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What Teachers Tapped This Week #22 - 26th February 2018

26 February 2018

Tappsters! We’ve made it to 2,000 users.

This means you are now part of a very exciting, and very considerably-sized experiment into teacher surveying. Like the individuals involved in the Mass Observation Studies of the 1930s, you are helping uncover secrets we never thought we could find. Thank you!

But more is always better. So, keeping sharing!  Stick Teacher Tapp on Facebook, share on Twitter, tell everyone at your kids’ birthday party, etc, etc. More users, equals better results, equals better ways of helping the profession uncover what’s really happening on the ground.

Right, onto this week’s findings.

1.How much is a multi-academy trust CEO worth?

Last week, the academies minister Lord Agnew wrote to school governors urging restraint over CEO pay. But how much is too much?

Around a third of teachers think CEO pay should be capped at £100,000 and another third would cap at £150,000.

Given that headteacher salaries for individual schools are maxed at £110,000 under the standard pay and condition terms, it may be difficult for governors to find chief executives willing to take on multiple schools for less than this figure.

Primary teachers were stricter on chief executive pay than secondary colleagues. And they were also more ambivalent, with 12% saying they could not answer or did not know.

At present, only 23% of primaries are academies. This means most primary teachers are in maintained schools and their understanding of what a chief executive does in the role may be limited.

If a teacher’s closeness to the role matters, we also wondered if views on maximum salary vary with responsibility. We’ve looked at this before and previously found the majority of headteachers felt the salary ought to exceed £200,000 with 35% arguing for no limit. At the time our sample was very small, however, so we asked again.

This time you can see that headteachers were more likely to agree with a higher salary cap than a classroom teacher but more than half still set a cap of £150,000 or less.

This is a difficult finding for the sector as it shows the dislike for people earning high wages, but the sums are much lower than benchmarked salaries in other sectors. For example, Third Sector magazine regularly looks at chief executives of companies in the health, housing and other charitable sectors. In the case of health, chief executive salaries can reach up to £600,000.

Finally, we wondered if some of the issue may be related to location. Salaries in London, for example, are typically much higher than elsewhere, and living/housing costs are typically higher in the South East commuter belts because of this. Are teachers more forgiving of higher salaries in areas where leaders have higher living costs?

Teachers in London did show the greatest leniency towards salaries, but the majority were still in favour of a £150,000 cap. 

By contrast, zero teachers in the north-east did not agree with an ‘anything goes’ policy for pay.

Views on multi-academy trust pay therefore appear to be a function of the phase a teacher works in, their role in school, and where they live. If so, this raises interesting questions for governing bodies. As academy trusts increasingly move away from local boards packed with parents and community members, to having national boards filled with professionals, then it is likely those governors will feel happier to sign off on higher pay rates even though teachers, it seems, are not at all convinced this is what’s needed.

Honest conversations will be needed to stop this expectation gap from opening up even further.

2. ?Should teachers be in charge of budgets? 

A strange aspect of teaching life is that you can find yourself responsible for budgets without ever really having any training in financial management. If you’re the sort of person who loves a mortgage spreadsheet, this may not be a problem. But how good is the average teacher on financial literacy? We asked three questions to see!

Turns out – around half of teachers are pretty hot on financial literacy, and only a tiny percentage are absolutely hopeless.

On the upside, more headteachers got all 3 right than did classroom teachers. So that’s relieving. (We’ll try not to worry about the 1% who didn’t get any right!)

Should you ever find yourself stuck on finance quesitons, (arts and English teachers, we’re looking at you – see below), then the teachers to turn to are maths teachers, followed (strangely) by language teachers! Anyone know why? Is it all the counting in two languages that helps!?

3. Which subjects are most important?

YouGov recently asked the public which subjects were the most important for schools to teach. English and maths hit the top spot; with computing, sex education, and history following close behind. The four least important were religious education, Latin, drama, and classics.

We decided to push this concept further and see if there was just one subject that had to be dropped from the primary national curriculum, or from a common GCSE suite of subjects, which would teachers choose?

Teachers were most keen to drop languages at primary school, followed by design & technology and religious education. Compulsory languages in primary is still a reasonably new endeavour, so the result is unsurprising, if slightly dispiriting for the ministers who keep pushing a love of MFL.

But wait! Was this just a case of secondary school teachers shoving languages under the bus? The graph above includes the opinion of all teachers. What did just the primary teachers thinks?

Turns out, the primary teachers really don’t love languages! (Languages is the mustard colour)

Among primary teachers, languages fared by far the worst. Among secondary teachers, it varied depending on the subject, but design & technology was most commonly maligned. Religious education was dropped most by science and creative/arts teachers (make of that what you will!)

So what about secondary schools? What’s not important there?

Introducing business studies into the list of subjects that could be dropped was slightly naughty, because it’s the only non-national curriculum subject in the list. However, that was also intentional. Most schools will have at least one non-statutory subject in its GCSE suite and this was a proxy for that.

Most people choose to remove business studies and religious studies was next. A number of teachers on social media questioned whether this meant people didn’t value the subjects. Certainly it suggests both are vulnerable as budget cuts continue hacking away at secondary staffing numbers.

When breaking down the choice by a teacher’s own subject, the differences were not as large as in primary. But we’ve published below, just in case you wanted a nosy:

4. I’m an NQT: let me be a department head?

One of this week’s surprising findings is in the graph below. It’s a good one for discussing at leadership training, strategy meetings, or even as a question in an interview.

Take a glance:

The breadth of answers is unusual. It means some people think a teacher shouldn’t become a department head unless they’ve been in the job for 10 years, while others think it can be done almost immediately.

Who’s right? We can’t answer that (yet). But we can say something about who is in these categories.

For example, we can see that around 1 in 5 creative arts teachers thinks someone could be a head of subject in their first year.

On the other hand, no one in special schools thinks becoming a department lead is possible in the first year.

The core subjects – English, maths and science – all had much stricter views on how long it takes to become a department head.

This could be a function of how seriously the subjects are viewed in school. But it’s also likely affected by the number of teachers in a subject department. If you are an art teacher, there may only be two of you, compared to eight English teachers. This means the job of head of department is qualitatively different and also that it will take you longer to get into the job because there are more people to take a promotion ahead of you.

This difference raises questions for career pathways. Maths teachers can command higher wages outside of the teaching profession because their math skills are useful in a variety of jobs. One way for their teaching salary to remain competitive by contrast is for them to be promoted. Yet, it’s likely that the people who will interview them (from within their own subject) will expect them to be working for longer in a classroom-only role than would be the case in another subject. This means that maths teachers could be on lower-pay for longer than teachers in other subjects (say, PE or history) simply because there is an expectation of them taking more time in teaching before moving up into management. If department head is an expected step before becoming assistant or deputy head, this is particularly problematic for teachers in larger departments.

On social media, teachers had lots of good points on this:

Ultimately, the finding shows how differently people think about this one. Worth mulling over before starting recruitment for a new head, otherwise you may find your senior leaders very divided over a decision.

5. Would you leave teaching if you won the lottery? 

Given it was a big Euromillions week (one UK winner took home £78m), we decided to ask the dinner party question:

None of which is great news if your staff are in a syndicate and they win. But which are the staff you need to worry about most? THE ART TEACHERS! 

40% of teachers in the creative and practical arts said they would definitely be off if they took home a jackpot! Almost 10% of humanities and social science teachers said they would definitely stay, however. (Man, you can’t even pay the historians to stop banging on about their subject ?)

6. Finally, as ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:

Dylan Wiliam – 9 things every teacher should know

What to do when lesson observations go wrong

Can text messages solve illiteracy?

Do school visions really matter?

Numbers and memory and a guy in a doctors surgery

Managing lateness and low level disruption


Right folks – over and out for another week…

In the meantime, please keep sharing what we are doing. Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!

Here’s the powerpoint slide (with script), a PDF, and a black-and-white one-pager to help out with that.


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