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Research round-up (24 September 2018)

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Education at a glance 2018: OECD indicators

The OECD Directorate for Education and Skills has published its annual education at a glance report. In it, it develops and analyses the quantitative and internationally comparable indicators that can be used to assist governments in building more effective and equitable education systems. The key points from the UK report are below:

  • Teachers in the United Kingdom are among the youngest across OECD countries and earn less than average at all levels of education.
  • The teaching workforce in the United Kingdom has become younger since 2005 and is now the youngest among all OECD countries in primary education and the second youngest after Turkey in lower secondary education.
        o In primary schools, 31% of teachers are aged 30 or younger, compared to the OECD average of 12%.
  • Teachers’ pay starts comparatively low when looking at the starting salary for teachers with the minimum level of qualifications (unqualified teachers). After 15 years’ experience, teachers’ salaries have increased considerably, and exceed the OECD average across all levels of education except upper secondary education in England. However, salary progression slows down after 15 years of experience, resulting in top of scale salaries that lag behind those in other OECD countries.
  • As in most OECD countries, most teaching staff in the UK are women, with the share of women decreasing as the level of education increases.
          o   At lower secondary level, there is more gender balance in the United Kingdom than in many other countries. In 2016, 36% of lower secondary teachers in the United Kingdom were men, almost 5 percentage points higher than the average across OECD countries (31%).
  • Enrolment in early childhood education and care (ECEC) in the United Kingdom is universal or near universal from the age of three, but, in common with almost all OECD countries, younger children are more likely to participate in ECEC if they come from a relatively advantaged socio-economic background or their mother has completed tertiary education.


Report of the NAHT Accountability Commission: improving school accountability

NAHT has now published its independent report on improving school accountability. Through its work, the Accountability Commission has sought to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the current accountability system through a:

  • review of published data and research on the effectiveness and impact of accountability arrangements in England and,
  • consideration of testimony from expert witnesses to the commission.

The Commission also considered alternative models of accountability through the:

  • review of international research of the impact of approaches taken in other countries,
  • consideration of transferability of approaches taken to hold professionals to account in other sectors, and
  • testing of alternative proposals against guiding principles, to identify benefits, trade-offs and potential negative consequences of change.

Following a review of the evidence and testimony, the Accountability Commission has made several recommendations to the government. These include:

  • Pupil performance data: Comparative performance data should be used by Ofsted to inform judgements of school effectiveness.
  • Inspection: Ofsted should adopt a new role, focused on identifying failure and providing stronger diagnostic insight for schools that are struggling.
  • School improvement: Existing peer review programmes should be evaluated to identify characteristics of effective practice to develop national accreditation arrangements.

Considering the report, NAHT has called for a pause on the development of Ofsted's new framework for the inspection of schools which is due to be implemented in September 2019.

The NFER report into accountability that underpins the report can be found here.


Improving secondary science: a guidance report

Research from the Education Endowment Fund suggests ways in which teachers can harness children’s common scientific misconceptions and use them to improve pupils' learning.

Who is the guidance for?


  • This guidance is for secondary science teachers, heads of science departments, and senior leaders. The recommendations are designed to be actionable by classroom teachers, but there is a benefit in teachers coming together as a department to think about how it applies in their context.
  • This guidance report is relevant to the teaching of science at Key Stages 3 and 4. It focuses on the seven areas where the evidence provides the strongest steer about how to enhance the teaching of science to pupils in this age group and have provided examples of how to apply the recommendations in practice.


What are the key recommendations?


  • Preconceptions: build on the ideas that pupils bring to lessons
  • Self-regulation: help pupils direct their own learning
  • Modelling: use models to support understanding
  • Memory: support pupils to retain and retrieve knowledge
  • Practical work: use practical work purposefully and as part of a learning sequence
  • Language science: develop scientific vocabulary and support pupils to read and write about science
  • Feedback: use structured feedback to move on pupil’s thinking



The IFS 2018 annual report on education spending

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has released their 2018 report on education spending. This review is the extended detail beneath the research the IFS released here in July. The key points are listed below:


  • While total school spending per pupil has fallen by 8% in real terms between 2009–10 and 2017–18, this has mainly been driven by a 55% cut to local authority spending on services and the large cuts to sixth-form funding. 
  • Funding per pupil provided to individual primary and secondary schools has been better protected and is about 4% below its recent historic high in 2015, though it remains over 60% higher than in 2000–01. 
  • Schools also face spending pressure from rises in staff costs and extra responsibilities. After the squeeze on public sector pay between 2010–11 and 2015–16, public sector pay per head is now expected to grow faster (11%) than general inflation between 2015–16 and 2019–20 (7%). This is the result of extra employer pension and National Insurance costs and the lifting of the 1% cap on public sector pay awards. 
  • Funding for 16 to 18-year-olds and for general further education has been cut much more sharply than funding for schools, pre-school or higher education.
  • Funding per student in school sixth forms has fallen by 21% since its peak in 2010–11 and remains lower than at any point since at least 2002–03.



School governance in 2018

The National Governance Association has released their annual survey and found that funding, staff recruitment and the government’s performance on education are the major issues facing volunteers governing state-funded schools. The key points found were:


  • Three quarters of governors and trustees have a negative view of the government’s performance in education over the past year, with those governing calling for more funding and more stability in education policy.
  • Just one in five is confident that they can manage budget constraints without compromising the quality of education. Only half of respondents said that that they are balancing income and expenditure with almost a third drawing on reserves. 75% of those drawing on reserves said these would be exhausted within two years.Staff recruitment is particularly challenging in regions surrounding London and in schools with lower Ofsted grades; many secondary schools are struggling to recruit teachers to core subjects.



Also this week

  • The DfE has published research into the impact of early education at ages two to four on child outcomes at age four, and the importance of the early years home environment.
  • Analysis by the Education Policy Institute assesses how parents choose secondary schools and whether this varies for different groups of parents in different parts of the country.
  • The Sutton Trust revisits the 2013 parent power report for 2018 and analyses the cultural and financial resources parents use to boost their children’s chances of educational success.
  • Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education analysed data from the most recent teaching and learning international survey, finding that of 22 comparable countries, England’s teachers have the lowest job satisfaction.