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Bradford School of Management lecturer's research aims to find solution to low performing city schools

Published: Fri 8 Apr 2016
Bradford School of Management lecturer's research aims to find solution to low performing city schools

Research by an associate lecturer at the University of Bradford School of Management has found that there is a crisis in the city’s schools, with a seven per cent shortage in teaching staff.

Dr George Madine, who lectures in human resource management, says that Bradford schools are languishing at the bottom of the country’s league tables because of the low morale of teaching staff. 

Dr Madine, who is an expert in workplace satisfaction, has been studying the correlation between teaching staff morale and results for nearly four years. Eighteen months ago he was asked by two local teaching unions, the NUT and ATL, to carry out research into Bradford schools. His work then led to Bradford Council asking Dr Madine to produce a report for them outlining how the teaching problem can be solved and rankings can be improved. 

He said: “My report aimed to find a solution to attracting the right quality of teaching staff. You don’t just want to get the teaching numbers up, you need to find the right staff. 

“My aim was to hit the three-pronged Holy Grail of: stopping experience teachers leaving their posts in Bradford; attract talented teaching staff to Bradford; and finally, increase the Ofsted scores.” 

Dr Madine, who did his Doctorate of Business Administration at Bradford School of Management, found that the primary cause of this unhappiness is due to an unreasonably high workload. He also found that the deficit in teaching staff in the Bradford Metropolitan District Council area is predominantly in the core subjects of Maths, English and Science. 

“Bradford is in a vicious circle of being at the bottom of league tables so it is harder to attract the right quality of teaching staff.” he said. “The deficit in teaching staff means the current teachers are having to work longer hours. This leads to workplace dissatisfaction and teachers less likely to be able to enthused pupils.” 

Schools in England are spending £1.3billion a year on supply teachers, which works out at an average of £59,000 per school. However, Dr Madine says Bradford Council spends £15million a year on supply teachers, which is higher than the national average at £65,000 for every one of Bradford’s 230 schools. 

"Some schools in Bradford are spending as much as £500,000 on supply teachers in one academic year; an astonishing sum, that indicates the depth of the problem in some schools," said Dr Madine.

Bradford Council is also spending £600,000 a year on advertising and agency costs to recruit new teachers. 

Dr Madine, who also teaches research methods at Bradford School of Management, said his first step for the trades union research was to create a qualitative survey, which was sent out to all the schools in the district for teachers to answer. 

He got feedback from more than 600 teachers before then speaking face to face with over 200 of them and 150 support assistants. He also spoke with 4,000 children about what causes them to be stressed. 

“When Bradford Council saw the findings of my report they stood up and took notice,” said Dr Madine.

He has since spoken about his findings to the Council’s Education Scrutiny Committee last November and in February this year. 

One of the problems, Dr Madine says, is that older, more experienced teachers, have been leaving Bradford schools and they have been replaced by newly-qualified, with Canada being a popular recruiting ground. 

He said: "As seen in a report in the Guardian newspaper, this is a headline grabbing strategy but these Canadian teachers are not only expensive to recruit but they tend to only last a year in Bradford before moving on to somewhere more appealing. A further issue with recruiting NQTs (Newly Qualified Teachers) is that the experience and the knowledge that comes with older teachers isn’t being replaced, which results in schools slipping down the league tables."

“As soon as I started compiling the statistics from my surveys it was clear why teachers in Bradford were leaving – most teachers said the workload was excessive for what they were getting paid. It’s not unknown for teachers to be working the equivalent of 12-hour days. Stress levels are high amongst teachers because of the hours they are working and the excessive load along with the resultant poor work-life balance is high on the list of reasons why teachers said they were leaving the profession. 

“When teachers are being worked harder and harder they get tired, and then they lose creativity. That’s when they struggle to keep students engaged, so youngsters play up. Once that happens you lose control. It’s the perfect storm for running schools down.” 

He added: “Teachers need to enjoy their jobs to get good results. Job satisfaction is what’s missing here. If their workload is too big they can’t enjoy their jobs, so they can’t bring learning to life and engage pupils.” 

One of the questions Dr Madine asked was, ‘Has anything good happened in this school in the last two weeks? Just 15 per cent of respondents answered ‘yes’ to that question. 

Dr Madine said teachers have to be happy in their jobs if schools are to improve their results. “Teachers need to feel valued, not just feel as though they’re there to meet targets.” 

Dr George Madine will be speaking about his research at a Westminster Education Forum event entitled Raising Pupil Attainment in the North of England and Midlands on November 7 in Manchester.

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