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Research round-up (11 June 2018)

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

National Audit Office Assessment of Ofsted value for money

This NAO report examines whether Ofsted’s approach to inspecting schools is providing value for money, assessing Ofsted’s role, performance and impact.

The NAO concluded that the current inspection model, with some schools exempt from re-inspection, others subject to light-touch inspection and the average time between inspections rising, raises questions about whether there is enough independent assurance about schools’ effectiveness to meet the needs of parents, taxpayers and the Department itself. 

Whilst noting that Ofsted had faced significant challenges in recent years, as its budget has reduced and it has struggled to retain staff and deploy enough contracted inspectors, the NAO found that:

  • There were 43 (0.2%) schools for which Ofsted did not meet the statutory target to re-inspect within five years between 2012/13 and 2016/17
  • 296 schools had not been inspected for 10 years or more because they were previously graded as outstanding and are therefore exempt from routine re-inspection, at August 2017
  • Only 29% of Ofsted's total spending went on inspecting state-funded schools in 2017-18
  • Ofsted does not have reliable information on its efficiency and has limited information on the impact
  • Until Ofsted has better information it will be unable to demonstrate that its inspection of schools represents value for money

The NAO’s recommendations for Ofsted include: monitoring and reporting publicly on the extent to which it is meeting targets for both processes and impact; identifying how it can engage more with parents and make inspection reports more useful for parents; and setting out a plan for recruiting and retaining the inspectors it needs to undertake school inspections.


Mental Health and the Early Years Workforce

The Pre-school Learning Alliance Minds Matter survey looks at the impact of working in childcare and the early years sector on practitioners' mental health.  More than 2,000 respondents (including nursery managers, nursery workers and childminders) gave their views, and the full report provides descriptions and experiences of the difficulties faced.

Despite respondents’ strong commitment to, and passion for, the practical, child-focused aspect of their jobs, it is clear that external pressures are having a significantly negative impact on the mental health and well-being of a substantial proportion of the early years workforce.

  • 25% of respondents are considering leaving the early years sector due to stress or mental health difficulties
  • 66% of respondents say their personal relationships have been negatively affected by work-related stress or mental health difficulties over the past year
  • 62% of (non-self-employed) respondents work outside of paid working hours ‘very often’, with a further 19% working outside of paid working hours ‘quite often’.
  • The top four sources of stress identified by respondents were ‘Administration and paperwork’, ‘Financial resources of the setting’, ‘Workload (other than administration and paperwork) and ‘Pay’
  • The most commonly cited symptoms/health impacts experienced due to work were fatigue (60%), loss of motivation (58%), anxiety (57%) and insomnia (53%)
  • 52% of respondents have not spoken to anyone at work about their stress or mental health issues

This survey was conducted online between 23 April and 18 May 2018 and received 2,039 responses. Respondents comprised of pre-schools (43%), nurseries (27%), childminders (15%), and a small number of primary school nursery classes (3%), children’s centres (2%), maintained nursery schools (1%), nannies (1%), out-of-hours school clubs (1%).


Impact of grammar schools on children’s outcomes

Researchers from the UCL Institute of Education (IOE) looked at a range of social and emotional outcomes, including young people's engagement and well-being at school, their aspirations for the future, in addition to educational attainment levels, to determine the benefits of attending a grammar school.

After comparing how grammar and non-grammar school pupils fared across a range of cognitive, social and emotional outcomes, researchers found attending a grammar school had no positive impact upon teenagers' attitudes towards schools, self-esteem, future aspirations or their English vocabulary.

The study found that children are unlikely to be happier, more engaged at school or have higher levels of academic achievement by the end of Year 9

The director of education at the Nuffield Foundation, which funded the research, also commented that they knew from previous evidence the use of private tutoring heavily skews access to grammar schools in favour of wealthier families, dispelling the myth that they increase social mobility.

About the data

The paper analysed data from 883 children in England and 733 children in Northern Ireland from the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) who had similar academic achievements at primary school and came from families with similar incomes and education levels.


Teacher Supply, Retention and Mobility in London

As part of the Teach London strategy, NFER is working in collaboration with the Greater London Authority to gain a deeper understanding of the factors influencing the recruitment, retention and mobility of London’s teaching workforce. This report explores the characteristics and dynamics of London’s teacher labour market with quantitative analysis of school workforce data, supplemented by discussions with London teachers

  • London has a higher rate of young teachers leaving the profession than other large cities and the rest of England. It also has a steady outflow of teachers in their thirties and forties to teach elsewhere. The most important factor driving low teacher retention in London is higher housing costs.
  • London has more new entrants to its teacher workforce each year than in other large cities and the rest of England, driven by a greater proportion of newly qualified teachers (NQTs). But these new teachers are not enough to replace the many teachers who leave teaching in London each year.
  • Higher proportions of schools with vacancies and of unqualified teachers employed in London, compared to other areas, suggests that the labour market is already experiencing significant shortages in many areas.
  • Early-career teachers are accelerated into middle leadership positions more quickly in London than they are in other areas, due to a lack of more experienced teachers to fill the roles.

Young people turn to Childline over exam stress

  • Childline delivered 3,135 counselling sessions on exam stress in 2017/18 – with just over a fifth taking place in May
  • Half of the counselling sessions were with young people aged 12 to 15 years old.
  • Some of these young people were concerned about:
    • an overwhelming workload
    • pressure from their parents
    • worries about whether they would get the grades they want.
  • Facilitate classroom discussions to get students talking about exam stress.
  • Encourage students to take regular breaks.
  • Encourage students to talk to you or other teachers about how they're feeling.
  • Help students to see exam stress as short-term.


International teacher recruitment: attitudes and experiences

In November 2016, Sheffield Hallam University and the University of Brighton were commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to research schools' approaches to recruiting teachers from abroad, their motivations, behaviours and the perceived benefits and barriers to recruiting internationally. More specifically, the research aimed to help inform decisions on how the DfE might support the recruitment of international STEM and MFL teachers and to identify key principles for the design and delivery of international recruitment initiatives.

  • Most school leaders who had recruited internationally in the last three years described doing so as a necessary 'last resort' or an additional strategy for overcoming the local shortage of teachers, as opposed to being a desirable option.
  • International teachers were often contracted on a daily/supply basis through the agency for the first year. Although costlier for the school, the opportunity to terminate the contract on either side was seen as advantageous.
  • International recruits tended to leave within two years because of visa restrictions, meaning difficulties in teacher recruitment and retention often remained.
  • In general, school leaders considered that international recruits often took a long time to acclimatise to living and working in England and need a significant amount of support to enable them to successfully manage the demands of their teaching role, and to settle into living in England.
  • Two-thirds of schools that had recently recruited international teachers did not plan to recruit from abroad in future but would consider it again as a last resort if they could not find teachers nationally. Their plans tended to prioritise attracting and retaining English-trained teachers.
  • Of respondents who had left teaching in England, 48 per cent were now working as teachers in other countries, and 17 per cent were working in other occupations in England.
  • The most common reasons for leaving teaching in England were 'negative experience of English schools' and 'unsatisfactory pay and conditions'.

About the research:

  • 44 telephone interviews with head teachers, principals, Human Resources (HR) representatives, and other school leaders in secondary schools across England. Of these, 27 schools had recruited international teachers within the last three years, and 17 had not recruited international teachers within the last three years, although many had either direct or indirect experience of working with or trying to recruit international staff.
  • A survey of international teachers was sent to 13,436 teachers who trained in another country and obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) between September 2014 and December 2016, according to DfE records. All of these individuals were from a country in the EEA or were classified as an Overseas Trained Teacher (OTT) from Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the United States. No other countries were represented in the sampling frame. A sample of 3,357 was achieved (a response rate of 25%).


Finding a better way to identify children experiencing domestic violence

Acting on the fact that they saw no agreed approach regarding how best to identify and respond to children who are exposed to domestic violence, researchers at universities in the UK (Bristol, Queen Mary and Cambridge) and Canada (McMaster and Western) have combined existing evidence on the subject, integrating findings from 11 studies with 42 children, 220 parents, and 251 health care and social services professionals.

They found that a professional’s ability to identify and respond to children’s exposure to domestic violence was heavily influenced by constraints within the health and social service system. Lack of time, funding cuts and poor inter-agency collaboration all have an impact. Professionals needed more training and resources to be able to respond to these children and their families in an appropriate and safe way.

Healthcare and social service professionals should receive sufficient training and ongoing individual and system-level support to provide acceptable identification of an initial response to children’s exposure to intimate partner violence.

Ideal identification and responses should use a phased approach to enquiry and the World Health Organisation LIVES approach (Listen, Inquire about needs and concerns, Validate, Enhance safety and Support) - integrated into a trauma-informed and violence-informed model of care.


Children live streaming on the internet

The results of an online survey of 1,000 10-16-year-olds by YouGov for Barnardo’s suggest thousands of younger children may be putting themselves at risk by sharing live videos on sites with a minimum age limit of 13. These include SnapChat, YouTube, Instagram Stories, Facebook Live, and, which provide inadequate safety controls and settings.

  • 57% of 12-year-olds and more than one-in-four children aged 10 (28%) had live streamed content over the internet.
  • Almost a quarter of 10 to 16 year-olds (24%) say they or a friend have regretted posting live content on apps and websites
  • Just 14% said nothing would worry them about live streaming and half of the respondents said they do not post live content.

Barnardo’s UK-wide child sexual exploitation services have seen a 38% year-on-year increase* in the number of people they support and its research indicates nearly half of the children they help have been groomed online, with two-thirds going on to be sexually abused offline.

Barnardo’s insists that children are made aware of the dangers online in the delayed compulsory relationship and sex education lessons in all English schools - Three-quarters of children between the ages of 11 and 15 felt they would be safer if they had age-appropriate sex and relationship education (SRE), according to a YouGov poll for the charity last year.

Also this fortnight

  • The DfE published their areas of research interest
  • Living Streets publish 21 recommendations to support children walking to and from school on safe unpolluted and enjoyable streets
  • The DfE released their children’s services omnibus, covering children’s social care; early years and childcare provision in authorities; and services for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.