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Autonomous schools and the teacher labour market: Evidence from academies

Researchers: Professor Victor Lavy | Professor Shqiponja Telhaj ...

Project overview


This project will study the effects of academies’ expansion in the English school system on the teacher labour market, focusing on teacher retention, turnover and salaries in converted schools. It will also analyse potential effects on community schools.
Academies have substantial autonomy in terms of curriculum, teaching workload, teacher hiring and pay. They now represent more than 60% of English secondary schools. As autonomous schools expand across many countries, it is crucial to identify how they affect the teacher labour market. Previous research shows the importance of teachers for student achievement, and teacher turnover is particularly harmful in the most disadvantaged schools. Academies may use their autonomy over personnel management to attract and retain high-quality teachers, or may use it to increase teaching workload, discouraging teachers from joining or staying at academies. This project will identify the casual effect of academies’ expansion on teacher retention, turnover and salaries, and potential spillover effects on community schools.

The research will use the School Workforce Census linked with the Database of Teacher Records, examining data from the year 2000 onwards. The first stage will analyse the effect of post-2010 secondary school academies by comparing changes in teachers’ characteristics before and after academy conversion in schools that converted by 2012-13 to schools that converted later.

The researchers will also examine the impact on salaries of teachers who were already employed at the school before conversion to understand whether academies use their autonomy to offer higher salaries to all teaching personnel, or to attract more highly qualified teachers who command higher wages. The researchers will then explore the effect of these academy conversions on retention of these teachers. This analysis will be repeated for pre-2010 secondary school academies and post-2010 primary school academies.

The second stage of the research will analyse the effects of academies’ expansion on community schools. It will compare the evolution of teachers’ salaries in community schools located close to at least one academy to community schools that do not yet have an academy nearby. The researchers will explore whether effects differ across educational phases, subjects or teacher gender, and differ by the amount of autonomy gained relative to the predecessor school.

This research will provide evidence on the effects of school autonomy on teacher pay and teacher turnover, with the aim to inform schools on effective practices to attract and retain high-quality teachers. The findings from this study will be presented at seminars, conferences and a workshop for policymakers and practitioners, as well as in an academic journal article, policy briefs and a publicly available report.

Team


  • Professor Victor Lavy
    University of Warwick
  • Professor Shqiponja Telhaj
    University of Sussex
  • Dr Emma Duchini
    University of Warwick
  • Professor Stephen Machin
    London School of Economics

  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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