22.In England more pupils are now in schools where Ofsted has rated the quality of teaching, learning and assessment as outstanding or good—90% of primary school pupils and 82% of secondary school pupils in 2016. However, in five of the nine English regions, all in the Midlands or the North, more than 20% of pupils were in secondary schools rated as requires improvement or inadequate in this respect. Across England 88,000 pupils were in schools where teaching, learning and assessment was rated as inadequate, and the proportion of pupils in secondary schools rated as inadequate increased with the deprivation of an area. We pressed the Department for Education (the Department) on why there are such regional differences in teaching quality, the link with deprivation, and what it is doing to address the variation, but it could not provide any satisfactory explanation.
23.The Department explained that its focus is on the 12 opportunity areas it has established. These areas will receive funding and other support with the aim of improving social mobility and ensuring that children in these parts of the country have opportunities to reach their potential. The Department said that it would use opportunity areas to provide more investment to areas of the country that needed teachers the most, and provide more support to schools which struggled to recruit because of their location and particular challenges. It noted that the programme was at a very early stage—six of the opportunity areas had just published their delivery plans and the other six had not even reached that stage.
24.We asked the Department how it would evaluate the opportunity areas programme. It said that the Education Endowment Foundation would evaluate the success or otherwise of the outputs from opportunity areas, and the extent to which they could demonstrate cause and effect. The Department was relying on local areas to define their own priorities which would be used to measure success. It said it would hope to see some practical improvements within a couple of years but by definition social mobility was a generational challenge. In written evidence provided after the session, the Department explained that it had commissioned a ‘process evaluation’ for the first year of the opportunity areas programme, to be published by summer 2018, and that it expected to appoint an organisation in early 2018 to undertake a study to assess the programme’s impact.
25.We also asked how the opportunity areas related to other government initiatives such as the Northern Powerhouse. The Department told us that it was seeking to join programmes up and had recently announced funding of £30 million to support schools that had particular retention problems, of which £10 million would support the Northern Powerhouse. Opportunity areas had access to school improvement funds and teaching leadership funds, as did other schools in challenging circumstances.
26.The witnesses stressed the importance of teachers undertaking good quality continuing professional development (CPD) at all stages of their career, not just in the first few years. The Department does not collect data, but research by the Educational Policy Institute found that on average teachers in England spent only four days a year on CPD in 2013 compared with an average of 10.5 days across the 36 countries covered by the analysis. The headteachers highlighted time and cost as the main barriers to teachers undertaking CPD. Teachers are teaching classes for such a high proportion of their time that little time was available to undertake CPD. In addition, schools could not necessarily afford the cost of cover for teachers who undertook CPD.
27.The Department acknowledged that more needed to be done to increase the quantity and quality of CPD that teachers undertake. It told us that it had been working with headteachers, other experts and the Chartered College of Teaching about how to make improvements. It would consult soon on whether there should be a clearer framework for what CPD a new teacher might expect to do and when and how teachers might develop, and on how the quality assurance of CPD might be improved. The Department also said that it would be investing, including in CPD, in schools with the greatest recruitment challenges. It could not tell us specifically how many schools would receive investment, but it would be “of the order of hundreds of schools”.
28.The Chartered College of Teaching highlighted the role it expected to play, as the professional body for teachers, in supporting access to learning and development. It was establishing ‘chartered teacher status’ which it intended would provide a pathway for young, talented teachers. The College noted that it was important for it to raise awareness of its work so that teachers would join it, and thereby help it to become financially independent of the Department.
54 , para 3.8 and Figure 16
55 Qq 114–119, 123
56 Qq 114–116; , para 1.8
57 Q 122
58 Qq 120–124
59 Department for Education ()
60 Q 119
61 Qq 19–20, 32–33, 35; , para 3.9
62 , para 3.10
63 Qq 36–38, 41
64 Qq 60–62, 130–131
65 Qq 163–165
66 Qq 11, 33–35, 43
29 January 2018