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Redesigning Schools

Apprentices or Graduates? #ThursdayThunk

I spent Sunday afternoon listening to Justine Greening’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference; I was there on Headteachers’ Roundtable business.  If apprentice routes to employment are a must for a number of our students than should it also be a route for some of our teachers?

Given the total lack of detail about what a teaching apprenticeship might look like it is almost impossible to come to a judgement.  Breaking universities involvement with initial teacher training, now by no longer requiring teachers to have a university degree, seems to be a long term ideological aim of the government.

At least we’re now discussing one of the big issues of our time; where are all the teachers going to come from?  Unfortunately, as so often in education, we don’t bother looking to see whether there is any evidence or practice we should learn from.  There doesn’t seem to be any countries, with a high performing education system, that is happy to effectively outsource the training of its teachers to anyone who fancies having a go.  Whether there is a causal relationship here or just a bit of correlation our current approach already seems a fairly high risk strategy.  Given the multiple routes we already have into teaching maybe, just maybe, another route is not the answer to the growing teacher shortage; more prevalent at secondary level, in certain subjects and in certain areas.

If we can’t recruit our way of this looming crisis then retention offers us as much hope as anything; our profligate approach to retaining teachers, particularly in their early years, is a national scandal that requires a national solution.  Loan forgiveness schemes, about to be trialed with science and modern foreign language teachers, is a start and bursaries given for people staying in schools rather than training bursaries is worth trying.  My guts tell me that if teachers want more money, particularly scientists and linguists, they are likely to jump ship into the private sector.  So, if money alone won’t do it what should we try?

Never again must any government impose on the profession so much concurrent, poorly planned curriculum change in such a short period of time; this has massively increased workload.  Trust we must; the accountability system needs a radical overhaul, no more tinkering and trying to make the current system better.  School leaders must step up to the plate also and ask “is this latest edict really required?  Have I any evidence that it will improve pupils’ life chances?  What can we abandon so staff have time for this new initiative?” 

And somehow, in one of the most inflexible jobs I know,  we need to think about how we can increase flexible working; it’s what many people crave but we struggle to deliver.  On this last point, the government has started to make some enquiries.  Geoff Barton has been asked to co-chair a summit with RSC Vicky Beer on flexible working. If this is a special area of interest for you, and you have examples of practice in your own institution, please email Geoff at flexible-working@ascl.org.uk

 

#ThursdayThunk is based on something I’ve been thinking about, discussing, working on or has been topical that week.  The thunk is designed to be bite sized and will deliberately be kept short.  It will take one small issue or an aspect of something much bigger.  The intention is for it to be read in two/three minutes as you’re busy running around at the end of the week or relaxing on your day off.

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