As we end the old or maybe start the new term, in a staggered and ad hoc kind of way, I thought I’d offer a few do’s and don’ts to the Department for Education. The ideas are random and aimed at being helpful. Feel free to add yours in the comments at the bottom.
Do Increase the Number of INSET Days
Given the colossal amount of curriculum change, which would probably be unhelpful to cancel at this stage, allow primary and secondary schools an additional six INSET planning days over the next two years. That’s roughly one a term and would help teachers massively in understanding and planning for the changes and their implementation. A bit of a nuisance for parents but much better lessons for pupils.
Do Cancel the Teacher Assessments for Writing
The process of assessing pupil’s writing at the end of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 is a workload nightmare; time to cancel the whole thing and come back next year with some more sensible ideas. This year teachers should just report to parents on what their child does well and what s/he should focus on in order to improve her/his writing. Otherwise, for some teachers it may sadly be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Do Bring in Fairer Funding In the Long Term
Not surprisingly I support Fairer Funding; we are likely to be significant beneficiaries. I have a great deal of sympathy for colleagues who have been underfunded for decades but also for the colleagues who are just about to lose more funding; in some cases significant sums. This will be on top of the increase costs all schools are facing at a time of cash flat budgets. Introduce Fairer Funding over the next decade so schools have plenty of time to adjust; more money coming into the system will also aid the process.
Do Increase Starting Pay for Teachers by 10-20%
I think this year’s STRB Report has gone walkabout; before it’s published there’s hopefully just enough time to insert a significant increase in starting pay for teachers. New recruits to the profession are entering with huge university debts and we’re competing against an increasing number of graduate opportunities. See the first two don’ts for how this will be paid for.
Don’t Give Bursaries for Training
Possibly a controversial one as there are some benefits to this. However, the scale of some bursaries (£30,000 tax free) is dwarfing teachers starting salary and the bursary tourist, who has no intention of teaching, but has a very well paid gap year is not who we should be spending limited cash on. Use the funds to increase schools’ budgets instead.
Don’t Force Schools to Academise
This will be a lot of time, money and angst wasted by busy teachers and school leaders who have better things to do. Let’s do the better things on behalf of our pupils. Use the funds to increase schools’ budgets instead.
Don’t Send Teachers Away
The teacher recruitment and retention issues aren’t going to go away anytime soon. Telling a whole load of non-European teachers, who don’t yet earn £35,000+, that they can’t teach in our schools isn’t a great idea.
Don’t Inspect Good Schools
As a point of principle I attempt to include this in every post I write; time to move from universal inspection of all schools to desktop checks against agreed published standards and more targeted inspection of a few schools who are in need of help, support or intervention.