Politics

Prospects for career in teaching ‘never been better’, claims Gibb

Schools minister says free schools have 'liberated' the teaching profession and MATs let leaders advance earlier

Schools minister says free schools have 'liberated' the teaching profession and MATs let leaders advance earlier

Nick Gibb

The prospects for a “well-rewarded” career in teaching are “greater now than they have ever been”, the schools minister has claimed.

Nick Gibb appeared in front of MPs on the House of Commons education committee as part of its inquiry into Ofsted’s work with schools.

Here’s what we learned.

1. Prospects for rewarding teaching career ‘never better’

During the hearing, Gibb paid tribute to the “brilliant teaching workforce and a brilliant headteacher workforce in our country”, and claimed pay levels “I think have increased significantly at all levels, but particularly I would say at senior levels in our system”.

He said it was a “good time to be a leader in our system because, because of the MAT system” because medium and large academy trusts could “afford to promote fairly young to head of school, because they’ve got that infrastructure above them”.

“If you’ve been a head of school you can then become an executive principal, an executive head and so on.

“So there is scope to beyond head of school now, so I think the opportunities for ambitious, able people to come into teaching have never been better. The prospects for a well-rewarded and interesting and demanding professional career I think are greater now than they have ever been.”

Gibb was questioned about retention rates in the sector. Record numbers of teachers left the profession last year for reasons other than retirement.

Headteacher turnover rates are well up on before Covid, with a Teacher Tapp survey showing leaders experiencing  burnout had doubled since 2019.

2. Conservatives have ‘liberated the profession’

Gibb also said one of the things he’s “quite proud of” since 2010 “is that we’ve allowed teachers to have their own practice, which you could never do really unless you were in a private school”.

“Now there are over 600 free schools, most of which were set up by groups of teachers, and if you look at the top of the performance table, it’s dominated by free schools. This is what real professional autonomy is about.

“We have liberated the profession to do this. So it is an exciting time to come into teaching.”

3. Small schools ‘not engaged in big debates’

Gibb’s evidence followed that of Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman, who talked about how some schools not inspected for some time had become “a bit detached from what the rest of the world has been learning and seeing and recognising”.

“The whole debate and growth in knowledge about curriculum, about pedagogy, about assessment has passed them by,” she said.

Gibb told MPs that “some schools are, particularly a small primary school, are not engaged in the big debates about education, pedagogy, curriculum.

“And the involvement of Ofsted periodically helps them to do that. And then we have a whole raft of support that can come in, on the curriculum if that’s the issue, on behaviour if that’s the issue, on safeguarding if that’s the issue, to help that school improve.”

4. Wilshaw wrong on single-phrase judgments

Wilshaw
Wilshaw

Last month, former Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told MPs the days of single-phrase judgments “are coming to an end”.

Asked if he agreed with Wilshaw, Gibb said: “No.

“Certainly I think it should be kept simple and clear. And behind that one word, as I said, there are four different judgments and behind those four different judgments there’s a whole raft of evidence that’s documented by Ofsted based on evidence.

“Ofsted continues to look at its systems and inspection approaches, about how it can improve its processes, and that will continue. It’s continued under Amanda. And I’m sure that Sir Martyn will want to build on that.”

5. Wellbeing support should be ‘commonplace’

Gibb was quizzed about the impact of inspection on the wellbeing of headteachers, and pointed to the government’s funding of Education Support’s provision for leaders.

He said that support was “important”, adding: “If you go into the private sector, senior leaders in the big industries…this is commonplace, this sort of counselling that chief executives of big major companies have.

“And I think it’s important we have the same facilities available for the leaders of our school system. It’s a very pressured job. It’s an important job. And this counselling I think is proving very effective.”

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12 Comments

  1. Nicola Mary Jack

    Nick Gibb is clearly completely naive about the appeal of the teaching profession. You only have to look at the data to see that what he is saying is at odds with the reality of teachers’ response to their working life and Conditions.

    • Another out of touch load of claptrap from those that have little if any real experience of the profession. You might want to consider who these fast trackers are going to be leading? With teachers leaving in droves, maybe that’s where you need to be looking. I’ll give you the heads up, it’s work load, under funding, lack of SEND support and the forever present Spector of OFSTED.

    • Why is it that the people who are making decisions about our profession and casting judgements on education very seldom have spent any time in a school other than as part of their own education. His comments are so out of touch and he clearly has no real idea of what is going on in schools. It is not a good tk.e to get ahead – we lack funding from the governemt and as a result we’re having to me strategic cuts which makes the job even harder and the workload greater. Staff retention is at an all time low and only one quarter of newly trained teachers are still in the profession after 5 years. Education is in a dire situation and will be broken beyond salvation if the government do t invest in its future.

  2. Tim Cumberland

    So rapid promotion to management out of the classroom is the incentive. The result will be a hierarchy of inexperienced leaders with little or no respect from those still doing the job. Ask why teachers in the classroom are leaving the profession. Ask them what can be done rather than promote inexperienced underachievers seeking kudos.
    Retired after 34 years in a variety of roles including SLT. Would not recommend teaching as a career.

    • James Little

      Having spent more than 30 years teaching I’ve seen countless talentless bureaucrats in tight suits ascend the greasy pole at breakneck speed and been subject to their ridiculous inspirational claptrap. Once upon a time you need to get some years in before even being considered for a year leader post. But what really concerns me is this … does the wonderful Mr Gibb maintain a fan club? And where can I buy a t-shirt? He is a true education hero! What a guy!

  3. Young and inexperienced teachers becoming leadership is part of the problem. Reward classroom teachers better so they can stay in the classroom, develop their skills and give children the best education at the chalk face. Unfortunately, massive underfunfing means teachers have to churn out lesson after lesson to over packed classrooms and have virtually no time to refine lessons and resources.

  4. Chandler

    I thought this article was a parody.
    The whole problem is recruiting young teachers with bonus’ and fast track promotions. Meaningless buzz words and ‘scripts’ replace experience and emotional intelligence.
    We need to keep teachers in the classroom. Teachers who still have integrity and value the vocational aspect of the profession.
    Education should be about the students. Not about how fast teachers can climb the ladder.

  5. S. Turner

    So we can’t recruit sufficient teachers to fill the places left by experienced and young teachers who are leaving in droves.
    The solution is to advertise how quickly a new teacher can move out of the classroom into Leadership roles with a much larger salary, bypassing those teachers who do want to teach.
    Hmm.

  6. The statistical analysis Mr Gibb refers to is simply not true. Free schools are not top of the leagues and would be even lower, if you considered that many schools are selective.
    Let’s have a proper informed debates rather than reductionist nonsense.
    The answer has never been to thrust schools into academies, for the sake of ease and just recreate Local Authorities. Trusts, by design, are not good -good trusts are good.
    It’s a very subtle and nuanced view that politicians can’t seem to get their heads around.
    Advocating rapid promotion will lead to exactly what we have now -Senior DFE policy advisors who are moving targets, shifting from role to role and never held to account.