THE NEW ADMISSIONS CODE

SHOULD THE CHILDREN OF SCHOOL STAFF BE GIVEN ADMISSIONS PRIORITY?
WON’T IT MAKE THE LABOUR MARKET LESS EFFICIENT?
Comment
Rebecca Allen and Simon Burghes of the Centre for Market and Public Organisation raise an important question on their blog regarding whether or not teachers and other school staff should be given priority when it comes to admissions to schools where they are employed. The admissions code is currently under review following consultation. Paragraph 1.33 of the code says: “If admissions authorities decide to give priority to children of staff, they must set out clearly in their admission arrangements how they will define staff and on what basis children will be prioritised.” This, Allen points out, suggests that admissions authorities are to be allowed to prioritise the children of staff, reversing the policy of recent Admissions Codes. On the face of it one has some sympathy for teachers wanting their children to be in the school where they teach. It makes their lives much easier for one and allows them to keep a close eye on their child’s education. One group very likely to be included in most definitions of “staff” are teachers. For those teachers with children, this will add a new aspect to their decision on which school to seek a job at. Like many other parents, teachers will be keen for their children to attend high-performing schools. Following the White Paper “The Importance of Teaching”, one of the leading education policy issues is how to attract  particularly effective teachers into the more challenging schools. Research evidence does not tell us whether teachers who are parents are on average more effective teachers, but there are two points to make:
This policy change will differentially increase the flow of applicants to high-performing schools. If the Headteachers of those schools are skilled at spotting effective teachers, then simply having access to a much bigger applicant pool will raise the average effectiveness of teachers  hired at those schools. They are less likely to be novices, which is one of the few clear findings on teacher effectiveness, so in that sense alone teachers who are parents are likely to be more effective. Given that, claim Allen and Burghes, this policy change is very likely to work against any efforts to attract effective teachers to challenging schools, and thus set back the Government’s stated educational policy goals of narrowing the outcome gap between affluent and disadvantaged pupils. The proposed code change could also complicate disciplinary procedures because firing a teacher from a school would also have implications for her/his children. This is likely to make it even less likely that headteachers will engage in robust performance management. They write ‘We know that any work-based privileges that are specific to particular establishments tend to cement people in that job and reduce turnover. Such privileges include health insurance, pension rights, and so on. This reduces labour mobility and typically will make the labour market less efficient. This proposed change will have the same effect in the teacher labour market as teachers will be less willing to move as it will disrupt their children’s education.’ They make a compelling argument but if you are a  parent and teacher you might not share their view.

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