More experienced teachers ‘more likely to work in affluent schools’ in England

The findings highlight the need for a policy focus on attracting and retaining the best teachers in challenging schools, say experts.

14 March 2022

More experienced teachers in England are more likely to teach in schools with affluent intakes than other developed countries, new research has found.

In an international survey of teaching and learning (Talis) published on Monday, teachers in England with over 10 years in the classroom were found to be less likely to work in schools with a higher proportion of disadvantaged pupils.

The findings show attracting high-quality teachers to poorer schools needs to be a top priority, said James Zuccollo, director for school workforce at the Education Policy Institute (EPI)

“The quality of teaching is the most important element of children’s schooling and it is essential to ensure that all children have access to great teachers,” he said.

“Today’s Talis report shows that England is below the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) average when it comes to the distribution of more experienced teachers, with those who are in the profession longer more likely to be teaching in more affluent schools.

“Given that countries with a more even distribution of quality teachers tend to perform better in international PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) tests, it is imperative that the Government continues to focus on policies that incentivise effective teachers into areas with low pupil outcomes.

“Ensuring that challenging schools have the tools to attract and retain great teachers and the resources to support them must remain a top priority.”

The report finds that experienced teachers are more likely to work in schools with more affluent intakes across all countries.

There are exceptions to the rule, however – more experienced teachers in Colombia, Shanghai and Israel were actually more likely to work in schools with high levels of economically disadvantaged pupils.

Although the report draws on data from before the pandemic in 2018, it also notes that school closures have highlighted “the continued presence of digital divides”.

However, England was found to have a higher proportion of teachers trained in ICT working in disadvantaged schools than many other countries across the OECD.

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