Schools are labour intensive institutions; as the DfE reported in 2013, the average primary school spends 79% of its budget on staff, including 53% on teachers; the corresponding figures for secondary schools are 78% and 58%.

Recent discourse has emphasised the quality of teaching as the most important system input for pupil achievement. There is a trend towards applicants for all routes into teacher training to have better degree qualifications, and entry to primary is competitive but secondary recruitment targets have not been met in recent years. Some subjects where there is a shortage of applicants attract bursaries, but their effectiveness is contested.

In order to teach in a maintained school, teachers are normally required to have qualified teacher status (QTS) and a degree, but this does not apply to academies. A small and declining proportion of entrants qualify by means of an undergraduate (B.Ed) course, but most complete a course leading to a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). Around a half of these are based in Higher Education institutions (HEIs), with the other half taking school-based routes, mainly School Direct.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership is an executive agency of the DfE and aims to “improve the quality of the education workforce and help schools to help each other improve”. Its focus is on ITT and leadership development, including the National Leaders of Education programme and the encouragement of teaching schools, which are intended to support other schools.

Teachers in maintained schools are entitled to principal terms and conditions as set out by the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, which is produced by the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB). This was established in September 1991 under the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Act 1991 and later in the 2002 Education Act. The STRB looks into pay, professional duties and working time of school teachers in England and Wales and reports to the Secretary of State, who can refer matters to the STRB at any time and must have regard for the recommendations made by it. In practice, the recommendations are almost invariably accepted. In 2016 the STRB recommended a 1% increase to all pay points, in line with Treasury requirements, but noted increasing pressures on recruitment and retention and stated that “a significantly higher than 1% uplift to the pay framework will be needed in the lifetime of this Parliament”.

Academies are not required to abide by the STPCD. In practice, most do, with some introducing changes to hours and days of work.

There is no national provision for the terms and conditions of support staff. In maintained schools, these are determined by the employing authority. In academies, the employer determines them. Data on pay is not collected nationally. Although there has been little national focus on training for support staff there has been a research focus on the use of teaching assistants, for example by the Education Endowment Foundation.


The DfE Statistical First Release School Workforce in England is produced in June each year. It has a detailed analysis of the characteristics and numbers of the schools workforce based on data collected the previous November. The 2016 edition showed that in November 2015 a record 456,900 full-time-equivalent (FTE) teachers were employed, with a vacancy rate of 0.2%. There were also 501,000 FTE support staff, just over half of whom were classroom assistants.

The DfE Statistical First Release Initial Teacher Training Census published in November each year records entries to postgraduate teacher training in the September of that year; in 2015 there were 27,761 entrants to postgraduate training and, in 2016, 27,053 actual new entrants with a further 176 forecast to start. There were also 5,195 new entrants to undergraduate ITT, compared with 5,500 in 2015. The Teacher Supply Model (TSM) estimated that, in the academic year 2016-2017, England needed 17,687 postgraduate trainees to start in secondary subjects, but 15,713 were recruited, 89% of the target; 11,516 trainees entered primary training, 100% of the model.

Current issues

Recent policy development on staff has concentrated on the recruitment and training of new teachers and their subsequent retention. School-based training routes have been allocated an increasing proportion of training places in recent years, but there has been less success filling them. In 2015, HEIs recruited 77% of their allocations for secondary postgraduate places, while School Centred Initial Teacher Training institutes recruited 57% of allocations and School Direct recruited 45%. However, in 2016 the Government adopted a new market model of recruitment to training. It did not allocate a specific number of places to individual organisations for postgraduate ITT courses; instead, eligible schools and ITT providers were able to recruit as many trainees as they felt they needed until a national limit was reached.

School Direct was introduced in 2012. Participating schools recruit trainees who may teach up to 90% of the standard timetable. Most trainees pay fees, but high quality graduates with at least three years’ work experience may be salaried. The school must partner with an HEI teacher training provider, and the one academic year course leads to Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and often the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE). There is some expectation that the school will offer employment to successful trainees.

Teach First is another route into teaching. The charity recruits highly qualified graduates onto a two-year Leadership Development Programme and recruited 1,375 trainees in 2016 - 209 fewer than in the previous year..

The Government believes that workload is an important factor in teacher morale and retention. Some 44,000 teachers responded to a government survey and in 2015 it established three review groups on marking, planning, and data management. As a result, the Government has committed itself to giving schools at least a year’s notice of changes to accountability, curriculum or qualification, to share good practice, and to conduct regular workload surveys. Ofsted clarified its guidance on the expectations of inspectors.

The 2016 report of the School Teachers Review made a number of references to the lack of confidence in schools in using the flexibilities introduced in 2014, including the requirement to relate pay to performance. There has been no evaluation of these reforms. The STRB would welcome a remit to examine the current pay structure.


November 2016

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