chemistry and physics teachers because we are always short of them. Again, in terms of the latest suggestions about initial teacher training and moving forward, what I want to know is what’s different. What is different this year, in terms of recruiting those shortage subjects, compared with the past? Schools have become adept at plugging gaps in particular ways, such as perhaps not always having a subject-specific teacher in front of a class or-in a secondary school-having to do a different range for priority children compared with the younger children at a secondary school, in order to make sure the subject specialism is focused where the examination years are.
Q124 Tessa Munt: This is my opportunity to say that where I come from, we have middle schools, where you can separate the needs of younger children-the nine to 13-year olds, or the 10 to 14-year olds. You can separate those.
Can I pose the question of whether you think it is a good thing that we might try and attract parents or people who have other roles within schools to become teachers, and whether we are particularly good at it. Is it a good thing-attracting people into teaching?
Emma Knights: It is always very dangerous. You talk about your own experience, but several years ago I did begin applying to be a maths teacher, but I did not get through it. First, I wanted to do it when my children were very young, and there was no way of training part-time at that time. There may be now, but I did not get through then.
The second time I did not get to the end of the process because I had a science degree, and I wanted to teach maths up to-I completely understand that without a maths degree, I should not be teaching A-level, but I wanted to be at a secondary school and I reckoned I could cope with up to GCSE. However, where I lived, you were not going to be accepted to be a maths teacher from that background. That might have been right. It might have been absolutely right that I am not teaching maths now. I suppose that is why I come at it from the point of view that we sometimes have to be a bit flexible about criteria, because there may well be people out there who want to do this. Obviously, for those of us who have had careers elsewhere, the financial period where you are earning nothing, or not a lot, is difficult if you already have a mortgage. That is a hard one and I do not know how you solve it, but it makes it difficult for returners.
Q125 Tessa Munt: Thank you. Have you anything to add?
David Butler: That is quite a complex question, because we can go back to some of the issues earlier on, about whether there is a high perception of teaching as a profession. Clearly, if one were able to do more about that, you would actually encourage people to consider it as a profession and therefore perhaps come into teaching from another career.
Equally, however, you could also look at whether we see parents, for example, wanting to come into schools, and the answer to that one is yes. Although I cannot give you hard numbers, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence of people, for example, starting perhaps to do a little bit of volunteering in the school. That might be as a member of the PTA or they might just be coming to do some reading, and we have examples of where that leads on to people becoming teaching assistants. In some cases, people decide that they want to go further and actually take a teaching qualification and become a full-blown teacher. So there is evidence that it exists, but there is always benefit in encouraging more.
Emma Knights: Can I quickly come back to Craig’s point? I know you did not have time to answer about parental engagement, which is incredibly important, particularly at the early years and primary end. There actually are a lot of skills in a lot of our primary schools doing that, but it is not universal. It is something to be encouraged. We all know that the parental influence has more effect on children’s achievement than schools’ influence. In secondary schools, we are not as good at doing that as we should be.
Q126 Tessa Munt: That needs some real work then, does it not? It is absolutely not cool when you are 11, 12, 13, 14 or 15 for you to rock up with your mum. It is not done. The contact between parents and schools is lost pretty swiftly. Are you saying that we should perhaps look at ways in which we work on developing relationships between older children’s parents and their schools?
Emma Knights: Yes. It is hard. People have tried for really quite a long time, and we have not cracked it. But there is sometimes a culture in our schools that parents are a little bit of a nuisance and we keep them at bay, and they make lots of annoying complaints. That is true. There are some parents who are green ink parents and who take up a huge amount of time, including from governors, with those complaints, but we ought to be more open and good at communicating with our main body of parents.
David Butler: May I add a little bit to Tessa’s question? We did find that parents are lukewarm on the idea of teachers having experience of working in other sectors prior to taking up a role in education, but what they were very positive about was that more should be done to facilitate the opportunity of an entry into the teaching profession for those people who want to do it.
Q127 Tessa Munt: Are you saying to me that they do not want somebody who is effectively an older teacher? I am paraphrasing.
David Butler: No, they are not saying that. What they are saying is that they are not seeing it as being a prerequisite that you have to have experience in a particular non-teaching sector to come in and teach a particular subject in school. What they were saying is that they would welcome very much more being done to facilitate people who are in other sectors and who want to go into teaching to be able to upskill and move into teaching.
Q128 Damian Hinds: Before we move off parental engagement totally, I have a question particularly for David. Setting secondary aside, when we talk about parental engagement at primary level in this country, I wonder what your experiences are of talking to other PTA organisations abroad. What people I know in America mean by parental engagement is on an entirely different scale from what we do here. Parents are in the school every day doing all sorts of teaching activities and stuff and talking about their jobs, doing reading, taking classes and doing bake-ins. I know these things happen here, but on a much smaller scale. What are your experiences of the international comparison?
David Butler: I will rely on European experience, because, for a long time, my organisation has been involved with the European movement of parent-teacher associations. There is certainly evidence that there is a lot of activity within schools in terms of parental engagement across Europe. It is actually better in this country than you might think. We are certainly seeing a much greater increase. When we survey our members and ask what they get up to as a PTA, you think traditionally that it was fundraising, fundraising and fundraising. That is changing. You now have a substantial proportion that is interested in genuine parental involvement and engagement in a learning sense. It is improving, growing and increasing, but where you do have the problem of course is that there is this polarity, if you like, between primary and secondary.
On your point, Tessa, about the non-cool issue, I have one particular example. When we were recruiting someone as one of our regional advisers, she was talking about her PTA experience. She was a very strong volunteer in her PTA at primary school and she wanted to do the same when her daughter went to secondary school, but before she got to that opportunity, her daughter took her to one side and said, "Look, mum, can you just back off a little bit."
Equally, there are other issues that go on, because in a primary setting there is a much greater degree of engagement among parents, because, generally speaking, they are conveying, by one means or another, their child to the school. In a secondary situation it is different. You quite often put them on the bus or drop them off. If we take your example, perhaps they are dropped off 50 yards from the school. There are complications.
Q129 Charlotte Leslie: I want to talk about teacher retention. The GTC and the TDA have both raised concerns about teacher retention. I wondered whether you thought that the initial attrition rate of newly-qualified teachers was unduly high and, if so, what do you think the reasons might be for that?
Andrew Jones: I do not think it is unduly high. We need to do more on retention, on the kinds of things that I was talking about earlier: teacher training, a better focus on safeguarding, a better focus on the public health role and a better focus on training teachers for their role in special educational needs and disability needs, with more focus on support in a teacher’s early years of their career to ensure that they get the support that they need. It is in that kind of area that people are perhaps less prepared and so feel the strain of things more, which can sometimes be a reason why people leave the profession.
Q130 Charlotte Leslie: Do you think that it is anything to do with how we organise our school system? I have two anecdotes-they are completely unscientific-from two new teachers I spoke to. They said that although they had a vocational drive to help the most underprivileged children in the most struggling school, the reason why they were getting fed up with the job was, first, because they spent all their time on managing children and discipline and, secondly, because so much of their time when they wanted to teach a subject was spent trying to teach the many children who had English as a second language and could not understand the language that the class was being taught in, and the many who had extreme literacy difficulties. They were not able to teach the subject, because the basic building blocks of literacy and comprehension were not there. Do you think that that is a factor, or is it an isolated anecdote?
Andrew Jones: Have teachers never before had to deal with behaviour management? It is what teachers do. Part of what a good teacher does is to effectively manage behaviour in class.
Q131 Charlotte Leslie: Do you think that they are getting that training initially? That issue is being raised, so is it being sufficiently focused on in the training?
Emma Knights: That is certainly in the anecdotal evidence that we get back. Sometimes NQTs-even before, during their training-are not prepared enough to deal with the behaviour issues. For example, you have your class of 30 children in front of you and there is all that stuff about group dynamics. That is complicated stuff and just to be thrown in-no, that is the wrong language to use, but there does not seem to be much preparation for how you manage a group of people, some of whom will not want to be there or be interested in the subject. We think that that might be a gap. That is on the basis of anecdotal evidence, but I completely agree with what Andrew said, in that it is not something that has popped up now. It has been around for a very long time with children struggling with literacy. On your point about English not being the first language, in some schools that is a big issue. Some schools are managing phenomenally well with that.
Q132 Charlotte Leslie: My question to you is, first, would there be a recommendation that there is greater focus on discipline in teacher training? Is that something that the panel would agree with?
Andrew Jones: I would agree in that I do not think that you can over-prepare teachers in terms of behaviour management and teaching literacy well. All I am saying is that I do not think that it is a new issue. The teachers who have spoken to you-
Q133 Charlotte Leslie: In a sense, it is kind of irrelevant that it has been going on a long time. We are dealing with now, whatever has gone on before, whether that is right or wrong and whether there needs to be a greater focus now-that was my question.
Andrew Jones: I do not think it is irrelevant because, ironically, it is what teachers do. Teachers are employed to help manage behaviour-that is what they actually do. I do not accept that somehow it is worse or different now than it ever has been. It is part of their job to engage with children in terms of their own academic expertise. You can say that they cannot teach because of the behaviour, but equally, you can say perhaps the behaviour would be better if they were teaching better.
Emma Knights: I agree with the thrust of your question, but I am slightly worried about the language. Using the word "discipline" suggests that there is only one way to do it. Going back to the Prime Minister’s coasting schools, some of those schools do not have big behavioural issues in the way you might be thinking. I have seen some Ofsted reports recently that used phrases like, "The children were compliant but not necessarily engaged." I think that for large numbers of children, that is more of an issue than complete riots breaking out-they are not being engaged. That is a different but connected issue.
Q134 Charlotte Leslie: Finally, do you think that to maintain good teachers we should look at a structure whereby if a child is not benefiting from the classes they are in because they have English as their second language and are not able to comprehend what they are being taught, we sort out that problem much faster with more focus, so that children are then able to partake in other lessons more fully and teachers are better able to teach the subjects in the way that they want to teach?
David Butler: I think that there are a number of examples where that already happens. I’m sorry, I’m moving away from England again. I am thinking of one school that I went to recently in Northern Ireland, with a large Traveller community. You had a large number of people coming into the school with absolutely no English at all. Yet, while I was there, I chatted to a boy who I think was eight at the time, and he was able to converse with me fluently in English. Apparently, had I done that about a year ago, I would have stood no chance at all. That school had recognised that something needed to be done, and it set up the facility accordingly. It was having a tremendously beneficial effect.
Chair: Thank you all very much for giving evidence to us this morning. If we can move as swiftly as possible on to our next panel, that would be fantastic.
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Professor Peter Tymms, Head of the School of Education, Durham University, Sir Peter Lampl OBE, Chairman, The Sutton Trust, Professor John Howson, Director, DataforEducation.info, and Senior Research Fellow, University of Oxford, Professor Stephen Gorard, Professor of Education Research, University of Birmingham, and Kevin Mattinson, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Teacher Education, Keele University, gave evidence.
Chair: Good morning and thank you for joining us today. We have a panel of five highly distinguished and eminent witnesses, for which I am delighted, but it means that there is pressure on all of us-questioners and those providing answers-to be as succinct and to the point as possible.
I think that most of you were here for the previous session. I remind you again that what we do is inquire and then report to the Government, who are then required to respond. If you think that there are recommendations for change that need to be in our report, or indeed, recommendations of things that need to be protected from change, please make sure that you convey them to us during the session.
May I ask, to start with, to what extent is the Government’s programme of reform for teaching training and supply driven by solid evidence, both from this country and from abroad?
Professor Howson: Given a chance to think about that, it’s worth stating that what we are talking about is a big enterprise. The number of training places available this year is the equivalent to about a third of the size of the British land Army. We have to put the whole thing in that sort of context.
Frankly, having read the implementation plan, I do not really understand, with the 35,000 trainees that we need, what the Government’s key message actually is. We started with the White Paper 12 months ago and then went to a discussion document earlier in the summer. We now have the implementation plan, and we have a number of different routes. It seems that we are in danger of, as you say, not basing it on hard evidence but almost on, "Let’s try anything that’s going and see what is flavour of the month this month". My colleagues may have other views.
Professor Tymms: I will pick up a few points. The focus on teachers is absolutely right. It is evidence-based and is the right way to be going. The desire to recruit high-quality teachers is spot on. The emphasis on getting the right people in the right place is good. I worry about the tendency to perhaps downplay higher education. Evidence across the world is in favour of higher education; it is in favour of it within this country. We need a partnership with schools that is very strong. We need to build on it, but the general thrust is in the right direction.
Kevin Mattinson: The emphasis is on improving the status of the profession. As for the reference to high-quality subject knowledge and however we define that, there is a debate around subject knowledge and related subject pedagogy, so the diversity of routes to bring people with other skills-softer skills and hard employability skills-into the profession is absolutely key.
The initial analysis is the basis of the premise on which it is predicated. I think that it was since Kenneth Clarke’s speech in January ’92 that we actually moved to a school-based programme where, in essence, two thirds of training for PGCE secondary students is already in schools, in partnership with higher education institutions. So I have some difficulty recognising the notion of more makes better or less weakens, because again the reference in the Chief HMI’s report that came out yesterday talks about the current strength of partnerships between schools and HEIs. We must think about what Peter said. It is about building on that with teaching skills and teaching skills alliances to move on what I think is probably already very robust.
Q135 Chair: Is the Government’s policy sufficiently differentiated to recognise the different stages of child development? Is there any danger of the Government’s approach being that everyone focuses on a secondary school teacher and fails to differentiate sufficiently with early years? Does that link to a slight incoherence in policy where, if you are saying that early intervention or the early years is the most important thing, especially if you tackle disadvantage to close the gap, there is incoherence where you have bursaries that are higher for secondary than they would be for primary?
Kevin Mattinson: Probably an immediate comment, as we can talk about bursaries later, is that the emphasis on developing specialism, particularly for key stage 2, is important. The issue about focus on the early years and whether primary education is sufficiently robust to prepare for secondary education probably lies outside the remit of today’s discussion because we would be getting into the realms of testing, and the efficacy of that.
Q136 Chair: I am just wondering whether in teacher training and supply sufficient note is taken of different requirements for teachers at different stages.
Professor Howson: The biggest incoherence is that fact that qualified teacher status entitles you to teach anything to anybody, regardless of what you are trained for. Indeed, the implementation plan goes further and adopts one of the recommendations of the Wolf review. If I read it properly, lecturers in hairdressing or construction could become teachers of early years because they were granted automatic qualified teacher status. Since qualified teacher status is not defined by restriction or anything, they would be able to teach five-year-olds in reception classes, should a head want to appoint them. That, in a sense, makes a mockery of the whole system.
Sir Peter Lampl: You asked about international evidence. The big McKinsey study, which Michael Barber led, shows that the best school systems in the world have effectively the best qualified teachers or the best teachers, however you want to define it. The whole thrust of upgrading our teacher work force and requiring a better degree is the right one, as is more teacher training. Two thirds of the cost of a school is generally teachers’ salaries and pensions. Our view is that two thirds of the value delivered by schools for pupils is dependent on the teachers. The whole thrust of what the Government are doing is right.
Q137 Chair: Thank you. Stephen, any comments?
Professor Gorard: The reason I have been hesitant is that it is a difficult question to answer, as to knowing whether the policies are based on evidence. As Peter says, the intentions and motivations appear to be well founded, but you would have to look at the specifics of each line of policy; because there would not be one evidence base for the whole thing. There would be different sources of evidence. We would have to split it up into individual items and say, "What is the evidence base internationally for this?" So I suppose that is in part why I seem a little hesitant. We could do that if we had time.
I am perhaps less excited by things like the McKinsey study and the Barber and Mourshed report than others might be. I think it is very difficult to demonstrate differential teacher effectiveness in the way that they attempted to do, and I was employed by the EU directorate to look at that report, and they accepted my findings, which were that we should not be acting on it.
Q138 Chair: That we should not?
Professor Gorard: We should not be acting on it.
Q139 Ian Mearns: From answers that you have given so far, I think there is an implication that the status of teaching as a profession is a concern. Is it? Is there such a great concern about the status of teaching as a profession? Given the limited resources available to the Government, is there any evidence, or are there any particular examples, of how other countries have improved the status of teachers and teaching that did not involve wads of cash?
Professor Tymms: We heard from previous people that MORI polls were saying that the status of teachers was high, but I think you need to look at where that is, across the nation, so that you would find it high among some groups but low among other groups. I think if you looked at industrialists you would find the teaching profession is fairly low status. If you looked among others you would see it is high. We do not have to go back a very long way to hear top politicians talk about failing schools and failing teachers. That does not seem like high status.
We worry also about people who might be going to become teachers, and how they view the status of the profession-because we want people to become teachers. You ask how you would change that, and what evidence there is, and I think that is the rhetoric that we would see from the media, from politicians and from ourselves, as to what we say about teachers-not beefing them up in a way that is inappropriate, but actually recognising that they do a major job in very tough circumstances and, on average, they are pretty good.
Affecting the status is a key thing. The status is affected by what we say teachers should have in order to become a teacher. So although there is not a tight relationship between previous qualifications and performance in the classroom-and in fact it is rather weaker than some of the earlier data were suggesting; a recent report looking at verbal ability, for example, suggested it was not as strong as it is normally thought to be-in fact by increasing the requirements you increase the status. That is one way to do that, and to get a second effect on that.
Another thing to do that increases status is to say that people should be recruited from the top universities to be teachers, so that we should be looking not just for 2:1s and firsts, but at where they come from. That goes back to an earlier point about A-levels. We want people who are able and with the capacity to work-general cognitive ability. That is not necessarily reflected straight in the degree, because it depends which university they come from. So, what are the degree qualifications?
If we look at the international evidence, and we look particularly at Finland and Singapore, we see direct efforts on their part to increase the status of the teaching professions, moving from colleges of teacher training into higher education-into high-level universities. Also, moving it to be a master profession would increase the status.
Sir Peter Lampl: Can I just say something from personal observation? I used to be in the business financial consulting world, and had a pretty negative view of teachers, as a lot of people in that world do, reading the Financial Times and whatever. Since I set up the Sutton Trust almost 15 years ago, I have completely changed my view.
We funded about 30 specialist schools. They were all inner-city schools, pretty much, so I met a lot of teachers teaching in inner-city schools. We now have the Education Endowment Foundation, which is focused on kids on free school meals in the worst schools. I have been into those schools. These teachers are doing a heroic job. It is a really tough job. I think we as a country have got to value them more.
How do you do that? I think some of the points you made are exactly right. I personally think you have got to pay them more. That gives them more status. I think the entry requirements also give them more status. I think the flagship programmes like Teach First give teachers a lot of kudos, even though I do not think they have a huge impact; but they have an impact on the status. Obviously, we have Troops to Teachers now. It has also been mooted to make them part of a professional organisation, and to have charter status or something like that could help. It is something we have to work on, because a lot of people have a very negative view of teachers. It is a really tough job: you are teaching 25 to 30 hours a week in front of a class. They are public servants doing a great job.
Chair: Tessa, do you want to come in?
Q140 Tessa Munt: You are saying what we should do, but you have changed your mind in the past 15 years.
Sir Peter Lampl: I have changed my mind.
Q141 Tessa Munt: What changed your mind?
Sir Peter Lampl: Just because in the previous world I was in, I had no contact with teachers, really.
Q142 Tessa Munt: Could I ask you to focus on the moment when you changed your view? When was it, and what happened to change your view? Because, if you changed your view-
Sir Peter Lampl: It was probably when we started funding specialist schools and I started going into inner-city schools, because we were putting £25,000 into each of those schools. We got match funding and all that stuff. I became aware of what these teachers do.
Q143 Tessa Munt: Do you feel the experience of actually walking into a school should change people’s views, or is there a bit more depth?
Sir Peter Lampl: It is more that you end up talking to the teachers and you see them teaching in classes. The vast majority of people out there do not have a clue what goes on, certainly in inner-city schools. They do not have a clue. If they did, they would have a very different view.
Professor Gorard: Obviously, the crisis accounts of teachers do not help. I’m not sure how much impact they have on individuals. Our studies suggest that it is an individual’s own experience of their schooling that affects how they view the status of teaching. It is not the only factor but it is an important one, because people spend so long in school and think they understand how schooling works because they have sat through it-a bit like someone sitting through a play. They use that.
That means two things: first, teachers are acting as ambassadors for the next generation of potential teachers, and their behaviour and interaction with students can be crucial in determining how they are viewed and their status. Secondly, to go back to what Sir Peter was saying, I think public engagement with school-not just parental involvement-could transform people’s views on the difficulties and the skills that teachers have.
I add one more thing. No one is going to argue against the improvement of the status or the quality of teachers, their qualifications, subject knowledge and range of other skills-obviously that is a good thing-but, as we heard in the previous session, there is no calibration of post A-level qualifications at all. That includes degrees, so we have no justification for saying that a 2:1 from somewhere is the same as a 2:1 from somewhere else. Of course, that also applies to teacher training. What is fascinating about teacher training is that candidates turned away from courses in some regions would be over-qualified to be accepted in another region. There are huge regional and institutional disparities in the quality of people being taken. I mean to say it again: there are people being accepted in some places who would be rejected in others, and vice versa.
Q144 Chair: Where is the evidence for that?
Professor Gorard: In terms of qualifications, where people have been putting in multiple applications and so on. I did some work for the Training and Development Agency on that, looking at where people applied and whether they had been accepted.
Q145 Chair: Is that something you could supply to the Committee?
Professor Gorard: Yes; it is now a few years old.
Professor Howson: I think the TDA has got more up-to-date information on that, because I did some unpublished work in relation to ethnicity for it earlier this summer. It is quite clear that the Government are pushing at an open door with 2:2, because it is already extremely difficult in most subjects where there is any competition for people with third-class honours degrees to get on to a course. Indeed, there is a higher percentage of people with 2:2s being turned down than those with 2:1s or first-class degrees.
To come back to the status question: there was a big sea change in the mid-1990s. If you want a tipping point, I think it was when the Teacher Training Agency went out with the "No one forgets a good teacher" campaign, at the same time that the teaching awards were launched. Before that, we had been talking teaching down; now there is much more understanding about the need to talk teaching up.
Kevin Mattinson: Just to concur in terms of the status, one of the issues for me is how teachers perceive themselves as professionals, and the whole notion of self-regulation. There is a personal frustration around the loss of the General Teaching Council for England. There has been a very lukewarm attitude from the profession to the GTCE, but I think that is in marked contrast to north of the border and the influence that the General Teaching Council for Scotland has worked with the teaching training institutions, universities and professional associations. There is a very different sense of professional identity and drive north of the border.
Professor Howson: I think in Wales and Northern Ireland as well.
Q146 Ian Mearns: Although raising the qualification bar for teaching might seem a laudable aim, is there any hard evidence that supports the Government’s assertion that qualifications to higher-degree level will automatically lead to better-quality teaching?
Professor Tymms: Requiring higher qualifications? There is no automaticity in this. If we look at the capacity to predict who is going to be a good teacher, although we know that the more cognitively able teachers and those who are more able to relate to and deal with people are likely to be better teachers, the prediction of it is fairly weak on an individual level. If you take an individual person, you don’t know. However, across a whole group-across a whole country-it matters, because then you are aggregating up if the work force is better. The evidence for that, for example, would come from Linda Darling-Hammond’s paper from 2000, which looked at the states in the United States and compared the progress that children were making against the states’ effort in selection of teachers, the qualification of teachers and the training of teachers. In that report, she found strong relationships between those factors and the progress that children were making.
If you look at the top international evidence, there is a paper by Tucker this year that looks at competitors to the United States-Ontario, Shanghai, Singapore and so on-and those countries go for the high-quality teachers with high qualifications, and those are the ones that are up there. These are correlational studies; they are better than anecdotes and surveys of what parents think, but they are not intervention studies. The evidence is there, however, to suggest that we should be moving towards people with higher qualifications.
Sir Peter Lampl: Just to add to that, we funded Stephen Machin here at LSE and Hanushek at Stanford to look at all this stuff, and to look at the evidence around the world. Basically, they came and said that there was not much correlation, at the end of the day, except in secondary school; when you start teaching higher-level subjects, clearly you want someone with a physics degree to teach physics and so on. I do not think there is a lot of correlation in primary, but I think it is a different story in secondary schools, especially as you go up the age range.
Kevin Mattinson: All of us, as we prepare for our own inspections, are looking at trainee outcomes and therefore looking at performance inputs in terms of degree classification, and outcome as measured by performance against the professional standards. I find in my own institution, and talking to colleagues across the West Midlands-this is kind of confirmed in the conversations earlier this year in preparation for the implementation plan-that there is a very weak correlation between a first and high degrees of effectiveness in the classroom. We found far stronger levels of performance for students with upper seconds. Yes, it is true that a good subject degree and the ability to actually articulate the subject knowledge to engage the pupils is key, but the relationship between first-class degrees and effectiveness in terms of outstanding potential, which is how it was defined in the discussions leading to the implementation plan, is quite weak.
Q147 Chair: But it is there, is it? There is a positive link-the higher the degree, the higher the grade on average of children at GCSE or whatever?
Kevin Mattinson: There was a strong link for us in terms of an upper second, and I looked at some work by another institution in the West Midlands that was doing the same thing for its inspection. There was a strong link between a 2:1 and training performance, but again it sometimes varies between subjects.
Q148 Damian Hinds: Back on status again, don’t we in any case have to draw a distinction between the predictive capability of someone’s past qualification and the behavioural and status-raising effect of raising the bar? I remember, when I was applying to university, briefly Exeter university had a higher average offer for A-levels than Cambridge did. That has had an impact on people’s perception of Exeter university ever since. Similarly, the fact that a healthy proportion of Oxbridge graduates now apply to Teach First will presumably have a knock-on effect on teaching. In this whole top-third plus approach that the leading systems in the world take, presumably the main effect is on who it attracts rather than saying, "Getting over the bar between a 2:2 and a 2:1, or a third and a 2:2, per se makes the difference." Discuss.
Professor Howson: I can’t imagine that the CBI would be terribly happy if we took the whole of Oxford and Cambridge’s output to fill our 35,000 places. That is part of our dilemma. Yes, we want people who are as well qualified and able as possible, but we are not competing in a vacuum, and society as a whole has to decide where it wants to put teaching in terms of the competition for graduates.
Q149 Damian Hinds: Gosh-most people would say that teaching should be very near the top. McKinsey, BCG and Goldman Sachs can fight their own battles, but in society, we want teaching to be very high up on that list of priorities, don’t we?
Professor Howson: Then this Committee must recommend that the Government take actions to achieve that. As someone has already said, pay may well be one of those actions.
Professor Tymms: The selection should not be only on cognitive ability; it has to be on other criteria too. In Durham, we have looked at the entrance to the primary BA and we do interviews-structured interviews-when people start, which are designed to pick out what people know. Two people-one from a school and one from the university-are interviewing. We track those students through, and those results act as a good predictor, both of the degree at the end, and of the performance in the classroom as assessed at the end of three years. The A-levels predict academic performance, but not performance in the classroom. We need a combination of those things.
Going back to Hanushek, I was pleased to see that the Sutton Trust had employed him. He is an economist working in education, who asked how we improve the education system. In his calculation, he says that if we improve the teaching intake by just a few per cent and do it over a decade or longer, that in itself can gradually ratchet up the way things operate. It was a very interesting paper. You cannot suddenly transform the system and pick out the exact person, but you can alter it, in general, by gradually moving it up.
Sir Peter Lampl: To follow up on that, the work that Machin and Hanushek did for us looked at taking the bottom 10% of teachers in the UK and getting them to average over a 10-year period. If we did that, our ranking in PISA would move from 22nd in maths to fifth, and from about the same in literacy to third. The leverage for improving your current teacher work force is clearly much greater than that for new recruits, because there are 450,000 out there and it takes a while to get 35,000 or 40,000 new recruits up to speed on the current teacher workforce-that’s where our focus should be.
Q150 Damian Hinds: That may also raise a question about accelerating the churn, which we might come to later.
Professor Howson: A recent research paper from the Department looks at the percentage of children who are below the floor at key stage 2. It is quite clear that a decade ago, schools in London were struggling for staffing at all levels. They were finding it difficult and were employing lots of overseas-trained and unqualified teachers. The results were evident. If you look at the results now, London is the best-performing urban area in the country. It is outperforming areas such as Yorkshire and the Humber, which have no difficulty in recruiting teachers, by a country mile. So there is a lot of evidence that if you let the qualifications slip, you run into a problem, either immediately or further down the line-particularly in the primary sector. I come back to the point that, frankly, what goes on in training does not matter, because schools can employ anyone with qualified teacher status to teach anything.
Q151 Chair: Sir Peter, can you tell us what insights your recent survey on teacher impact has given us?
Sir Peter Lampl: Do you mean the one I just quoted-the Machin and Hanushek survey?
Sir Peter Lampl: The main finding was that if you upgraded the current teacher work force, you would have an enormous impact on the education that kids are getting. I suppose that the follow-up is that we are looking at how we do that. I got an introduction to Jeb Bush in Florida, and we have been talking about what they have been doing there. In Florida, about 50% of teacher assessment is based on pupil performance, 25% on peer review and 25% on the head review. Every year, teachers are assessed. They are put into four categories: outstanding, good, average and below average. Average and below average have to have teacher training and development every year. If you are below average for two years in a row or two out of three years, you are out. This has now been implemented in Florida. There was obviously a tough fight with the unions but it has gone in.
Q152 Chair: Sorry, below average?
Sir Peter Lampl: You are unsatisfactory-
Q153 Chair: I was going to say, you are not in that argument, "We will not rest until every teacher is above average"?
Sir Peter Lampl: Let’s call it unsatisfactory.
Sir Peter Lampl: We think something like that-that we should be doing something very systematic to upgrade our teacher work force. I have a very optimistic view of the world. I think that most people, if they are properly trained, properly motivated and properly led, will do a good job. So I don’t think the answer is to go fire 10% of teachers. Obviously some of those will never make it, but most of those will become good teachers.
Q154 Chair: But the first step, having got the evidence for the insight, is to identify those people. Do we have the data to identify those teachers in order to make sure that we channel limited resource to them in order to provide them with the additional training and support that they require?
Sir Peter Lampl: There are better experts than me. I am not sure that we do have very good teacher evaluation in this country along the lines of what we have been talking about that is going on in Florida. But we have more experts here.
Q155 Chair: Who would like to pick up on that one?
Professor Tymms: We don’t have good evidence and it is difficult to pick up. There is observation in the classroom. That is one way. But opinions differ on observation in the classroom, and the reliability of two observers is often much lower than we would like it to be. In terms of pupil progress, we don’t have data on the progress of children within one year, with one teacher. The closest you might get to that, for example, would be at A-level, but often A-levels are taught by several teachers at one time. If you took a child, say, in year 5 you often would not know about the progress, but you would have opinions on that. However, that does not mean to say that this is all dead in the water. We need to be watching. We need to be monitoring. We need good data. But if we were to ask whether teaching has improved over the last 10 years, that is a pretty hard one to pin down.
Q156 Chair: As I said at the beginning, I am most interested to know whether making recommendations makes a difference. If you basically think that the impact study that the Sutton Trust carried out is correct then we need to find a way of identifying those teachers in order to channel the resource for them. If it could deliver the changes that Sir Peter has just said, then this should be a pretty fundamental part of what the Government are looking at. How could we do that? We don’t have it now. External testing may happen a lot but it does not happen all the time. Is it something that we would ask heads to do? Would they be asked to categorise their teaching work force in a consistent way across the piece, which would then trigger intervention and Ofsted would look to see whether the heads were making that evaluation sufficiently consistently?
Sir Peter Lampl: What they have said in Florida is that 50% is on pupil performance-how well the pupils do what the teacher is teaching-25% is a head review and 25% is peer review from teachers. You could mix that up but something like that seems to make sense: you have a mixture of reviews. Then they have removed the pay based on seniority. Pay is now based on teacher performance so that salary and increases are based on how good a teacher you are, which is another big change.
Q157 Chair: But 50% is based on children’s progress?
Sir Peter Lampl: Yes.
Q158 Chair: I don’t have the data on that. Kevin, do you want to come in?
Kevin Mattinson: For me, a lot of it lies around the question of early professional development. It is not just identifying individual teachers who need support; it is that culture of self improvement as a school or as a community of professionals. Again, there seems to be a tension in the system-even the evidence presented yesterday-in terms of the quality of initial training: 92% of attainment is good or better and yet 40% of teaching in schools is only satisfactory. There is the question of what is happening between the training and moving on in the first few years and it links into issues of retention which we will probably touch on later. There are some real issues about the early professional development of teachers. Related to that, I have done quite a lot of work on professional standards and the use of professional standards to drive assessment and target-setting. You may be aware that new professional standards are being introduced for the profession from 2012.
From 2007, for the first time ever, we had a set of professional standards that covered every stage: the initial teacher training ones, which are called the Q standards; the core standards; post-threshold; and standards for advanced skills teachers and excellent teachers. Those have been wiped. There is a view that the standards were too cumbersome. I have a different view. The issue for me is that there was a little bit of a disconnection in the profession on the use of standards to inform self-improvement and, yes, performance management beyond the initial training and confirmation at newly qualified teacher level.
So we have a new set of standards for 2012. One of my concerns is the extent to which, if they cover all professions up to what we will possibly now be calling "master level"-not master’s degree, but master standards-those standards can be used in an informed way to judge quality, incrementally, for different stages of a career.
Q159 Chair: Thank you, but can we get data on the value added by teachers so that we can identify the 10%, the people who Chris Woodhead famously derided years ago? Is that data available?
Professor Tymms: I am reluctant to advise you to go down that line, because we have come from a highly intensive assessment system from which, to some extent, we have backed away as a nation. You could go, for example, to look at the Tennessee value-added system, which was set up to get data on each child every year in order to look at the progress the child was making. The system even takes into account the fact that the child might have had a poor teacher in the previous year and, therefore, the teacher would look good the next year. They factored that in over about three years and set up a system to hold people to account. We are a long way from that, and the negative consequence of such a system is enormous, so I would be wary of it.
I would point to the Durham system. With PIPS, performance indicators in primary schools, for example, schools buy in to getting the data, and the progress of their children can be assessed every year. That is looked at professionally within the schools by the head and the teachers, which gives you a handle on that kind of thing. InCAS, which we were running in Northern Ireland for many years, allow you to look at that, although they were specifically excluded from central accountability because of the negative consequences and the impact of teachers not looking at the data. So I think we need to be very careful about the way in which we move forward.
You could set up a system whereby you tested every child every year to determine their progress, but it would-
Q160 Chair: While I am not seeking further to increase our reliance on external assessment, I am trying to take in Peter’s insight on how we can better identify those people who are underperforming so that we can support them.
Professor Gorard: I do not think we have, as Peter said earlier, the data on the differential effectiveness of teachers that we need in this country at the moment. I do not think the Sanders approach in Tennessee actually works if you look at it at the micro level-again, I can provide evidence on that if you want it. It is a red herring to go down that line. It could only be done on softer outcome measures.
Students’ perception can be valuable, not only on academic differential effectiveness, but on things as simple as basic skills. We recently did a study for the QCA, and a number of students were saying, "We can’t hear the teacher." I mean really, really basic stuff: standing in front of the board as they are writing, mumbling, attendance and punctuality. There is some really basic stuff that you can pick up. Obviously some of it might be unreliable-some of it might be motivated by spite, or whatever-but it is too consistent across groups just to be made up. They were interested in a range of things beyond the academic. They were interested in enjoyment, interaction and the justice they saw being meted out in the classroom. Those things will have long-lasting effects not only for education, but for society, civic participation, and so on.
Q161 Pat Glass: Peter, do local authorities not have that data? Huge numbers of schools are using the Durham system. Most of the local authorities that I have worked with over the years have some kind of system in place-PIVATS, or whatever-so that they are assessing, even if it is not externally assessing, every single child every year. Is this data not available?
Professor Tymms: No, it is not. In fact, I think that the amount of data collected by local authorities has decreased over the years, so their capacity to spend money has decreased. For example, in a number of our projects, the authorities have just devolved the money to the schools, so they are unable to do it. Whereas if you went north of the border, you would find that, in the local authorities there, that is actually a different kettle of fish. They probably do have the data in order to track their students over time and pick up information there. That would be through systems bought-in by the local authorities. Fife, for example, is a large authority that has very good data tracking kids through every year. It becomes a more informal system, as Stephen suggested earlier on, but that does not mean to say that you cannot manage and pick up other data. You just must be very wary about the quality of it.
Q162 Damian Hinds: Obviously, one of the features of education worldwide over the last few years is the explosion in data and its analysability. Whatever is possible today, a great deal more will be possible and cheaper to do in two years’ time and then in further two years’ time and so on. The capability will certainly exist. All the points are well taken about being wary about the data.
I want to come back to the recruitment end. It strikes me that there are two things that actually everybody seems to agree on. First, there is an enormous difference in the efficacy of a good teacher versus an average one versus a poor one. Secondly, it is next to impossible to identify in advance who will fall into which category. You cannot do it by degree class. You cannot do it by background. You cannot do it by various personality traits that you can identify. Even by short-term observation, you could so easily get it wrong. What you could do, presumably-I think this is in the Sutton Trust submission to the Committee-is judge pretty accurately over a two-year period how people were going to do.
When you leave university, if you go into investment banking or consulting, the assumption is not that you are going to be there for 40 years. The assumption is that you will be there for two years and you see if you make it, and if not, you go off and do something else. Does this situation that we find ourselves in not argue very strongly for a default position where we would have far more people coming into teaching for a much shorter period without the assumption that that is going to be their job for life? Let us do it for a couple of years. Let us see how it goes.
Sir Peter Lampl: This is just a proposal. A lot of this stuff is being worked through, including the whole assessment. I think it is desirable to assess teachers on how well their pupils do.
Chair: How very old-fashioned.
Sir Peter Lampl: Very old-fashioned. But we are looking at a scheme whereby we get good graduates into teaching and they have a six-week programme through the summer where we get them to teach disadvantaged kids. As you know, we have summer programmes going anyway, and we are looking do stuff with an American provider. At the end of that period, at least you have actually assessed them in action. You pick the kids that you think are going to make good teachers, and you put them on a fast track and give them good training. So you have a period where, as you say, you actually have some time to see them in action. Right now, Teach First interviews people and they have tests and then they go and do Teach First, but they have not really been tested, whereas I think this would be another route into teaching. So we are looking at that as maybe a sensible way to go, and also putting them in inner-city schools and those kinds of teaching environments.
Professor Tymms: May I just add two or three things? I think that the self-selection of the people who want to be teachers is important, and they counsel themselves off as well as being counselled off when they discover that they cannot hack it or that it is not for them.
There was a really interesting project at Imperial College run by Sinclair Goodlad some years ago, in which, as part of the degree, the students doing physics or whatever had to go into schools to teach, and it counted towards the degree. That had the advantage that some who thought they were going to be teachers realised that it was not for them and some who had never thought about it discovered that it was for them. A number of universities do that now, but a little taster at an early stage for self-selection is something that might be very interesting to expand and to look at more broadly.
If we cannot pick them out, we need some mechanism for getting people out. The idea of getting more in and then them dropping out is a very interesting one. It is kind of expensive, and we know that of course teachers are selecting themselves out at the first stage, so that you have a kind of U-shaped distribution of fallout from teaching. That is at the very early stage and right at the end stage. That early stage-that dropout-is partly because there is insufficient mentoring and support. They do not feel in control of the class, and they feel unsupported by management. That is part of it, but it is also partly self-selection that it was not actually for them, so it is not a wholly bad thing that you have a certain dropout.
Kevin Mattinson: It goes both ways.
Professor Tymms: We would expect some dropout and counselling out during PGCE courses and the rest, and that’s wholly to be expected and to be right.
In the selection of teachers, there are another couple of things that I’d like to mention en passant. In the United States, the introduction of specific tests for teachers at the beginning had a negative impact on the recruitment of ethnic minority groups. That’s certainly something that we wouldn’t want to countenance. Another thought is that if you introduce bursaries, while we want to all say that it’s a good deal, we are liable to have a differential impact by socio-economic status. We want bright people from poorer backgrounds to come into teaching. It’s interesting to note that in Shanghai, they’ve waived all teaching fees for teachers in order to attract people at the top level.
Professor Gorard: If we adopted an approach like that, which I think I’d be marginally in favour of, you’d have to then move away from viewing things like turnover and wastage as being inherently problematic, which successive Administrations haven’t done. They were looking at it and saying, "We’ve got to keep these people" or "We must do it like that." I accept Peter’s point entirely.
Already, more people are interested in being teachers than apply, and more people apply than get in. The dropout from then on is relatively low. Very few people fail their initial teacher training. There’s a lot of self-selection and other kinds of selection that get to that point. So there is quite a lot of wasted energy in the system, but it’s not as overt at the moment as it would be if people went in and dipped their toes in the water.
But you would have several consequences. One would be that you would get more public engagement, because you would have more people who have at least experienced what it is like in a classroom, and they would perhaps have more admiration for the people who could hack it there. You might get people who have more experience, but also have more energy and are more refreshed. You could use it as a kind of probation system. There would be many advantages to it, but you’d have to minimise the entry costs. Otherwise it would be a terribly inefficient system.
Q163 Charlotte Leslie: I have just a quick one. I wonder if there is any evidence on how the teaching environment that people will be going into affects teacher recruitment. Is there any evidence at all to say how a move towards more school autonomy and within that, one would assume, more teacher autonomy, with a greater move towards academies, may affect teacher recruitment, as opposed to going into a largely homogenous system? I’m thinking that the state has far more influence on the minutiae of teaching than it does on, for example, medicine. Does that affect the kind of people you’re going to recruit into the profession?
Professor Howson: I think the evidence is that if you took the PGCE route, between the 2008 and 2010 entry rounds, the number of applications went up by 30%. I suspect that the economy is the greatest driver. Since 2010, they’ve been on a downward curve, despite the current economic situation. Early evidence for 2012 suggests that that may still be going on at present.
Q164 Charlotte Leslie: Will the Government’s move towards school autonomy attract people who want to be independent thinkers? Is that going to attract a different kind of teacher? That was really my question. Will the structure of school autonomy change the kind of people who want to be teachers?
Sir Peter Lampl: The thing it does, of course, is that it frees up the compensation side. I was in Lewisham on Friday to look at schools. I looked at a primary and a secondary school in our group, sitting with the Lewisham local authority. There is a primary school head earning £190,000 a year in Lewisham, but it’s an academy. So you are obviously getting a lot more.
Chair: Paying a lot more.
Sir Peter Lampl: Paying a lot more, yes. He’s a very good head, but he has obviously been attracted by that kind of salary. I think that we get too hung up on structures. We should focus on what is the most important, which is improving the performance of teachers and getting better people into teaching. At the end of the day, I don’t think the structures make a hell of a lot of difference.
Professor Tymms: It is very interesting to hear that from you. It’s absolutely right. You can rearrange the deck chairs, but the Titanic is still sinking. You’ve got to get every other thing right in this.
I would pick up a couple of points to try to point some evidence your way, but I think in many of these things, we are actually missing evidence. There are a couple of things. The perception of initial teachers over their capacity and autonomy to deal with discipline affects retention rates. I think that that’s one thing-they are hung up on discipline, and quite rightly so, because it really matters to them if they are not getting the support from the outside. The collegiality within a school is also important to retention rates. You might argue that we need heavy accountability in that early stage, as we were saying, because you want to get rid of people who aren’t managing. But actually the over-emphasis on accountability can have a negative impact. That is coming from American research. And then the mentoring that you have in those early stages-the support that you have got for the teacher in the early stages-helps to retain staff and to sustain them going on.
There is a particular issue if you look at primary schools. If we get specialist teachers in primary schools in particular subjects, you are probably missing out the appropriate mentoring that comes within the primary school. That is why we are increasing mentors and maybe there is a role for higher education working with them. We looked at the works of Lynn Newton and Doug Newton in that context.
Q165 Craig Whittaker: We had Emma Knights on the last panel explaining to us what stopped her from becoming a maths teacher. I just wonder whether there is any evidence as to the reasons why people choose not to become teachers.
Professor Howson: You probably need to ask careers services people that question rather than us, because most of us are dealing with people who have chosen to become teachers. I think that there is probably some evidence as to why people drop out of teacher training courses. Basically, it is about the fact that the job is not what they thought it would be, or in some cases there is a mismatch, particularly between where you train and where you get your first job. I once coined the phrase that we do a significant amount of our training in cathedral cities but a very large number of trainees get their first job in inner cities. We must make sure that the specifics of your training relate to where you are likely to get your first job. I suspect that that factor, in terms of issues like discipline and dealing with the range of pupils that you are likely to deal with, is an absolutely critical factor.
However, we have an open labour market, where anybody can apply for any teaching job. We don’t have a managed system apart from things like Teach First and the graduate programme training, where you are placed in a particular school. Hopefully at the end of the time, you will be able to stay in that school but it is not guaranteed.
Q166 Craig Whittaker: Can I just clarify that? So, in a system that has some severe shortages in various areas in teaching-physics, maths and all those subjects that we know about-there has been no research done on the reasons why people choose not to go into teaching?
Professor Gorard: Yes. I will put my oar in here, then. It is funny how often studies of participation are always done with participants, to ask why people did this, or why did they go to university, or what were the barriers, rather than asking people who did not do things. So we actually made an effort, with my colleague Dr See, to do several studies, where we spoke to people who decided not to become teachers.
Notionally, we could caricature them as three types: there are the people who thought about being a teacher, decided to go for it and were successful; there are those who considered it and either decided not to do it or did not make the grade, in the way that Emma Knights was deemed not to have done; and those who said, "No, it’s not for me." They actually had quite different characteristics and as with most occupational and subsequent trajectories you can predict quite early on who is likely to be in one of those groups, unfortunately on the basis of social background, parental education and things like that, and obviously their early qualifications at school.
Once you have accounted for that, then you have a number of factors that differ, but as Peter said earlier, this is not about an automatic readout; this is just a tendency. However, you have a tendency then for the people who have never considered teaching, or who think that it would be an appalling thing for them to do, that when they make their subject choices they are far more likely to express interest in extrinsic motivation. So they are much more interested in salary, conditions, status and so on. And perhaps most fascinating of all, they are five times as likely as the people who become teachers to express stories about how badly things went at school for them in their interaction with their teachers. So again, we are back to the idea of teachers as ambassadors.
The people who are, in fact, the marginals-the ones who either didn’t quite make it, or thought about it but chose something else, maybe on the basis of serendipity-are more like the people who become teachers. They are more interested in the job for its own sake, they express an interest in sharing their knowledge and so on. They are more likely to be the usual suspects who would be attracted by the TV advertising of "Using your head", and things like that. They might be attracted by short-term bursaries, but I think that you would need to have a radical change to the profession to attract the people who go on to be lawyers and doctors, and who would never consider teaching as a career. That is a broad summary.
Q167 Craig Whittaker: On that point then, what value do you place on things such as bursaries to attract teachers, particularly good ones, into the profession?
Professor Tymms: It’s supply and demand. We are in a recession, so we are going to get more people wanting to be teachers if the jobs aren’t out there.
Q168 Craig Whittaker: But is it more of the right people?
Professor Tymms: Yes, I think they are more of the right people. Let me take a specific example. If you take people who are going to do physics-the number of places doing physics in England has dropped, sadly, over the years-and if you take top physicists, they become very attractive to the City because they are good mathematicians and can deal with numbers very rapidly. If you went back 50 years, those jobs would simply not have existed for them, and if they were coming out with degrees in physics they might have said: "What do I do? Okay, I’ll be a teacher." But now those opportunities have increased dramatically, and if you went to a country such as Cuba, where those opportunities aren’t, you would get a higher quality teaching force in those particular areas-for example, more mathematicians going into classrooms. The problem is the competition, because there are other jobs available out there, and bursaries, yes, they can help.
We are in a suck-it-and-see situation; we have £9,000 kicking in for many, and we are going to have people who have £9,000, £9,000 and £9,000 and are then going to come in there, so the dynamic is going to change and we are all waiting and watching. We don’t quite know, but it is definitely a good move.
Sir Peter Lampl: Bursaries might help, but you have to change the basic pay levels. It has to be more fundamental than bursaries. We don’t have any specific research on why people are put off teaching, but clearly it is what we have been talking about. Status is not very high, pay is okay-it’s not great-and, of course, we now have the whole business with pensions and retirement. Teachers are having to pay more for their pensions, and they are going to get less and retire later. So, that’s not going to make it any easier; it is less attractive.
And it is a very tough job. I have been a part-time maths teacher for a year, and getting up in front of a class and teaching a lesson for an hour is tough. You have to be on the ball, so I think that those are the reasons why people don’t become teachers.
Kevin Mattinson: In terms of bursaries, we were concerned last year because there were certain subjects where bursaries were removed. The evidence, and it is more than anecdotal, is that that did not have much of an impact because the sorts of subjects where bursaries were removed were social science, psychology, history and geography, and so targets were still hit. What was interesting was the higher levels of haemorrhaging in the build-up to the start of the course, with institutions using reserve lists in a way that certainly I, and colleagues, haven’t done in the past.
We know that the driver through bursaries is about attraction, but it doesn’t matter whether you are a physicist or a social science teacher, your costs are the same. One of the things about the bursaries that we don’t know is whether it will lead to some distortion-some sort of impact-in the teacher-supply market when people are in to £9,000 from this September for tuition fees and no bursary.
Professor Howson: I first debated this point with the previous Select Committee in 1996, and I think that at that stage the state was still paying for the fees of university students. The new regime we are in, where you will be collecting some debt for later to pay your fees, and will be having to pay for your own maintenance unless you get a bursary, might be significantly attractive in a time of economic recession, but I have said that there are warning signs with the numbers already. I note that Stephen Hillier, when he came in front of you last week, in one of his answers was cautious about the bursary scheme.
I think we have to be much more radical and ask why it is that we can attract some high-quality teachers through the graduate teacher programme and through Teach First and pay them a salary while they are in training, but expect the vast bulk of the 35,000, to a certain greater or lesser degree, effectively to pay their own way. It is rather like going back to the old days in accountancy and the legal profession when you were articled and had to pay a premium for your articles. We don’t ask people who are going into the police or the armed forces. Most of British industry does not ask people. A big retailer such as Marks & Spencer does not say to half the people joining its graduate scheme, "Go off and do an MBA and pay for it and then we’ll give you a job at the end." We are out of line with the way in which we recruit graduates, yet we want 35,000.
Q169 Craig Whittaker: Do you think, then, that a better marketing programme would help? If you do think that would help, what would it look like?
Professor Howson: I think our biggest problem will be that if the British economy is going to be led out of recession by the private sector, the private sector is going to want graduates to do that, and we make teaching look unattractive with a pay freeze for two years and by requiring the vast bulk of those 35,000 to pay a significant amount of the cost during their training. People will look at that and compare it with the fact that even if they are on JSA, they are getting £55 a week. There is a risk:reward ratio if you have to pay your £9,000 fees back, you have to pay higher pension contributions and you have no guarantee of a job at the end of your training course.
Bear in mind that one reason why we have got into the situation that we are in at present is that at the start of the recession about 30,000 ex-teachers registered with the General Teaching Council between March 2008 and March 2009. Presumably, many of those were protecting their qualified teacher status, so that if they were made redundant in the private sector, they could start becoming supply teachers immediately and start looking for another job. That made the Department’s planning for teacher numbers extremely difficult. No doubt, the students and teachers who you have talked to will have talked about the difficulty in some parts of the country of getting a job.
Q170 Craig Whittaker: John, going back to my question about marketing, do we market to get more people into the profession? If so, how do we do it?
Professor Howson: Teacher training has got very much better at marketing over the past 10 years. If we want to fill the 35,000 places this year, I suspect that we have to aggressively market it in some areas, but I wonder what we are doing for those people out there who have trained, been invited to bear the cost of that training and then told that there is no job for them.
Professor Gorard: I think that you or whoever is doing the marketing will have to decide whom you are trying to attract. Take my notional three categories; it is relatively easy to attract more of the usual suspects. If that is what you are trying to do, I think that appeals to the intrinsic enjoyment and satisfaction of the job are well founded, according to the reports that we have had from our studies, so the kind of "Use your head" ones would be good.
If you want to attract the people who are really going on a different course, perhaps who have been tempted in by Teach First and so on, you need to do something more radical. Of course, I do not have any direct evidence for this, but I do not feel from what people have told us that marketing will affect those who are simply confirmed non-teachers. You have to do something much more radical, and it might involve things such as looking at the salary structure. It is not the actual levels of pay, as people always say, it is the progression. For the ambitious ones who are thinking that teaching is not for them, it is often the progression in the field they are going into that they want or that seems attractive to them.
Kevin Mattinson: In terms of the teacher supply in certain areas, yes, there is a competitive nature in terms of employment, but I think that one of the great successes over the past five to six years has been the diversification in terms of upskilling subject knowledge. We have a very successful programme for mathematics, physics, chemistry, modern languages, which the TDA has driven, for subject knowledge enhancement, one-year pre-teacher training, and that is making a significant difference in terms of teacher supply in important STEM subjects. It is actually increasing the supply in different ways.
Sir Peter Lampl: I think progression is really important. I agree with Stephen that you will get better people coming to teaching if you go to a more performance-based pay system, which is what we are proposing, so people can come and actually make some serious money when they are 30, if they are very good. I think that that is really important.
On the other side, coming back to the tuition fees, I think that they are a real issue for teachers. They have to do a PGCE. They are not at a low enough level that they are not going to be paying these loans back. They are right in the middle of paying them back over a long period of time. They are not in the banker category. They will not pay them back in three or four years. If I were coming out and saying, "I want to be a teacher", I would say, "Well, hang on a minute. I’ve got to pay these loans back over 20 or 30 years. Maybe I’ll go get a job that will pay me a little more money and pay the loan back in five, 10 years". Those thought processes will be going on and I think that teaching is just at a level where they get hit by the student loan repayments.
Q171 Chair: Do we need to design a career structure for-people were talking about this in the earlier session-excellent teachers in the classroom that does not involve them getting involved in management?
Professor Tymms: That is certainly a good idea.
Q172 Chair: What would that look like?
Professor Tymms: It is difficult to pin it down, but the evidence is that-if I just put a figure on the proportion of variance associated with pupil progress-if we look at a secondary school, we will see that about 10% to 15% might be associated with the pupil progress we would see over time, but if we look at it associated with a teacher, we will see that it might be 30% to 50% who progress. If we put the figure on the head, it is less than 1%. When you have that in context and look at the pay scales, and if you have the structure, you will see that, of course you need good management and of course you need good heads, but actually we need to keep good teachers in the classroom.
Professor Howson: It is the sales manager/salesman problem. We have tried with the excellent teacher scheme and the advance skills teacher scheme. One of the problems is that, as you drive autonomy down to individual operating institutions, you have to persuade them to use their budget in that particular way. That will then bring in the issues of relationships within that community.
Q173 Chair: So have they done a better job elsewhere? Is there any model from abroad that we could look at that would provide this master teacher who remains a teacher? No?
Q174 Pat Glass: We had an interesting conversation yesterday with some young ladies who came in from a north London school. Their view generally was that their teachers are adequately paid, but when we spoke to the teachers an interesting young teacher told us that when she became a teacher her starting salary was £20,000 and it did not pay her rent in London. I think there are some dilemmas there.
I want to move on and ask some questions about the content and the cost of teacher training programmes. We hear an awful lot about the Government’s policy of moving towards school-based teacher training. Is the divide between theoretical and practical training just a red herring?
Professor Tymms: The aim of the training is to produce a high-functioning professional in the classroom. That is going to be practical and research-based, but the idea is that you finish up with someone who, yes, has heard about the research that impacted, but it becomes part of them, so that the theory is part of their professional practice-it is their automatic response to do things.
There is a kind of artificial divide operating between theory and practice. If we take ways of working that are known to be effective-the use of phonics in early reading, for example-that shouldn’t be something that’s seen to be a theoretical lesson and you then get on with it and do it as practice and see that as something separate. It becomes embedded into the way in which the teacher is operating. Research in the United States looked at the teaching of phonics and found that those who had trained, their kids do less well in reading. That is where it happened that it was seen as something artificial. It has to be integrated.
We need to get the ideas in the backpack of the teacher so that they are able to deal with very diverse populations, pick up with particular instances, and it is automatic to them to take that on board. They need to be able to diagnose what is happening in the classroom. They might rarely have seen an autistic child, a profoundly deaf child, or another child with a particular attention problem. They are teaching only 30 every year, perhaps, if they are in a primary school. They are picking up and then occasionally they get this kid in who they have never seen before, but they should have in their backpack the ability to deal with that.
We think about them as a research-based profession, where you have automatic ways of operating, but you build up the backpack, so you have a real integration between the theory and practice. That means the continued professional development as well, so that you don’t just pick it up there, because you won’t pick it all up in initial teacher education. You have to then get it as it comes on line over time. I think there is an artificial distinction and we need to get them integrated. That is to do with the strong partnerships that you have between the universities and the schools, and that is the way to go.
Professor Gorard: May I answer that as well? I agree with what Peter says, but to take it a little further, often in delivery in HEIs, theoretical seems to mean knowing big names and 19th century ideas, whereas what Peter was alluding to was, effectively-thinking about an equivalent from somewhere like medicine-what works. There are two ways of handling it: one is to give the research evidence to the practitioners, and that would vary enormously in the ability to do that between different-[Interruption.]
Chair: We will wait until the end of the bell, so we can hear every word.
Professor Gorard: The ability to provide that kind of evidence is likely to vary across different providers of ITE. The better answer is to engineer the research evidence into the products that teachers use. They are very unlikely to use research evidence of what works, unless you give it to them in a palatable form, so the curriculum materials, the lesson plans, the courses, the assessments, and so on are the bits that should be evidence-based. That is not to do with theory, as it is normally understood within ITE providers, so the division between theoretical and practical is actually about where the teacher uses research-based, what-works approaches and professional judgment, which obviously has a role.
Q175 Pat Glass: The Ofsted annual report, which is very new-hot off the press-tells us, not for the first time, that, "There is more outstanding provision in primary and secondary partnerships led by higher education institutions than in school-centred partnerships or employment-based routes." The Committee has heard previously about the costs of training, and they vary enormously, but what seems to be at the cheaper end is the PGCE at about £14,000, compared with Teach First, which is £38,000 per student. Given that we are told that the most outstanding provision is in higher education, and in general, it is the cheapest provision, will we lose something if we move towards more school-based provision? What are we going to lose?
Kevin Mattinson: There is a danger if the journey goes too far, which is why we are reassured by the statements from the DfE that the prime driver is going to be quality, because that has to underpin any change in balance. There is a danger that one could lose out in terms of critical mass. Some of the work I have been doing looks at the relationship between allocations and quality as measured by Ofsted, and the reductions in allocations over the last couple of years has fallen disproportionately on HEIs. That means we have lots of provision with SCITTs and EBITTs, where one has one or two students in a subject. If we believe the primacy of subject-related pedagogy is what we are about in terms of making a better teacher, there are some risks in continuing that journey.
There are positives, though, in terms of the suggested journey, because we have real opportunities to strengthen the nature of the partnership, so if we are talking about universities, we have the same, if not a bigger part to play. One of the perennial challenges for us, and one of the perennial claims by us, is that too many schools choose not to engage in teacher education, or there is volatility-they have a newly qualified teacher, so they pull out. The development of new teaching school alliances as proposed means that, if anything, we have the opportunity to see a strengthening of the partnership to which I think we all aspire. I am less concerned than I was about the journey.
Professor Tymms: If I could pick up that point and extend what Kevin said with an example from the north-east of England; in the system as a whole, we are given quota for the numbers of students we should be training for particular subject areas, and we cannot exceed or get below that quota. We are the only providers of music PGCE for secondary in the north-east of England, and our quota this year was eight students. That is financially not sustainable, and it links in partly to the teacher supply and the calculation, but also to the E-bacc and the move to the fundamental subject. In a sense, we have a system that is moving in a certain direction, with a diversification of teacher training routes that decreases the quota against other things that are happening in the system, and it means that key areas-I have mentioned music, for which there is a particular concern, but I also put in RE, PE and others for secondary school. If that continues and the quota decreases, as a university, we must drop those non-viable routes and once we have lost them, we do not then regain them. If we are hearing that, actually, it is the cheapest and the best, we may have a problem.
Kevin Mattinson: May I just add some concrete figures, if it would help colleagues, to pick up on HEI provision in 2011? In music, which Peter has referred to, some 58% of HEI-based providers of music training have group cohorts of fewer than 10. It is 65% in art and design.
Q176 Pat Glass: Are you telling us that in future there will be some routes in certain subjects that will only be able to come through the school-based system?
Kevin Mattinson: That is the danger if there is not a continuing of transfer.
Professor Tymms: Some subjects are even likely to disappear from the secondary curriculum. That is a considerable concern. It is outside the initial teacher training and is part of a broader system-a feature-that we should worry about.
Professor Howson: There has got to be some rationalisation. While I have sympathy with my higher education colleagues here, if you go back 10 or 15 years, the number of institutions in the higher education sector training secondary teachers, in many of those subjects, was far lower. There ought to be a much more fundamental look at how we operate. This has been operated with a high degree of secrecy by the Department in working out whether or not the numbers that come out of it are right. It is not an iterative process with the sector. It is handed down on tablets of stone. We need to decide, particularly if something like 50% of those people who come into training are over the age of 25 when they join PGCE courses and are likely to be more location-specific than a 22-year-old, how we get the right balance between the number of training places and the number of jobs that are likely to emerge; otherwise we get this great fall-off of people who train and cannot get jobs.
Q177 Pat Glass: It is interesting that when we had the TDA here and asked those questions, I did not feel confident that it had that overarching view of the needs of the industry and who was coming through the system.
Professor Howson: Between 1996 and 1997, I was the Teacher Training Agency’s chief professional adviser on teacher supply. That is the only time in its history that that post has ever existed. I resigned in September 1997 and it did not replace me.
Professor Gorard: I wonder whether if it is worth considering-this would not necessarily be popular with many people-a more centralised or regional admissions system for applications to initial teaching training and perhaps for delivery, to overcome some of the problems that have been suggested there. It could help to calibrate or moderate between intake qualifications, and it might provide greater equity and, possibly, greater efficiency and quality in the supply of teacher trainees.
I have been asked several times to look at the quality of the training that different routes and different institutions have come up with. It is almost impossible to do and impossible to judge. There is no firm ground on which to base it, yet it looks as though, as with almost any other attempts to make progress or make value-added judgments, the vast majority of the differences you see in the quality that Ofsted is reporting would be of the candidates-of the people themselves-and not so much the routes. It is not that the routes are not adding any more-I am not saying whether they are or are not-it is that they are attracting different things. I would be slightly suspicious of some of Ofsted’s observations, because if they were comparing SCITTs with the University of Cambridge, you are dealing with very different people. Teach First may have changed all that, but why does it have to be either/or? Why does it have HEIs or school-based?
Q178 Pat Glass: I guess it does not. We need a mixed package. I am really worried about what you are telling us about certain subjects that may well disappear from the secondary curriculum unless either the TDA or the Department get their act together. What would be your recommendation around that?
Professor Tymms: We need some mechanism to encourage the diversification within the secondary curriculum. What we have is a focus, quite rightly, on fundamentals, but that focus has shifted us away from the diversification of the curriculum. If you are a secondary school pupil and you are moving up there, you are getting less of the diversity that is important. No one is against that-everybody is after sport, PE, music and drama and so on-but it happens almost despite itself. We saw it previously in primary schools when the pressure for the league tables come in, and so we start cutting back on those diversity thinking.
Professor Howson: Can I just stand that question on its head? In the last 10 years, we have introduced two subjects into secondary schools with a virtually untrained work force. One was IT. According to the Schools Workforce Census, about two thirds of the people teaching it do not have a post-A-level qualification. Because once you say to a school, "You must teach this subject and it is on the curriculum from September," they have got to start it. You cannot wait for the PGCE courses or whatever to produce a number of people to come along who are properly trained over a number of years. The other subject is citizenship.
Professor Gorard: Can I argue slightly with what Peter said? I think you could distinguish between the issues of diversity in the curriculum and the demands for teachers that will ensue, and then the allocation of places in teacher training institutions, because the eight music places is not long-term economically viable, but if you aggregate it with other places in other institutions, you could come up with a reasonable number to deal with what an institution could handle. That again would be part of an argument of why we might want to look at a more regional or national way of allocating places. At the moment, it is on an institutional basis. Since the recession and some of the changes that TDA have made, we have got very small numbers in individual places. Could we not aggregate those?
Kevin Mattinson: May I-
Chair: I need to move on. We have only got a few minutes left. Tessa.
Q179 Tessa Munt: My first question is directed to you, Peter. Cambridge University’s submission to this inquiry said that "a key factor in inner city schools is the lack of teacher continuity and low retention rates", and argues that "careful attention to addressing teacher wastages would go some way to solving the inner city hard-to-staff school problems." Do you agree that teacher continuity is a key factor when you are looking to improve?
Sir Peter Lampl: Absolutely. This is probably the main focus of the money we are spending on this education endowment foundation. We got £125 million to just address issues of kids on free school meals at inner-city schools. The most important factor in those schools is how you get good teachers into those schools in the first place and get them to stay there. Some of the thoughts we have had, of course, is that they should get paid more for doing that job-it is a much tougher job. I think there is an issue with the admissions code that has just come in, whereby teachers have preference for their children in the school they are teaching. If I am a teacher with children, do I want to teach in an inner-city school and get preference for my kids to go there? The answer is probably no. They need to be recognised as having special expertise, as a doctor would in a certain category.
Obviously, good leadership in those schools is important to attracting good teachers. I was in a couple of schools on Friday where they had very good leaders in the schools and had managed to turn around the schools, or the schools were being turned around because of a good leader. Federations are really important here-both the schools I saw were part of federations. The federation heads were outstanding head teachers. The key is obviously to change the teacher work force. The other thing is that there has to be a critical mass of good teachers in these schools. These are all hypotheses at this point. In two or three years, we might have some hard data on what really works. Attracting good teachers into these schools and keeping them there is absolutely the key to providing a good education for those kids.
I want to say something about the other end, although I know it may be very unpopular. I have been wandering around different schools. I go to independent schools-we do a lot of partnerships with independent schools-and look at the list of teachers and they all have degrees from Russell group universities and PhDs, whereas if you go to state schools, you generally do not get a list at all. I asked Alan Smithers, who is sitting over there, to do a research study of what teachers with what qualifications are teaching where, and it is a bit of a horror story. Basically, 54% of Oxbridge graduates in teaching are teaching in independent schools; it’s the same story with PhDs. If you look at shortage subjects-we have heard about maths, physics, modern languages, teachers with good degrees in these subjects are teaching in independent schools, there is a huge issue about the independent sector, which has 7% of pupils in this country, but 13% of teachers. We are talking about teacher qualifications. They believe, I think, that teacher qualifications matter, because they hire teachers with good qualifications.
I also think, having been involved with them a lot, they are also very good not just at finding teachers with the best qualifications, but they know who the good teachers are in their area and attract them into independent schools. We have a huge issue with the best teachers in this country ending up in independent schools and not going into the kind of schools we are trying to help, which are inner-city schools. I just want to raise that as an issue.
Tessa Munt: Thank you. Have I got time for one more?
Chair: You have.
Q180 Tessa Munt: Thank you. To all of you generally-you have about a millisecond each-I just wanted to know about teachers leaving the profession and what you know about where they go.
Professor Howson: I think chapter 3 of the Department’s recent document on the profile of teachers in England from the 2010 School Workforce Census provides quite a lot of good information about that. Some of it we have discussed already. There are clearly some people who leave in the early years, who are clearly a group of mostly women, who leave for family reasons. Then there are the bulk of people who go on until retirement. One of the most worrying things in that secondary school analysis is what I call the early management burn-out figure, where people get promoted into posts of responsibility very early in their career, when they are not necessarily secure in their own teaching, and who leave in disproportionate numbers. That comes out in that report and I think it is an area of grave concern, because many of those may be in some of these challenging inner-city schools that we have been talking about.
Professor Gorard: There is another category, which of course is people moving to other sectors of education, which is treated as wastage in the figures but in fact is not wastage. They could be doing a very valuable job within the education sector as a whole, so we should not be too concerned about those.
There is no evidence that it is the best teachers that leave the most disadvantaged schools, nor that there are worse teachers there in the first place? I do not accept there is evidence that that is true. In the short run perhaps the pupil premium is a smart way of handling it-to try to channel money not to areas but through the individuals.
Professor Tymms: Just one little point: it is great to see EEF working with those inner-city schools. I just point to one thing that will be appearing on the research in the future: in Chicago, a guy called Steve Raudenbush, one of the best education researchers in the world, is working with inner-city schools there. The tactic there is to up the skills of the work force that are there, with continued professional development. We need to bear those things in mind: get the right people in there, but also get the continuous professional development, and watch what is happening in Chicago.
Q181 Chair: Another use for the pupil premium, perhaps.
Professor Tymms: Yes.
Chair: Thank you all very much for giving evidence to us today. Please do stay in contact with the Committee if you have any further thoughts-particularly any recommendations or potential recommendations you think we should be making to Government. We would be delighted to hear from you. Thank you all very much indeed.