My attention was recently drawn to the DfE’s vacancies website by Stuart Locke who was outraged by the cost of advertising vacancies. The DfE website was created with the goal of saving schools money and making it easier for jobseekers to find roles in schools.
What is the purpose of the site?
DfE analysis estimated that the education system spends around £75 million each year advertising vacancies. There’s no link to the original research, which makes me sceptical, but this works out at about £3,000 per school every year which seems plausible.
The second aim is to improve the experience for job seekers by creating a single central record. Such systems exist in other sectors, including the NHS. This would save teachers time and lead to a healthier labour market.
A bonus of creating a single central record is that it would open some useful, low-cost research opportunities to better understand the education labour market.
How is it being used?
The data on the portal is not available to download, but it is possible to scrape it, which I did using rvest. This works well for most of the data, but it is not always possible to match the data with other records, but this only happened in about five percent of cases. This mainly happens when a role is advertised at the trust, rather than school level.
There are around 1,600 roles currently advertised on the site. Note that this includes teaching and non-teaching roles in schools.
I looked at the 25 largest trusts to see how the number of adverts on the DfE’s website compares to the number advertised on each trust’s own site, which I examined manually. I have three takeaways from the graph below.
- There are lots of adverts missing from the DfE’s single central record.
- There is a lot of variation between trusts – well done to Leigh Academies Trust.
- Adding these missing roles would nearly double the DfE’s single central record.
Trusts should lead the way
The largest trusts are major employers, which is why I think they should lead the way in creating a single central record of vacancies. Given the number of vacancies that large trusts advertise, they can help to rapidly expand the DfE site so that it becomes the go to place for employers and employees alike.
A single central record of vacancies won’t fix everything, but it is a practical, easy step to create a better education system.