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Primary Education News
News State schools employ one teaching assistant for every two teachers
Department for Education's annual workforce survey shows 6% rise in teaching assistants and 0.1% teacher vacancy rate
State schools now employ more than one teaching assistant for every two full-time teachers, with lower paid, less-skilled teaching assistants bearing the brunt of the expansion of a school system straining to cope with the mini-baby boom filling classrooms in England.
The Department for Education's annual workforce survey of teacher and school staff showed a slight recovery in teacher numbers from their post-austerity low the previous year but the improvement was dwarfed by a 6% rise in teaching assistants employed in primary and secondary schools within the space of a year.
Including both academy and maintained schools, the number of teaching assistants employed in schools in England on a full-time basis rose to 232,000 in November last year, compared with 219,000 in November 2011. Meanwhile, the equivalent of 442,000 full-time teachers were employed in 2012, compared with 438,000 in 2011 – a rise of barely 1%.
Salaries for full-time teaching assistants range from £13,000 to £21,000 a year – roughly half the salary level paid to full-time teachers. There is no national pay scale for teaching assistants, with rates set by individual local authorities or academies.
The 1:2 ratio of teaching assistants to teachers in state schools is in stark contrast to the private sector.
According to a survey earlier this year by the Independent Schools Council, private schools employed 7,000 teaching assistants and 54,000 teachers, for a ratio of around 1:8.
The growth in teaching assistants is even more pronounced in comparison with 2010. The total number of teachers employed in the current academic year is still 6,000 below 2010's full-time total. But in the same period the number of teaching assistants employed on a full-time basis rose by 18,000.
The increase continues the trend of recent years, with a three-fold rise in the number of teaching assistants employed in state-funded schools since 2000, when just 79,000 were employed.
The figure calculated by the DfE includes higher-level teaching assistants, nursery assistants, literacy and numeracy support staff, as well as other non-teaching staff employed to support teachers in the classroom other than for special needs and minority ethnic pupils support staff.
Teaching assistants in publicly funded schools are overwhelmingly female, with the statistics showing that 92% of the 232,000 full-time equivalent posts are filled by women, compared with 73% of regular teaching positions.
Meanwhile, the shortage of teachers with degree-level qualifications in core subjects such as maths and English continues, although the proportion with relevant qualifications had risen compared with the previous year. The report found that nearly one in four secondary school maths teachers and one in five secondary school English teachers lacked degrees in those subjects.
The survey also show a substantial rise in the number of leading teachers being paid £100,000 or more. More than 800 school headteachers, deputies and assistant heads – including both grant-maintained and academy schools – took home £100,000 or more, a 7% increase from 2011.
In total, 808 teachers with managerial responsibilities earned at least £100,000 in 2012, of whom 230 took home £110,000 or more – twice the average salary for the position of £55,700.
Some 133 of the very top earners were at secondary academies, almost double the 71 in the same wage bracket at local authority-maintained schools, despite 50% more pupils attending maintained secondary schools than academies.
A further 101 leading teachers at primary and special schools were paid £100,000 or more, the DfE said.
The pay figures revealed some interesting discrepancies: the average teacher's salary at a grant-maintained secondary school was £36,100, some £900 a year higher than the salary earned by their peers at a secondary academy. Similarly, teachers at local authority-controlled primary schools earned £32,200 – £1,100 a year more than their academy counterparts.
The teacher vacancy rate remains tiny at just 0.1%, at its lowest level since 2005. There were just 440 unfilled vacancies for full-time teachers in England during the survey's snapshot, with the rate little different between academies and local authority-controlled schools, and between primary and secondary schools.