Give teachers ‘more money and free time’ for working in tough schools

incentives to work in touch schools

Teachers would be more likely to work in tough schools if given more money and free periods, poll suggests

Teachers believe that offering more money and more time out of the classroom are the best ways to encourage the best staff to work in schools in disadvantaged areas, new research has found.

From a sample of 1,430 teachers, 35 per cent thought that increased pay or bonuses could encourage more teachers to teach in challenging schools, while 33 per cent said more free periods.

Teachers also thought that teachers should receive financial rewards for improving their pupils’ results, with nearly two-thirds supporting additional cash, according to the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) poll carried out for the Sutton Trust mobility charity.

A report outlining the findings said: “The most popular response overall was for increasing financial incentives, but the most popular suggestion for secondary school teachers was fewer contact hours (41 per cent).

“Other suggestions…mainly focused on less pressure and greater recognition of the challenges faced by teachers in these schools from Ofsted and/or the government.”

The findings were released today, as a separate study revealed that more experienced teachers were “more effective” than those in the first few years of their careers. But they were more likely to work in less disadvantaged schools.

The study, from the University of Cambridge – also for the Sutton Trust – found that teachers in the most advantaged fifth of schools in England have an average of nearly one-and-a-half years more experience than those in the least advantaged.

The findings – based on responses from 2,500 teachers in England – also revealed that teachers in the most disadvantaged schools were more likely to be teaching multiple subjects.

The analysis of existing data from the OECD’s Talis teacher survey 2013 finds that a quarter of teachers in the lowest attaining schools taught three or more subjects.

By contrast, 13 per cent of teachers in the highest attaining schools did the same.

Lead researcher Anna Vignoles, professor of education at Cambridge, said:

“Teachers are the heart of an effective education system. There are real challenges around recruitment, retention and improving teachers’ satisfaction with their jobs, particularly in our most disadvantaged schools.”

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL teaching union, said that she believed giving teachers more time outside of the classroom was a key issue, and increasing the starting salary to ensure a good flow of teachers.

She added that the pressures in “tough schools” were causing England to “replicate the French system”, where the least experienced teachers ended up in the most difficult schools.

“And one of the features of those schools is high staff turnover,” she said.

The results of the NFER poll and the findings of the Cambridge study were released today as key figures in education gathered for a major “summit” on social mobility.

The Best in Class event, organised by the Sutton Trust, will bring together policymakers, academics and the teaching profession to discuss how best to improve social mobility through schools.

Nick Gibb, the schools minister, and Andreas Schleicher, director of education at the OECD, will give the keynote addresses. Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw is also expected to speak.

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