Tuesday, 27 October 2015

#TeachersMake: My complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority

Today, faced with a teacher retention crisis of its own making, the DfE launched a new advertisement. Of course, it isn't designed to address the real causes of the crisis. No, the DfE simply hopes to try and attract more applicants to fill the posts of those who have been driven out of the profession.

The advert, however, is in my view, and that of many other teachers, deliberately misleading:

£65K as a great teacher? As many teachers who have angrily taken to social media this evening have been asking, "where are these teachers" ?!  The salary may be technically available but only to the very few classroom teachers paid at the very top of the Inner London range of the very infrequently used 'Leading Practitioners Pay Range'. 

How many teachers receive that kind of salary? Well the DfE should know the statistics, as they are downloadable via https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2014

Table 7a confirms that just 0.6% of teachers are paid on the Leading Practitioners range. However, the minimum of the range is currently as low as £38,598 - so I'd suggest that an even tinier proportion of this tiny proportion are paid anywhere near £65K!

Table 9a of the school workforce statistics also makes clear just how few teachers can expect to earn salaries of £50,000 or more. 80% earn less than £40,000. I've added a graph to help make the Government's figures clear:

The DfE know these figures but are creating a very different impression to would-be teachers. That's why I have written a complaint to the ASA tonight stating: 

The advert is deliberately misleading as it focuses on the salary that teachers might expect to earn through its #teachersmake hashtag. It claims that a teacher may make 'up to £65k as a great teacher'. In fact:
1) Th
at amount is only available to a very few teachers in Inner London paid at the top of the Leading Practitioners pay range. It is not available across the whole of England and Wales. Most 'great teachers' would only be paid on the Main or Upper Pay ranges.
2) The Government's own figures (see table 7a in https://www.gov.uk/.../school-workforce-in-england...) shows that only 0.6% of teachers are paid on the LP pay range and, given that this range starts at as low as £38,598 then only a small proportion of this small proportion of teachers receives a salary anywhere near £65k.
Given that the DfE is fully aware from its own data that the proportion of teachers who might expect to earn this sum is extremely small, this advertisement is creating a deliberately false impression of what '#teachersmake' and should be withdrawn from circulation.

I await a reply.

The other figures - teacher turnover and 'wastage rates'

Instead of wasting millions on misleading adverts, the DfE would do better to consider the real causes for the crisis. The facts are that, after 5 years hard slog, most teachers can only hope (if they've not had their pay progression blocked) to have made it to the top of the Main Pay Range. That's £33,000 pa or £634 per week. If you're working a 63 hour week, that's just £10 per hour. That's what most ‪#‎teachersmake‬ in reality. No wonder there's a crisis.

If the DfE looked again at their figures, they'd find further confirmation. Additional table C1a confirms the real scandal - a 'wastage rate' of 10% leaving the teaching profession every year. Why doesn't the DfE act on that?!


Michael Tidd said...

I think an interesting comparison is the roles the ASA has on broadband. For suppliers to advertise an "up to" speed, they are not allowed to use a theoretical maximum. Rather, they must use a figure which at least 10% of users actually receive. The comparison here suggests that a figure off somewhere in the low £40-thousands region would be more accurate.

Martin said...

Thnaks Michael for your suggestion. I've used it in my follow-up post: http://electmartin1.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/so-just-hundreds-of-teachersmake-65k.html