Age is 'no barrier' to teachers' ability, finds long-awaited working longer review

The age of teachers has no “noticeable effect” on pupil performance, but school staff need more support and clearer guidance to support an age-diverse workforce, according to a new report into the effectiveness of older teachers.

The long-awaited teachers working longer report has finally been published today, four years after it was commissioned by Nicky Morgan.

Evidence clearly shows that age is no barrier to a teacher’s ability to provide effective outcomes for children and young people

According to the report, although reduced energy levels and increased physical limitations coupled with workload pressures can make teaching more difficult for older teachers, the key cognitive skills needed for teaching do not deteriorate significantly before the age of 70.

“Evidence clearly shows that age is no barrier to a teacher’s ability to provide effective outcomes for children and young people,” the report said.

“In particular, it shows that the cognitive abilities needed to teach effectively do not typically diminish until individuals are at least into their seventies and that there is no negative link between the age of teachers and educational outcomes. In other words, good teachers are good
teachers irrespective of their age.

“There is also evidence that older teachers add to the overall educational environment through extending the range of experiences, perspectives and knowledge that students can draw upon. Older teachers should be recognised as an important part of the workforce – for their experience, as well as being mentors – and managers must embed that culture, mindful of their duty to treat their workforce equally, irrespective of their age.”

The report calls for “greater recognition and celebration” of older teachers as an important part of the workforce. “Consistent and effective” support for teachers’ physical, mental and emotional health needs and wellbeing is also needed.

The review also found that managers in schools need more support to manage an age-diverse workforce. At the moment, the extent to which thinking about options for older teachers takes place “varies significantly”.

To rectify this, guidance and training packages should be available to ensure managing an age diverse workforce, supporting flexible working and career planning are all “normal parts of career and workforce management”. Further consideration of flexible working practices for teachers is also needed.

The report also urges Teachers’ Pensions, the group in charge of the teachers’ pension scheme, to improve its online services and consider the best ways of communicating with teachers and managers. This follows a finding that “many teachers and their managers do not understand the TPS provisions, particularly in relation to ill health or phased retirement”.

“There is even some confusion about what their own retirement age is in some cases,” the report added.