From The Times
Newspaper:

**The over-55s keeping
classrooms going amid a teaching crisis**

Richard Lewis will be 70 on Tuesday. A former City banker, he plans to ride a motorbike until he is 80 — and be a teacher for as long. He is one of a growing number of over-55s propping up classrooms all over England amid a teacher shortage crisis. It is the only age group in which teacher training recruits have increased over the past year.

Despite rising during the pandemic, the number of teachers being recruited has plummeted in the past year. A total of 28,991 teachers were recruited in 2023, down from 36,159 in 2022, according to the Department for Education. Secondary school postgraduate recruitment is 41 per cent below target.

One factor being
blamed for the collapse in new trainees coming forward and the high rate of new
teachers quitting is what is being called the work-from-home factor. Younger
people are shying away from a job in Britain that is still five days a week “in
the office”.

**Questions:**

Q1) Critique the
first graph. What is good about it? What is bad about it?

Q2) How many
years are included in each of the age bands (apart from the first and last)?

Q3) What is the
percentage change from 2021/22 to 2022/23 for each age band?

Q4) What is the
percentage change from 2019/20 to 2022/23 for each age band?

Q5) What
percentage of the people in 2022/23 are in each age band?

Q6) The headline
reads: “The over-55s keeping classrooms going amid a teaching crisis”. Use data/calculations to justify the
headline.

Q7) Use
data/calculations to help you to write (and justify) a completely different
headline.

Q8) What do you
think of the headline that was actually used in the newspaper?

Q9) In the
second graph, explain what happened in 2021/22.
What do the three points mean?

Q10) Tell the
‘story’ of the secondary line in the second graph.

Q11) The article
states: “Secondary […] is 41 per cent below target.” Where can this be seen on the graph?

Q12) Why isn’t
the ‘total’ dot exactly halfway between the primary one and the secondary
one?

Q13) Using
2022/23, work out the ratio of primary trainee teachers to secondary trainee
teachers.

*A1) Critique the
first graph. What is good about it? What is bad about it?*

The most
unusual/surprising thing is that it goes from right to left! The most recent year is on the left. Does that change students’ perceptions of
what is happening?

Is it clear that
this shows those who have joined initial teacher training courses, and isn’t
the number of new teachers that there are each year?

The age groups
are all the same size, except for the first and the last ones. Generally, people start a teacher training
course after completing a degree, so it would be rare to be under the age of
21, making the bottom group 21 – 24 rather than 20 – 24. The oldest group covers more than 5 years.

Is the recent
year shown in orange to highlight it, or because it is below what it should be?

Would it be
useful to have a total at the bottom of each column?

The final ‘bar’
for each year is actually a bar (and not a header/footer). The numbers appear on it for aesthetic
reasons.

The bars are
useful: they make it easy to see how things are changing (both going up the
ages, and across the years).

The years are
academic years.

*A2) How many
years are included in each of the age bands (apart from the first and last)?*

“25 – 29 years”
consists of 5 years. The way we use ages
is that someone is 29 until the day they turn 30. We don’t round off as we usually do. This, then includes everyone who is aged 25,
26, 27, 28 and 29, which is clearly 5 year groups.

*A3) What is the
percentage change from 2021/22 to 2022/23 for each age band?*

(I have put the
two columns in the sensible order, unlike in the article!)

*A4) What is the
percentage change from 2019/20 to 2022/23 for each age band?*

*A5) What percentage of the people in 2022/23 are in each age band?*

*A6) The headline
reads: “The over-55s keeping classrooms going amid a teaching crisis”. Use data/calculations to justify the headline.*

Here’s a
possible answer:

“If you look at
the percentage change from 2021/22 to 2022/23 (the answer to Q3) you can see
that every age group saw a percentage decrease, except one. The percentage decrease was between 15% and
27% (which is more than a quarter). The
only group not to see a decrease was the group aged 55 and over, which
increased by nearly 4%.”

*A7) Use
data/calculations to help you to write (and justify) a completely different
headline.*

There are lots
of different possibilities. Here are a couple of ideas:

·
Number
of new teaching recruits falls by a fifth.
(The total from 2021/22 to 2022/23 fell by 19.8%, which is roughly 20%,
which is a fifth.)

·
The under-25s
keeping classrooms going amid a teaching crisis. (Compared to 2019/20, which
means they signed up before the pandemic started, the number of new recruits in
every age group has fallen. The lowest
fall was in the under-25s, which is a good thing, because the vast majority of
new teachers are younger than 25. In
2022/23 over 3/5 of the new teachers fell into this group.)

*A8) What do you
think of the headline that was actually used in the newspaper?*

Rubbish!

The number of
over-55s training to teach is 160, which is 0.6% of the total. This is a hundredth of the under-25s. The increase from the previous year is indeed
3.9%, but that’s an increase of only 6 people.

*A9) In the
second graph, explain what happened in 2021/22.
What do the three points mean?*

The yellow dot
for 2021/22 shows that primary recruited ~132% of their target, so they got 32%
above the number required.

The light-blue
dot for 2021/22 shows that secondary recruited ~78% of their target, so they
got 22% below the number required.

The dark-blue
dot for 2021/22 shows that overall recruitment (primary and secondary together)
was ~96% of their target, which is 4% below the number required.

*A10) Tell the
‘story’ of the secondary line in the second graph.*

From 2015
onwards it is more or less the same percentage of the target (just over 80%),
until 2020/21, which was during the pandemic.
Then it increased to just over 100% of target for a year, before
dropping back down to the usual level in 2021/22 and massively below that in
2022/23.

(Maybe other
jobs weren’t hiring during the pandemic, so more people decided to train to be
a teacher.)

*A11) The article
states: “Secondary […] is 41 per cent below target.” Where can this be seen on the graph?*

The light-blue
dot for 2022/23 is at 59%, which is 41% below 100%.

*A12) Why isn’t
the ‘total’ dot exactly halfway between the primary one and the secondary
one? *

This would only
be the case if there were equal numbers of primary and secondary teachers. The total line is always closer to the
secondary one, indicating there must be more secondary teachers than primary. (Primary teacher training courses generally
cover Early Years (the year before Year 1) and then Years 1 to 6, which is 7
year-groups, while secondary courses generally go from Year 7 to Year 13, which
is also 7 year-groups, does this mean that average class sizes in secondary
schools are smaller? Or that secondary
teachers are more likely to leave teaching so more new teachers are required to
replace them? Or … ?)

*A13) Using
2022/23, work out the ratio of primary trainee teachers to secondary trainee
teachers.*

From the graph,
the figures appear to be:

Secondary 59%

Primary 94%

Total 72%

If the ratio of
primary to secondary is 1 : n, where n is more than 1, we have (94+59n)/(1+n) =
72

Rearrange to get
94 + 59n = 72 + 72n

Solving this
gives 22 = 13n, so n = 1.69

The ratio is
therefore 1 : 1.69