School staff recruitment during the pandemic

  • Teacher recruitment activity at secondary schools in England was even lower in 2020-2021 than in 2019-2020, with a shortfall in online advertisements of more than 7,000 (-22%) compared to the last pre-pandemic year.
  • The largest percentage declines were seen in English (-31%), Maths (-27%) and Science (-25%). These same subjects also showed the largest absolute decreases in numbers of advertisements (more than 4,000 in total).
  • Technician recruitment showed a very different pattern that seems more in step with the rest of the economy. Strong growth since March 2021 resulted in more or less normal levels of recruitment for the 2020-2021 academic year as a whole. Recent hiring of technicians in subjects such as Computing or Design and Technology has been especially high, easily exceeding pre-pandemic levels.
  • These trends – depressed teacher recruitment activity coupled with buoyant recruitment of technicians – have so far continued into the early part of the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • In contrast to teachers, headteacher turnover did not decline in 2019-2020 or 2020-2021. However, the most recent academic year did show a small increase among secondary schools as well as considerable rises in out-of-season turnover during the winter and spring.
  • The accompanying paper includes survey results from our collaborators at Teacher Tapp, which provide insights into the underlying thinking and expectations of teachers and school leaders.

Figure 1: Teacher recruitment among secondary schools in England
Notes: Dates on the horizontal axis are for the 2020-2021 academic year. Values for 2019-2020 are those corresponding to periods exactly 52 weeks earlier, those for 2018-2019 to 104 weeks earlier, and those for 2021-2022 to 52 weeks later. This aligns days of the week at the expense of a slight mismatch in dates. 'Arts' includes Art, Music, Dance and Drama; 'Humanities' includes History, Geography, Politics, Law, Economics, Philosophy and Classics; 'Science' includes Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology; 'Technology' includes Computing, Engineering, Design & Technology and Food Technology; 'Other' includes Business Studies, Media Studies and Physical Education.
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Year-on-year change in teacher recruitment among schools in England (versus 2018-2019)
Notes: See notes for Figure 1.
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 3: Year-on-year change in teacher recruitment by subject (versus 2018-2019)
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 4: Numbers of schools by quantity of advertisements published
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 5: Proportion of advertisements that mention NQTs
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: Specialist science teacher positions by school type
Notes: Only mainstream state schools in England are included. School deprivation figures are based on pupils' eligibility for free school meals, with bands defined by the DfE. Local deprivation figures based on the mean IDACI of postcodes within a 4km radius of each school, with schools then divided into three roughly equally sized groups. A small proportion of low attainers means less than 12% and a high proportion means more than 18%. A low proportion of ethnic-minority pupils means 10% or less, while a high proportion means more than 50%. A low proportion of EAL pupils means less than 4% and a high proportion means more than 15%. Small schools have fewer than 700 pupils, large ones have more than 1,200. Small MATs are those with 10 or fewer schools. Urban, suburban and rural groups use ONS categories applied to school postcodes. Coastal schools are those within 5km of the shoreline as the proverbial crow flies.
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 7: Technician recruitment among schools in England
Notes: Dates on the horizontal axis are for the 2020-2021 academic year. Values for 2019-2020 are those corresponding to periods exactly 52 weeks earlier; those for 2018-2019 are 104 weeks earlier. This aligns days of the week at the expense of a slight mismatch in dates.
'Arts' includes Art, Music, Dance and Drama; 'Science' includes Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology; 'Technology' includes Computing, Engineering, Design & Technology and Food Technology; 'Other' includes all other subjects. See notes to Figure 1 for a fuller list.
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 8: Year-on-year change in technician recruitment among schools in England (2019-2020)
Notes: See notes for Figure 4.
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 9: Year-on-year change in technician recruitment by subject (2019-2020)
Sources: Secondary school, sixth-form college and FE college websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 10: Number of headteacher changes by month
Notes: Changes unlikely to represent new appointments, such as apparent spelling corrections or changes to surname only, have been filtered out.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash Insights; SchoolDash analysis.
 

How girls and boys differ in STEM subject choice

  • Computing shows the most skewed gender ratio, with only 3 girls for every 20 boys, but Maths and Physics show the biggest notional shortfalls, with over 20,000 girls a year 'missing' in each subject. If anything, these gender gaps widened slightly between 2018 and 2019, particularly in Maths
  • Despite this, Maths remains the second most popular STEM subject among girls (after Biology), with 17% of female A-level students taking it in 2019. This compares to only 4% for Physics
  • Gender disparities exist in all parts of England and at every kind of school. Indeed, they tend to be bigger at schools with low levels of disadvantage, where STEM subjects are more popular across the board but gender differences tend to be even more pronounced
  • Single-sex and independent schools show somewhat less gender-stereotyped subject choice, but it's unclear how much of this is down to the schools themselves rather than simply the characteristics of their intake
  • On a more positive note, we see relatively little evidence for gender-specific cohort effects in which very small numbers of girls or boys wishing to take a subject at a particular school result in none of them doing so

  • Percentage point gap: If a subject is taken by, say, 20% of boys but only 10% of girls then we can say that there is a 10 percentage point gap. One benefit of this approach is that it provides an indicator of roughly how many students we're talking about (on the basis that 1 percentage point corresponds to 1,400-1,500 girls or 1,100-1,200 boys each year).
  • Gender ratio: This shows how many girls take a subject for each boy that does so. It is important to understand because sometimes small percentage-point gaps can hide very large gender disparities. For example, a subject taken by 1% of boys and 0.1% of girls would have a gap of less than one percentage point but a huge boy:girl gender ratio of 10:1.

Figure 1: Difference in proportions of girls and boys taking A-level STEM subjects
Notes: Only mainstream state schools in England are included. A total of 147,000 girls took A-levels in 2018, and 140,000 in 2019. So every percentage point difference is equivalent to about 1,400-1,500 girls. Equivalent numbers for boys are 121,000 (2018) and 113,000 (2019).
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 2: Difference in proportions of girls and boys taking A-level STEM subjects by school type
Notes: Only mainstream state schools in England are included. School deprivation figures are based on pupils' eligibility for free school meals, with bands defined by the DfE. Local deprivation figures based on the mean IDACI of postcodes within a 4km radius of each school, with schools then divided into three roughly equally sized groups. A small proportion of low attainers means less than 12% and a high proportion means more than 18%. A low proportion of ethnic-minority pupils means 10% or less, while a high proportion means more than 50%. A low proportion of EAL pupils means less than 4% and a high proportion means more than 15%. Small schools have fewer than 700 pupils, large ones have more than 1,200. Small MATs are those with 10 or fewer schools. Urban, suburban and rural groups use ONS categories applied to school postcodes. Coastal schools are those within 5km of the shoreline as the proverbial crow flies.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 3: Difference in proportions of girls and boys taking A-level STEM subjects by local authority (2019)
Note: Local authority areas are shown as they existed in 2019. A few have since been divided or merged.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 4: Gender gaps for A-level STEM subjects at state and independent schools (2019)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 5: Ratios of girls : boys taking A-level STEM subjects
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 6: Ratios of girls : boys taking A-level STEM subjects by school type
Notes: For details, see notes to Figure 2.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 7: Ratios of girls : boys taking A-level STEM subjects by local authority (2019)
Note: Local authority areas are shown as they existed in 2019. A few have since been divided or merged.
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 8: Gender ratios for A-level STEM subjects at state and independent schools (2019)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 9: Percentage point gaps and gender ratios by A-level subject (2019)
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 10: Distribution of student numbers by A-level subject in state schools
Sources: Department for Education; SchoolDash analysis.
 

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