Summer is in full swing. You can tell because if you go to any major city you will find thousands of yellow-bibbed primary children running around with worksheet. Just this morning I was mobbed by one crowd allegedly on their way to doing ‘geography’ in the park ?
While they are busy sunning themselves this afternoon, here’s what we learned in the past week from your tapping…
A few years ago, when performance-related pay was brought in, a trade union leader was overheard saying that it would usher in an era of legal action. “Give it a few years of teachers negotiating their pay and watch how, five years from now, the wages of women will have plummetted compared to men, at which point we’ll be after them in court.”
We are not quite at the point of sexist pay discrimination cases, a la the BBC, but this week’s questions did reveal some important differences in the way teachers negotiate their salary.
Thirty per cent of teachers say they have, at some point, argued for a higher wage than initially offered.
However, the proportion of men who have asked for more pay is much higher than for women (37% compared to 27%).
One might argue that this is circumstantial. Perhaps the men were simply in more discussions about their jobs, and so had more opportunity.
But men and women also revealed different comfort levels when asking for more pay. 27% of female teachers strongly agreed they would feel uncomfortable arguing for a higher salary. The figure for men was half that, at just 13%.
Even worse: women’s reluctance to ask for more pay appears to get worse when they get towards headship, whereas men get more confident!
Theories exist about why this happens, and there’s a debate about who needs to change: is it women who should be asking for more, or should society be making pay offers more transparent and equal? Either way, what the data shows is that as long as pay is negotiated, there will always be some people who are reluctant to push for more and so are likely to lose out. Those people are more often women, although we shouldn’t discount the substantial proportion of men who also said they feel uncomfortable. Perhaps this data will help make everyone feel 10% braver in negotiations.
A big learning point for Teacher Tapp this year was the extent of differences in opinion between teachers who have children and those who do not. On issues such as workload, we’ve not seen anywhere near the level of differences that we expected. But we do see that attitudes towards parental involvement differ between teachers who are parents, and those who are not.
The questions we’ve asked so far have been about parents’ rights to do things. For example, take their children on term-time holidays or keep them home from an exam. What we hadn’t looked at is how well teachers believe the parents at their school know what goes on inside it.
We therefore asked a basic question: ‘The parents at our school have a good idea of our school’s strengths and weaknesses’. Around half of teachers agreed their parents DID have a good, 13% neither agreed nor disagreed, and the rest disagreed.
There wasn’t a great deal of difference between primary and secondary school teachers on this, which was surprising given that primary teachers report much higher levels of interaction with parents.
However, it does seem that things vary depending on the wealth of the pupil intake. Schools with low proportions of children on free meals reported much higher levels of parent knowledge about the school’s strengths and weaknesses.
Does this matter? One of the reasons for Ofsted’s existence is to communicate to parents about the strengths and weaknesses of schools. By having lots of data in performance tables, and independent reports of what’s going on in schools, parents should be able to have an equally accessible view of what’s going on. And yet, here we see teachers saying they don’t think parents are equally engaged.
What might parents want to do differently if they were in charge, though? Teachers are professionals and so theoretically know best about how to run schools. Parents, however, are the experts on their children. So we asked teachers what they felt parents would take control of if allowed to do so.
For primary, the top five (in rank order) were:
- Extra-curricular activities
- Reporting to parents
- Behaviour management
For secondary schools, it was almost the same but ‘curriculum’ (and access to GCSEs) replacing extra-curricular activities:
- Reporting to parents
- Behaviour management
The lists are useful as they show that parent interaction is not as different across primary and secondary as we might expect.
If a school leader focuses on these aspects of their school, the data suggests, at least loosely, that this would be a fruitful way to make parents feel more involved.
The government and the education select committee are both undertaking reviews of school exclusions. Around 17,000 young people appear to go missing each year during their GCSEs, and it’s not entirely clear why, but there is a suggestion that at least some are pushed out of schools for the sake of making the school’s results look better.
Exclusion debates always prompt fierce responses. The idea that schools should never exclude students, for any reason, is vehemently disliked. 56% of teachers strongly disagree with the sentiment, and only 9% showed any level of agreement with it.
One hypothesis is that teachers who believe exclusions should NEVER be used will cluster either in very wealthy schools, and so never really deal with the reality of lots of exclusions, OR they work in very challenging schools and so see the stark consequences for children who are excluded.
Actually, we found a remarkably consistent attitude across schools in all areas. Primary teachers in the wealthiest areas were more ready to accept a ‘no exclusions’ idea, but otherwise everyone was roughly on the same page.
Headteachers do seem to be harsher than classroom teachers, however. The data below shows how only 38% of primary teachers strongly disagree with the idea, compared to 58% of primary teachers, and 84% of secondary headteachers!
The government will need to take this into account as it moves forward with the exclusions review. Heads would not take well to being told they cannot exclude.
Finally, this week we gazed into the future and asked people if they would want to be a headteacher one day:
Thankfully, quite a lot do! Phew. 9% of teachers are definite headteacher wannabes, whic means there’s roughly enough, especially if some of the 27% perhaps crowd also sneak through.
But we’ve identified another of those gender issues…
Men are more than twice as likely to say they would like to be a headteacher one day. Perhaps this tells us why they feel more confident in negotiating pay when they get offered a job?!
Does it matter? That will depend on your view of identity politics. But it certainly shows there is a difference in the way teachers imagine their futures.
5. Finally, as ever, we learned that you really love our daily tips, so here are the links for last week:
Right folks – over and out for another week…
Remember, we need more of you before we can do the really exciting and detailed analysis!
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