A much-anticipated review over whether the age of a teacher affects their performance in the classroom has revealed that there is ‘no noticeable effect’.
That’s the finding from a new report from the Department for Education entitled, ‘Teachers working longer review’, which looked at the impact of changing the pension age and a teacher’s ability for performing well in the classroom.
However, the report makes clear that school staff need clearer guidance and more support for helping a more age diverse workforce.
The report writers make clear that while older teachers have growing physical limitations and lower energy levels, their key cognitive skills necessary for teaching do not significantly deteriorate before they reach the age of 70.
In addition, the report notes that the current workload pressures on teaching can make the profession more difficult for older teachers.
‘Age is not a barrier to a teacher’s ability’
The report states: “Evidence shows clearly that age is not a barrier to a teacher’s ability in providing effective outcomes for young people and children.”
The report goes on to say that the cognitive abilities necessary for teaching do not diminish until an individual is into their 70s and there’s no negative link between education outcomes and the age of the teacher.
The report adds: “A good teacher is a good teacher, irrespective of their age.”
Researchers also found that there’s evidence that points to older teachers adding to the overall teaching environment through their experiences, knowledge and perspectives that their students and pupils can draw upon.
The report highlights that older teachers should be recognised as a crucial part of the teaching workforce, not just for their experience in the profession, but also for becoming a mentor.
Duty of treating everyone in their workforce equally
For this to happen, school managers and leaders must create a culture that appreciates their duty of treating everyone in their workforce equally, irrespective of how old they may be.
The report says this support varies ‘significantly’ and more help is needed for supporting a more age diverse workforce for school managers.
Now, the report says, there should be greater recognition of older teachers as they become an increasingly important part of the teaching workforce with effective and consistent support for their mental, physical and emotional needs.
The researchers say that as part of managing an ageing diverse workforce, there should be training and guidance packages available to managers and also attention given to the needs to support flexible career planning and working arrangements which should be ‘seen as normal’.
The DfE’s report also highlights that the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) should improve the way it communicates with managers and teachers and boost its online services.
One reason for this, the report states, is that many managers and teachers do not understand TPS provisions, particularly when relating to phased retirement or ill health.
Also, the report states, there is confusion over a teacher’s own retirement age in some circumstances.
The full report ‘teachers working longer review’ can found on the Department for Education website.