Large trusts outspend council counterparts on staff development

Large academy trusts are spending almost 75 per cent more on staff development at secondary schools than local authorities, new analysis has discovered.

Education specialists SchoolDash, in collaboration with the Teacher Development Trust, has analysed the trends in staff development amid the sector’s deepening recruitment and retention crisis.

It found large academy trusts – those with 11 or more schools – spent the most across all school types on staff development in 2017-18, over £750 per teacher compared with maintained schools, which spent just under £600.

The gap widens further when looking specifically at secondary schools, with large academy trusts spending 74 per cent more per teacher than maintained schools – £637 compared with £366.

SchoolDash founder Timo Hannay said when combined with a recent survey on teacher autonomy by the National Foundation for Educational Research, this suggests academy trusts “offer less autonomy but more professional development” than maintained schools.

Hannay was reluctant to say which was more appealing – autonomy or progression – but warned “there are not enough good teachers to go around and at some point they will vote with their feet”.

The government’s most recent initial teacher training data, released in November, revealed it had missed its secondary school teacher recruitment target for the seventh year in a row.

Hannay explained that incentives such as development and career progression were vital with education as it is a “people driven business which can’t find enough good people”.

Elsewhere the analysis found the spend on staff development increased in 2017-18 compared with the previous year. The rise in spend reverses a previous trend of falling expenditure.

Previous analysis by SchoolDash found £235.8 million was spent on CPD in 2016-17, a drop of almost nine per cent on the £259 million in 2015-16.

Last year secondary schools spent on average £520 per teacher, while primary schools spent nearly £710.

However, in both cases this represented just a tiny portion of average total spending at 0.54 per cent and 0.66 per cent respectively.

The analysis uncovered huge regional disparity between spend – with London secondary schools spending 26 per cent more per teacher than schools in the east and west Midlands.

Hannay said the reasons for these differences were unclear and could be down to the number of large academy trusts in each region.

However, he said it was likely to be “another thing on the list which needed levelling up” across the country