Teachers say extra pay and free periods would help correct imbalance. 

Experienced teachers are more effective than those who are in the first few years of their careers and teachers in the most advantaged fifth of schools have an average of nearly one and a half years more experience than those in the least advantaged, according to initial findings from a research project by the University of Cambridge, which will be presented to a Sutton Trust conference in London today.

The research will be presented to delegates at Best in Class, a major international summit organised by the Sutton Trust in partnership with Carnegie Corporation of New York, that will bring together leading policymakers, academics and the teaching profession to discuss how best to improve social mobility through schools.

New polling for the Trust also published today shows significant teacher support for financial incentives for improved results, and better pay and bonuses for teachers in deprived schools.

The research by Dr Sonia Ilie, Dr John Jerrim, and Prof Anna Vignoles, looked at a sample of 2,500 teachers in England across academies and maintained and independent schools from the OECD’s TALIS survey to establish what the characteristics of effective teachers are and how these characteristics are distributed across schools.

Teachers in less advantaged schools reported a number of factors that contribute to less effective teaching: only 80% of teachers in the least advantaged fifth of schools said their pupils were well-behaved compared with 96% in the most advantaged fifth. They also reported spending less time teaching and more time on classroom management.

The new polling commissioned for today’s summit from the National Foundation for Educational Research through the Teacher Voice Omnibus, finds that teachers think financial incentives are the most important thing the government can do to attract the best teachers to teach in deprived schools. From a sample of 1,430 teachers, 35% thought increased pay or bonuses could encourage more teachers to teach in challenging schools, while 33% said more free periods.

Teachers also thought financial incentives are the best way to reward teachers who improve the results of their students, with 63% supporting additional cash. But teachers were fairly split on what form that reward should take with 23% supporting team bonuses for schools – the most popular of the three options – followed by 21% backing a one off cash bonus and 15% in favour of a straightforward pay rise. Almost a third (29%) said there shouldn’t be any extra reward for improving results.

Nick Gibb MP, the schools minister, and Andreas Schleicher, Director of Education at the OECD, will give the keynote addresses at today’s summit, with other speakers including Head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw  and leading educationists from the UK, US and Singapore. Together the speakers will consider how disadvantaged pupils should have fair access to the best schools and the best teachers, and how those teachers should be developed.

Previous research by the Sutton Trust found that the effects of good teaching are especially significant for pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds: over a school year, these pupils gain 1.5 years’ worth of learning with very effective teachers, compared to 0.5 years with poorly performing teachers.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chairman of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation, said today:

“We know that good teaching is the most important factor in raising the achievement of all pupils but particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.  Today’s research shows that teachers in more advantaged schools are likely to be more experienced, which generally leads to more effective teaching.

“In order to improve the performance of disadvantaged pupils it is vital that theses pupils have access to the best teaching. Today’s new polling finds that teachers think financial incentives are the most effective way to attract the best teachers to teach in the most challenging schools.”

Anna Vignoles, Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge said today:

“Teachers are the heart of an effective education system.  There are real challenges around recruitment, retention and improving teachers’ satisfaction with their jobs, particularly in our most disadvantaged schools.”


  1. The Sutton Trustis a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 170 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. Carnegie Corporation of New York, which Andrew Carnegie established in 1911 “to promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding,” is one of the oldest and most influential of American grantmaking foundations. The Corporation has devoted unremitting effort toward the two issues Andrew Carnegie considered of paramount importance: international peace and the advancement of education and knowledge.
  3. The study makes use of The Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) 2013, which is an OECD-led investigation into the characteristics, attitudes, and practices of secondary teachers in over 30 OECD and partner countries. In England, the TALIS 2013 survey was carried out with approximately 2500 teachers in over 150 schools. The sample included similar numbers of maintained schools and academies, and a small number of independent institutions. In England, the TALIS survey is also bolstered by the addition of matched administrative contextual data, which allows for the exploration of issues such as school quality (as rated by Ofsted), and school-level attainment at key stages 2 and 4.
  4. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) surveyed a representative sample of 1,430 teachers in June 2015, in both primary and secondary schools, for their Teacher Voice Omnibus survey.

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