Understanding the complex determinants of teacher shortages: an integrated approach

Lead Research Organisation: Durham University
Department Name: Education

Abstract

Understanding the complex determinants of teacher supply is important for effective workforce planning. The current teacher supply 'crisis' is expected to get worse. Despite the body of work in this area the issue has never been investigated in an integrated way, as this project will. We need to know why: demand for teachers has increased, teacher supply is not sufficient to meet demand and the Teacher Supply Model has failed to predict accurately the number of teachers needed, so that targeted and appropriate initiatives can be used. Teacher shortages are at least partly created by government policies as much as by the mere increase in school intake population. Policy measures, such as raising the education and training leaving age to 18, introduction of the English Baccalaureate, changes in admissions criteria to initial teacher training, caps on intake targets for the different routes into teacher training, the level and method of funding to schools, and the increase in number and diversity of schools, can all influence teacher demand and supply. Modelling cannot anticipate such changes years ahead and these factors are rarely considered in accounts of teacher recruitment and retention. Reanalysis of secondary data suggests that the recent historical patterns of teacher numbers are not closely related to the economic and employment cycles. Therefore, current financial incentives to increase teacher supply are not likely to be effective by themselves. We need to look at alternative approaches to understand why some people are attracted to teaching, and more importantly why some people are not. Much of the evidence so far has focused on the motivations of people who are already in teaching, ignoring those who are not in teaching or who have left. Understanding the reasons for non-participation is important for policy, and this requires a consideration of the motivations and the subjective opportunistic structure of those who do not consider, or even rejected, teaching as a career. This new study will:

1. Clarify the complex determinants of teacher demand and supply.
2. Identify people's intention to go into teaching, those who might consider teaching and those who are on other paths.
3. Characterise these intending, potential and non- teachers.
4. Understand all kinds of barriers to entering teaching.
5. Review the impact of policy initiatives to increase teacher supply.
6. Identify approaches that have the most promise of success.

This new study will use a combination of approaches to look at the issue holistically. We will reanalyze teacher data using various official and other sources, such as the School Workforce Census, DfE, HESA, National College for Teaching and Leadership (NCTL), School Teachers' Review Body, Graduate Teacher Training Registry as well as government reports from 1990 to 2018. We will look at the patterns of teacher demand and supply over time to establish the determinants of teacher supply and demand, and to see how education policies may have an effect on teacher demand and supply. We will review international studies to evaluate the impact of recruitment and retention policies to identify promising ones, giving greater weight to studies with a causal or quasi-experimental design. We will conduct a survey of undergraduates to gather information about their career decisions, plans and motivations. The results will supplement conclusions drawn from the secondary data reanalysis, as well as provide further insights into the impact of policy initiatives.

This study will have important implications for workforce planning in the civil service, and for human capital theory about the social determinants of people's choice of career. It will be of interest to non-academic users: teachers' unions, the NCTL and teacher training agency. Eight users,including the DfE and the Chartered College of Teaching, have confirmed support and expressed an urgency for an independent evaluation of the issue.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research and how?

1. User Group and associated links
Interest group like the DfE, the Chartered College of Teaching, the Association of School and College Leaders, Teaching Schools Council, South Birmingham SCITT and Ninestiles Teaching School Alliance, University of Birmingham teacher education department, Teacher Development Trust, Blessed Edward Bamber Catholic Multi-Academy Trust and Comprehensive Future have agreed to be involved in, or support, this new study from the outset, and are clear that it should be an independently funded and conducted study. They will share experiences on the challenges faced in teacher recruitment and retention, assist with access to students for the survey and dissemination of the findings. They have given their endorsement and in kind contributions in their letters of support. This user group will grow as the project unfolds.

To ensure maximum impact for users, the organisations named above and others agreeing subsequently, will be consulted from the outset to discuss how the findings could be of relevance to them, e.g. what policy initiatives they think work or need to change, and the kind of structural and organisational changes needed within schools. Their experience and feedback will be invaluable to the study. These organisations have a wide network of contacts and have agreed to assist us with dissemination as described in the Pathways to Impact attachment.

2. Stakeholders (schools)
The findings will be relevant to schools and multi-academy chains in terms of retention and recruitment by identifying characteristics of appropriate applicants and the types of schools and regions where recruitment and retention are most challenging. Recommendations for policies and workforce planning can have direct impact on these schools. The systematic review and the career motivation survey/interview will cover issues relating to the mentoring system, continuous professional development, workload and behavioural management. These are directly relevant to schools. The interest groups with their network of contacts with schools have agreed to act as conduits for these findings to be filtered into schools.

3. Policy makers and potential funders
The findings will inform policy-makers on the long-term strategy to dealing with teacher shortages and provide a clearer evidence base for promising initiatives to improve recruitment and retention. Findings of the study (e.g. systematic review) will also guide funding bodies in the kind of research areas to fund and the appropriate research approach to use. The applicants will participate in policy events in the UK such as the Policy-UK forum: Next steps for the UK teaching profession, and convene a roundtable discussion with policymakers.

4. Future research
The findings will identify potential challenges and suggest areas that merit further investigation. The findings can also be seen as working towards a randomised controlled trial in a future project.

5. Wider society and economic impacts
Key findings and recommendations will be distributed via:
- a conference to present and discuss the findings and recommendations to representatives from the DfE, teaching agencies and the teachers' unions, school leaders and ITT providers.
- teacher and practitioner conferences (e.g. Schools North East Annual conference).
- social media (Durham University School of Education twitter, Facebook and website, as well as the applicants' social media outlets and websites), education media, such as The Conversation, ResearchEd, TES, Schools Week and Durham University's Education Media Centre . This ensures that the outcomes of the project are widely available in the public domain. All the applicants have routinely published their work through these outlets and this project will be no exception.

Impact on academic beneficiaries are discussed in the Case for Support and in the Academic Beneficiaries section of the je-S form

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description ESRC Festival of Social Science Durham - Making Education Fairer 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The event was part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science and the theme was: Let's make education fairer. The event focused on the findings of three new studies that suggest ways to improve the outcomes for disadvantaged students at school, and increase the supply of high-quality teachers to areas of high demand. Approximately 60 participants largely from the NE of England and a few from London and elsewhere were present. These included headteachers, school governors, undergraduate and postgraduate students and Dave Cookson (pupil premium champion for the North East).

The event was set in the NE of England, an area of relatively high and chronic deprivation, where secondary schools are deemed by some commentators to be failing their pupils, participation in higher education by local people is low, and specialist teachers are in high demand for poorer areas. The event allowed local people and stakeholders to hear robust evidence-based solutions to these problems, and even to learn that some of the reported issues are not actually problems at all. Participants had a chance to interact in full in a structured way with experts and commentators in order to suggest and refine plans of action, in the form of the BBC "Question Time" format with both pre-prepared and spontaneous questions and comments from the audience participants.

A common comment from the participants was that the event was very informative, and all were very impressed with the high quality and robust evidence presented on that day.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.dur.ac.uk/dece/news/