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Research round-up 3 April 2018

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Taking Head teacher appraisal seriously

The National Governance Association (NGA) has released a report exploring various aspects of head teacher appraisal including the format of meetings and decision-making; the appointment and role of external advisers; and the setting of the head teacher objectives. 

As part of the research, NGA gave eight recommendations to help governing boards consider ways to improve their practice based on each of the challenges identified.

Key findings:

  • There is little difference between the processes used to appraise the head teacher today compared to the process commonly used six years ago.
  • 94.7% of respondents said that their school, including a large number of academies, put together an appraisal panel of two to three individuals (although, even for maintained schools, the current regulations make no mention of an appraisal panel or its size) to conduct the head teachers’ appraisal.
  • 87% of academies still appointed an external advisor, with many maintained schools and academies also continuing the practice of using a school improvement partner (SIP) as the external advisor or using an external advisor recommended by the local authority.
  • The majority of schools continued to conduct the head teacher appraisal in the autumn term.
    •  Although some survey respondents had thought through the benefits of conducting the appraisal at a different time of year and decided that the autumn term was still best, many suggested that the decision had not been thought through and was simply a ‘historic’ trend.
  • There was some confusion as to who should ‘lead’ the head teacher appraisal process.
  • 84.1% of survey respondents chose panel members ‘to a great extent’ or ‘somewhat’ based on whether they had experience in performance appraisal as part of their professional role.
    • However, only 58.3% of respondents with less than one years’ experience appraising the head teacher had received training.
  • Nearly a quarter of survey respondents noted that their head teacher led the process of appointing an external advisor.
  • 99.3% of respondents linked their head teachers objectives to the schools’ priorities.
    • However, in an attempt to link school priorities to the head teachers appraisal, interviewees revealed a tendency to suggest unrealistic objectives or objectives outside of the head teachers’ control (such as getting ‘good’ in the next Ofsted inspection, but an inspection not taking place in the appraisal period).
  • Head teachers who had been in post for five years were 10.7% less likely to have a personal objective compared to those new to the post.

About the research:

  • NGA surveyed 1,164 chairs of governors and trustees of state-schools in England and interviewed 10 head teachers, chairs of governors and external advisors.


How do teachers compare to nurses and police officers?

NFER examine how full-time teachers compare to full-time nurses and police officers, two of the other large and important public sector professions in England. They compare the characteristics of each profession’s workforce, their hours worked, earnings, and job satisfaction.

Key findings:

  • In 2015/16, teachers work the longest hours at 50 hours per week during term time, followed by police officers (44) and nurses (39).
  • Even after taking account of school holidays, full-time teachers still work the equivalent of 45 hours per week.
    • The long hours that teachers work during term time substantially exceeds the amount of extra holiday time they may receive.
  • Teachers’ real average hourly pay has decreased by 15 per cent since 2009/10. Over the same period, real average hourly pay has fallen by four and 11 per cent for nurses and police officers, respectively.
  • 78 per cent of full-time teachers say they are satisfied with their jobs in 2015/16. This is slightly lower than full-time nurses’ job satisfaction rates but much higher than for full-time police officers.
  • Only 47 per cent of teachers say they are satisfied with their amount of leisure time in 2015/16, the lowest of the three professions, while 43 per cent say they are dissatisfied.
  • Despite reporting relatively strong job and income satisfaction rates, teachers are more likely to leave their profession than nurses or police officers.

About the data:

  • The Understanding Society survey is the largest longitudinal household survey in the UK, based on a sample of 40,000 households.
  • NFER has identified 1,197 individuals who were, at some point across the seven waves of data (2009-2017), teachers in a school in England’s state sector. They have compared and contrasted the characteristics, earnings, working hours and satisfaction of teachers with that 752 public sector nurses and 198 police officers in England for comparison.

Experiences of Education, Health and Care plans: A survey of parents and young people

The Department for Education (DfE) has released research looking at the views and experiences of people who received an education, health and care (EHC) plan in 2015.

Key findings:

  • Two-thirds of parents and young people were satisfied with the overall process of getting an EHC plan and a similar proportion agreed that it would achieve the outcomes agreed for the child or young person (62%).
    • Over one in ten were dissatisfied and just under one in ten disagreed respectively
  • Just over half found that starting the EHC plan process was very easy/easy (57%), whereas 18% found this to be very difficult/difficult.
    • It was more common to rate involvement as very easy/easy when a SEN Statement had previously been in place; where it took one request to get an EHC plan; or where the process was completed within 20 weeks
    • Ratings were also more favourable where the EHC plan was perceived to address a combination of education, health and care needs by the parent/young person (as opposed to addressing education needs only)
  • Almost three quarters agreed that their EHC plan led to the child or young person getting the help and support that they need (73%); over two-thirds (67%) agreed it has improved the child/young person’s experience of education.
    • Respondents were more likely to agree (for both measures) the longer the plan had been in place

About the research:

  • Children and young people with 2015 EHC plans were identified via two official databases: the National Pupil Database and the Individualised Learner Record. This identified 65,172 individuals with an EHC plan put in place in 2015.
  • Families of children and young people were initially contacted by letter, inviting them to take part in an online survey.
  • A total of 13,643 responses were received between 25th July and 28th November 2016.

Academy schools’ finances

 The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has released a report looking at academy school finances. On the basis of their review, the committee has made six recommendations to the Department for Education.

Key findings and recommendations:

  • The Department for Education’s rules around related party transactions are too weak to prevent abuse. 
    • The Department should tighten the rules in the next version of the Academies Financial Handbook, expected in July 2018, to prevent academies from entering into related party transactions without approval from ESFA.
  • The information that is currently available on the relative performance of academy trusts is not sufficient to enable parents and local communities to hold academy trusts fully accountable for how they spend taxpayers’ money
    • The Department should publish more analysis in the accounts for 2016–17, including a comparison of the performance of academy trusts of different sizes and geographical areas.
  • Some academy trusts appear to be using public money to pay excessive salaries. The Annual Report and Accounts showed that there were 102 instances of trustees being paid salaries which were excess of £150,000 in 2015–16.
    • The Department should extend its work to challenge all academy trusts that are paying excessive salaries and take action where these cannot be justified.
  • With the growing financial pressures on schools, the Department is not doing enough to identify academy trusts that are at risk of getting into financial difficulty.
    • The Department should, by the end of June 2018, write to the Committee with details of its progress in improving how it identifies, and intervenes with, academy trusts at risk of financial difficulty. 
  • The Department could not clearly explain how it protects schools’ funds and assets when a multi-academy trust fails.
    • The Department needs to develop a risk strategy for how to tackle multi-academy trust failure.
  • The Department does not have enough information about the extent of asbestos in schools to ensure that the risks are being properly managed.
    • The Department should publish the results of its ongoing exercise to collect data on asbestos; and make clear to Local Authorities and academy trusts that information should be made available by the end of June 2018.

NAHT courses: Moving towards joining or forming a multi-academy trust - London

Also this fortnight:

  • The Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) has published a report looking at the extent to which young children at risk of gang involvement or youth violence are supported through evidence-based early intervention, particularly within primary schools.
  • Education DataLab has released a new blog looking at how much private tutoring matters for grammar school admissions and another looking at why pupils who went to infant and first schools appear to underperform at Key Stage 4.
  • The Government Equalities Office has published its response to the 2017 Youth Select Committee Report.
  • EEF and the Nuffield Foundation have commissioned a review analysing the best available international research on teaching maths to children aged 9-14 (Key Stages 2 and 3) to find out what the evidence says about effective maths teaching.
  • Ofqual has published two pieces of research looking at the moderation of teacher assessments.
  • The Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England has released a report looking at the North-South divide and its impact on young people.