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Research round-up (18 April 2018)

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Here's a round-up of education research published in the last fortnight.  

School Leadership Characteristics and Trends 

The Department for Education (DfE) examined the characteristics and trends of teachers and those in school leadership positions at the end of 2016. It broke its analysis down into three sections: the number of teachers in leadership positions, how the characteristics of those in leadership roles compare with those of classroom teachers, and the process of progression to leadership and how this is affected by gender, ethnicity and region.

Key points (all figures relate to changes from 2010 to 2016 unless otherwise stated)

  • Between 2011 and 2016, the pupil to teacher ratio increased from 17.2 to 17.6
  • The biggest change in the make-up of teachers and leaders is the increase in the number of middle leaders (a 29 per cent increase) and assistant heads (a 71 per cent increase) in primary schools
  • The number of special schools grew by 36 per cent
  • The median age of senior leaders (42) and head teachers (48) has gone down from 44 and 51 respectively
  • Teachers are progressing more quickly to leadership roles, with 50 per cent of head teachers having been qualified for 22 or fewer years, which is down from 26 years
  • There's been an increase in the number of secondary school head teachers holding a masters, from 62 per cent to 71 per cent from 2011 to 2016. 

About the data 

The report provides a more detailed analysis of data available in the School Workforce Census (SWC), which was introduced in November 2010 and replaced a number of different workforce data collections. It collects information on school staff from all state-funded schools in England, including local-authority-maintained (LA-maintained) schools, academy schools (including free schools, studio schools and university technology colleges), city technology colleges, special schools and pupil referral units (PRU). 

Youth index 2018

In its annual survey, the Prince’s Trust's youth index finds the well-being of young people (those aged 16 to 25) in the UK at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009.  The study asks young people to rate how they feel about many aspects of their lives and their future prospects.

Key findings 

  • The overall Youth Index (combining happiness and confidence relating to nine aspects of life) sits at its lowest level since the study was first commissioned in 2009
  • Happiness around emotional health was the measure that saw the biggest fall
  • Happiness around money issues remains the lowest scoring measure
  • One in four working young people feel trapped in a cycle of jobs they don’t want
  • Almost a third (29 per cent) of working young people have to take whatever jobs they can get rather than focus on developing their careers
  • 59 per cent of working young people feel they need opportunities to develop their skills before they can think about their career options
  • 54 per cent of all young people believe a lack of self-confidence holds them back
  • Almost a third (29 per cent) of all young people think getting relevant work experience is one of the biggest challenges in pursuing their careers.

About the survey

The findings are based on an online survey, in which a sample of 2,194 16 to 25-year-olds participated in November 2017.  The survey was conducted by YouGov on behalf of the Prince’s Trust.

Free school meals under universal credit

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has examined how changes to the benefits system will impact children’s eligibility for free school meals (FSMs) and the fact that the introduction of universal credit (UC) will create winners and losers from the legacy system.

Key points from the introduction of universal credit 

  • Different means-tested benefits will no longer exist under UC, and a new method of eligibility assessment for FSMs is required
  • An interim measure during early stage rollout meant all children of families in receipt of UC were eligible for FSMs
  • All state school children in England and Scotland in year two or below will continue to be entitled to FSMs with no means test
  • Children of families in receipt of UC who have annual net earnings (ie after income tax and employee national insurance) of £7,400 or less will be eligible for FSMs
  • Overall, it is estimated that an extra 50K children will be eligible under the new system
  • However, underneath this net movement, the changes will impact groups in different ways, with new children eligible and others no longer eligible
  • The different impacts will be dependent on hours worked, the rate of pay and whether a lone parent family.  
Annual parents survey 2017 

Ofsted surveyed parents' attitudes towards and knowledge of their organisation, together with the factors that influence their choice of school for their children.

Key responses 

  • Three-quarters of parents feel Ofsted provides reliable information
  • The main reasons for thinking the information that Ofsted provides isn’t reliable are the provider/institution being different during the inspection, inspections being too short and inspectors not looking at the right things
  • The quality of teaching is most commonly ranked first as the most important factor that parents think about when their children are attending a childcare provider, school or college
  • When actually making a decision on a childcare provider, school or college, the proximity of the provider/institution to the parents' home and Ofsted's judgement are the most important factors in that decision. Information to inform a parent’s choice mainly comes from talking to other parents and Ofsted's reports
  • A majority of parents (61 per cent) agree that schools shouldn’t be given any notice of inspection
  • There is also agreement from more than half of parents (56 per cent) that it is more important for schools/colleges to be inspected without notice than for parents to be able to feed their views into the inspection process
  • Having a one page summary of key findings or traffic light system, and comparisons with other schools are the top two things parents think would make Ofsted's reports more useful
  • The quality of the teaching, happiness of children and how the school deals with bullying are the most useful pieces of information for a parent to hear from other parents/children of a potential new school or college. 

About the data gathering 

An online survey was developed by Ofsted in conjunction with YouGov, and it was carried out among parents between 1 December and 10 December 2017.

The total number of respondents was 1,128 parents; 1,000 with a school-aged child, and 128 with a pre-school-aged child attending childcare. 

Also this fortnight 
  • The Education datalab blog has published a summary of academy trust gender pay gap information
  • The Gatsby foundation has produced an analysis of the effect of paying shortage subject teachers an additional supplement in the early years of their career
  • According to an analysis by the Sutton Trust, as many as 1,000 Sure Start children's centres across the country have closed since 2009 – twice as many as the government has reported
  • The IFS, funded by the Gatsby foundation, examines the career and earnings of physics graduates compared with graduates of other subjects
  • The EPI looks at whether apprenticeship training in England is an effective model for firms
  • The Institute of Labour Economics asks whether HRM can improve schools’ performance
  • Reform scrutinise the apprenticeship levy, the characteristics of apprentices and the quality of opportunities available
  • Ofqual released its corporate plan for 2018-2021, which highlights its goals for the coming years.