REC Education - Change, change, change
We all remember Tony Blair’s ‘education, education, education’ mantra in the lead up to Labour’s landslide victory in 1997. The upshot was significant change to the education landscape during the 13 years of Labour government: capital investment in school infrastructure, an increase in the number of teachers and the launch of the academy programme. However, these changes are nowhere near as radical as the current transformation being driven under the Coalition. The priority for REC Education is to pre-empt immediate and long-term implications for teacher recruitment.
Over the last few months the change process has stepped up a gear and the school system continues to be in the grip of the academy revolution. The government’s mantra is that individual schools should be independent and the traditional middle tier of the educational system is evaporating away. Schools are answering directly to Whitehall and local authorities are being replaced across large swathes of the country by academy clusters.
The big issue for agencies is how these new clusters procure and manage their teaching workforce. New relationships will need to be built and new systems will be put in place. From an REC perspective, our aim will be to ensure that future procurement procedures are conducted in an open and transparent manner and that they balance cost control priorities with a focus on safety and quality of the recruitment process. This need for balance is at the heart of our ongoing dialogue with procurement departments and is the core theme of our public sector resourcing campaign.
In tandem with the development of clusters and the consolidation of the academy model, schools are having to face up to demographic challenges. As Professor Howson of the University of Oxford highlighted at the last REC Education meeting, over 700,000 extra children are forecast to enter primary level education in the maintained sector - with an additional 150,000 pupils expected to join secondary schools in the next five years. Schools will need teachers and plenty of them to deal with the surge in demand. This is good news for supply teaching agencies.
One of the most important recent announcements from Education Secretary Michael Gove was confirmation that academies will be allowed to employ people with no formal teaching qualifications. This will bring academies into line with private schools and the government's flagship free schools, which can hire professionals such as scientists, engineers, musicians and linguists to teach even if they do not have not have qualified teaching status (QTS). There are some concerns over how this change will impact on the quality of teaching and is an area that REC Education will continue to monitor and engage with government on.
With proposed reforms of examinations - the GCSE exam to be replaced by a qualification called the English Baccalaureate Certificate from 2017 - and new safeguarding measures on top of the developments flagged above, there is certainly much to take in. Reviewing the changing landscape, Dr John Dunn, Chair of REC Education, had this to say:
“From changes to teacher standards to the introduction of the new five year limit for newly qualified teacher induction, our sector is being transformed beyond recognition. Supply agencies will continue to play a key role in providing suitably qualified, properly vetted teaching staff and in assisting schools to manage their workforce. Now is the time to take stock and see how this is all playing out on the ground. “
The next REC Education meeting is taking place on November 14th (14.00-16.00). For more information go to http://www.rec.uk.com/regions-sectors/sectors/Education/events.