Trends in secondary science teacher recruitment

  • There has been a further increase in the number of science teacher advertisements compared to the same period last year.
  • The proportions of science teacher positions that require specialists in biology, chemistry or physics vary greatly by school type and location, suggesting big disparities in the provision of science education.
  • Based on an analysis of repeat advertisements, there is no evidence that specialist science teacher positions are any harder to fill than general science positions.
  • There are also large differences in the proportions of part-time, temporary and maternity-cover positions across various science subjects. These results are consistent with the idea that biology teachers are more likely than physics teachers to be female, with potential implications for gender disparity in subject choice at A-level.

Figure 1: Science teacher advertisements
Sources: School websites; SchoolDash.
Figure 2: Proportions of teacher advertisements by subject
Sources: School websites; SchoolDash analysis.
Figure 3: Science teacher positions per 10,000 teachers by school type (May 2017-March 2019)
Notes: Putative repeat advertisements have been omitted. See Footnote 3 for details. School deprivation figures 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. Small schools have fewer than 700 pupils, large ones have more than 1,200. A small proportion of low attainers means less than 12% and a high proportion means more than 18%. Urban, suburban and rural groups use ONS rural-urban categories applied to school postcodes.
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; SchoolDash.
Figure 4: Science teacher positions per 10,000 teachers by region (May 2017-March 2019)
Notes: Putative repeat advertisements have been omitted. See Footnote 3 for details.
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash.
Figure 5: Specialist science teacher positions by school type (May 2017-March 2019)
Notes: Putative repeat advertisements have been omitted. See Footnote 3 for details. For definitions of school types, see footnote to Figure 3.
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; SchoolDash.
Figure 6: Specialist science teacher positions by region (May 2017-March 2019)
Note: Putative repeat advertisements have been omitted. See Footnote 3 for details.
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash.
Figure 7: Repeat advertising rates for science teacher positions by school type (May 2017-March 2019)
Notes: For definitions of school types, see footnote to Figure 3.
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government; SchoolDash.
Figure 8: Repeat advertising rates for science teacher positions by region (May 2017-March 2019)
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash.
Figure 9: Proportions of maternity, part-time and temporary positions by subject (May 2017-March 2019)
Sources: School websites; Department for Education; Office for National Statistics; SchoolDash.
  1. This analysis is based on data gathered by indexing school websites every weekday in order to search for any new vacancies advertised there. This process does not capture all vacant positions because: (a) not all positions are advertised on school websites, (b) even when they are, they are not necessarily presented in a way that can be automatically indexed, and (c) websites are sometimes unresponsive or otherwise unavailable. For this reason, the data presented should be thought of as being based not on a comprehensive list of all vacancies but on a subset. However, positions were detected for well over 90% of schools and the representation of different subgroups was generally consistent, so there are no obvious reasons to suspect systematic biases. This means that any variations, such as differences between subjects or changes over time, are likely to represent genuine underlying trends. All data presented in this analysis are from mainstream state secondary schools, sixth-form colleges and FE colleges in England. Primary schools, special schools, independent schools and establishments outside England have been omitted.
  2. Note that this analysis is based on a different data set to the one used in the previous Gatsby analysis, so the results of these two studies are not directly comparable.
  3. Repeat advertisements are defined as new advertisements that overlap with the subject area of an earlier advertisement for the same school which appeared at least 21 days but no more than 90 days previously. This method almost certainly creates both false positives and false negatives, but manual inspection suggests that the results are in line with classifications made by human experts.
  4. Interestingly, we see a similar pattern among technician vacancies, where science positions account for about 40% of the total. Grammar schools, single-sex schools and Ofsted 'Outstanding' schools are much more likely to advertise for technicians in biology, chemistry or physics, while schools with higher levels of deprivation or lower Ofsted ratings are much more likely to recruit for general science technicians. However, absolute numbers for technician posts are much lower than for teachers (roughly fivefold smaller), making them less statistically reliable and they are not analysed in detail here.
  5. The corresponding figure in the previous Gatsby study was 34%, but the methods used differed somewhat so these two figures are not directly comparable.
  6. It is important to qualify this finding. Because general science positions are more numerous than biology, chemistry and physics positions, it is more likely that we will overestimate the repeat rate for the former. This is because it is more likely for a given school to have two science vacancies in quick succession than (say) two biology vacancies. In either case, if they are sufficiently close together we may misidentify the second advertisement as a repeat of the first. There is no reliable way to correct for this short of speaking with each school about each position. It is therefore better to think of these results on their own as being consistent with the idea that specialist biology, chemistry and physics positions are no harder to fill than general science positions rather than providing definitive evidence that they are easier to fill.
  7. These were defined as positions for which the part-time, temporary or maternity status was explicitly stated within or close to the job title. It does not include positions where this was specified elsewhere or not included at all in the online information.

A new map of English education

Map 1: English local authority areas by region
Figure 1: Distributions of social, demographic and educational indictors among English local authorities
Map 2: Local authority areas by clustering group
Figure 2: Distributions of social, demographic and educational indictors among English local authorities
  1. For a list of sources, see the first post in this series.
  2. The clustering analysis used the DBSCAN algorithm applied to the following data fields: 'Urbanisation (%)', 'Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (%)', 'Pupils identifying as white British (%)', 'KS1: Meets expectations in phonics (%)', 'KS2: Expected standard in reading, writing and maths (% of pupils)' and 'Pupils achieving grades 9-4 in English and maths GCSEs (%)'. As with the rest of the analysis in this series, the clustering process omitted two small local authorities, the City of London and the Isles of Scilly, because they do not generate enough data for meaningful comparisons. They were added afterwards to the 'Outliers' group.

 

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