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What changes to teaching would make the job more bearable?

(78 Posts)
SarfEasticated Tue 23-Dec-14 21:02:28

I am studying for a degree in Education Studies, with a view to working with children once I've finished in 2 yrs time. I have been reading the threads in here about the terrible workloads teachers have and I would be interested to know what education policy changes you would like to see made after the next general election. Which party offers the most hope for teachers? and When do you think was the golden age for teaching?
Can you see any light at the end of the tunnel?

echt Wed 24-Dec-14 02:11:02

I haven't taught in the UK for more than 8 years, and read the threads both here and on the TES site with my jaw dropping.

Leaving aside the controlling aspect of every government and the ease with which education becomes a political foot ball, there is the question of what you would let go of. It all sounds so sensible on the surface: who wouldn't want to know how a child is progressing? sounds fine, but then becomes progress must be shown every lesson/20 minutes.

I teach in Australia and my record of work is an account of what happened, and no, it does not have to be minutely details. No-one has ever asked to see it. I am expected to use data to inform my teaching, but not held to account for some bizarre predicted grade that fails to have any relevance to a child's real ability. If snotty Johnny is idle and underachieves, then this is accepted when he stuffs up.

Happy36 Fri 26-Dec-14 13:23:12

It's really a question of time. In my own school if we had someone to do cover and duties during breaktimes that would make life easier. Also if we had more secretarial manpower then as tutors there would be less admin which is really time consuming. So by spending money on more staff, we'd all have more time. I teach English in a department of 9 and never have an opportunity to all meet together...it would be wonderful to see this kind of meeting (which in my view is essential) built into our timetables.

Orangeanddemons Fri 26-Dec-14 13:25:59

Remove accountability, appraisal and observations

EmbarrassedPossessed Fri 26-Dec-14 13:53:58

Reduce class sizes to 15 students maximum in primary and secondary schools.

Get rid of the current "performance" related pay process and instead have an appraisal system that looks at actual performance over the previous year, not whether or not 3 or 4 fairly random objectives have been met.

Have more admin staff in schools.

Remove any expectation that lessons must follow a specific format in order to be considered good or outstanding.

There are probably lots of other things but that's what comes to mind initially.

Happy36 Fri 26-Dec-14 15:10:04

Agree about class sizes!

Seriouslyffs Fri 26-Dec-14 15:18:31

Yep, class sizes. Teaching a class of 10-15 is immeasurably easier. And workbooks. Particularly in primary school a lot of time is wasted handing out textbooks, making worksheets, writing on the board, directing the children to write the date and title in their exercise book etc. whereas with workbooks you can present the material then direct the children to the appropriate page and set them off.

stargirl1701 Fri 26-Dec-14 15:36:41

I'm in Scotland which isn't quite the pressure cooker I read about in England.

Lower class sizes.
Properly funded inclusion.
Masters level profession.
Forest school/Beach school/Outdoor learning experience in every school.
Nurture base in every school.
PE/Music/Art/Drama specialist in every primary school.

I feel we are now parenting rather than educating children. Every ill in society seems to be our job to sort out. Obesity crisis, check, Poor dental health, check, Poor nutrition, check...it seems endless.

CeeloWeevil Fri 26-Dec-14 15:42:11

I think more prep / admin time is essential, and yes to smaller class sizes.

DriftingOff Fri 26-Dec-14 15:52:43

Lack of TIME is the problem. If I had TIME to do the job to the standard I want to do it to, it'd be great.

For every new extra bit of paperwork that needs doing, there needs to be an equal increase in the amount of non-contact time. At the moment, I reckon a half timetable would do the trick. Obviously this would be hugely expensive, so it'll never happen, and to be fair, many teachers don't want less contact time, since that's the bit they enjoy, and the reason they came into teaching. Most teachers just want less of "all the other stuff" (paperwork/observations/tracking/reports...).

So overall, I'd say less paperwork - no more writing paragraphs for each pupil when marking (unless class sizes are reduced), no more writing out lesson plans for experienced teachers - experienced teachers know their lesson plans like the back of their own hand, no more lengthy paperwork to prove whether every SEN child has been catered for - a good teacher will know, almost instinctively what certain children need. An OfSted inspector can just talk to the teacher and the child(ren) on the inspection day to get an accurate picture of whether the teacher has been catering for particular children correctly. Most meetings are a waste of time as well - if they're that important, then timetable extra time for it, or don't have them. Move all data analysis/tracking etc. onto non-teaching staff. If this kind of thing HAS to be done by a teacher, then it needs to be given to a head of faculty or deputy head who have more non-contact time.

usefully Fri 26-Dec-14 16:02:10

I love it but I have:

Classes of 20 or under
Minimal planning and marking
Great management back up
Good standards of behaviour expected throughout the school
Parental support of the teaching staff
A flexible and relevant curriculum
Complete freedom in how I teach the objectives.

CharlesRyder Fri 26-Dec-14 16:04:18

I think most ills in Primary would be ameliorated by halving the class sizes. I know children don't necessarily learn better in smaller classes- it wouldn't be for that reason. It would dramatically cut teacher workload.

If every class of 15 had ft cover from a teacher and a TA it would be SO much easier to get everything done. It would also be possible to double classes up for some things hence releasing staff for more admin time. Easy to double up to 30 with one adult in charge, less easy to double up to 60.

FabulousFudge Sat 27-Dec-14 01:26:18

My top 3:

Full time TA in every class
Sacrosanct PPA time
Government to stop changing curriculum, assessments etc every 5 mins!

rollonthesummer Sat 27-Dec-14 23:01:10

--Smaller class sizes
--Scrap PMR-it's purely a tool to restrict teachers' pay
--Government/Ofsted/God to implement a useful and workable marking scheme that doesn't involve pink or green highlighters/next steps/targets or necessitate children replying to what I write. They are 5. They can't read it. They don't care.
--Evidence-just because the management aren't observing us/asking the children what they think of us/checking our marking etc etc, it doesn't mean we aren't working. I resent having to justify everything I do. It takes hours and doesn't benefit my class.

SarfEasticated Sun 28-Dec-14 08:50:13

Thanks everyone, it sounds like you work under impossible time pressure. Do any of the political parties sound like they are offering a solution?
Have any of them come up with a way do decrease class sizes? I know that the introduction of TAs was meant to solve the problem, by making one adult to 15 children. Would making TA a higher qualified and better paid position help at all?
Usefully how have you managed to secure the dream job? do you work in a private school or a small village school?
stargirl when you ask for it to be a Masters profession, is that for secondary and primary?
As we now live in a world of league tables and parental choice, how would you all suggest schools are graded so parent's can chose easily. (I know parental choice is an illusion as all schools go by catchment area)
Do you ever see any of this changing for the better?

Hulababy Sun 28-Dec-14 08:58:24

Cut the curriculum and let teachers be more in charge of what they teach. I work in y2 and the amount of stuff we are expected to get through in the year is huge and far greater than I've ever known it.
English, Maths, reading and phonics take up pretty much every morning which then only leaves you with about 10 hours a week to do everything else on the curriculum - and as in that you have to have x number of assemblies and two lots of pe seriously restricts what you do.

And in primary - no SATs or external testing. It does the children no favours at all.

And performance related pay for teachers is ridiculous. There are far better ways to ensure children make profess than linking it to teachers pay.

SarfEasticated Sun 28-Dec-14 09:33:49

A lot of the recent changes do seem so mean-spirited though don't they and based on a non-trust of teachers. It's almost as if someone in the government has decided that no-one likes teachers because of their holidays, and no-one understands phonics etc, so they have taken that tiny grain of mistrust and blown it up into a huge system where teachers have to be tested and measured at every stage.

rollonthesummer Sun 28-Dec-14 10:46:20

There is definitely a culture of mistrust. It's horrible.

To those who suggested having LSAs paid higher-I don't think that would happen-they'd never find the money- and don't think that would help. LSA jobs are like gold dust because of the hours. There is no shortage of good applicants for each vacancy. They are brill and help loads, but the buck still stops with the teacher-it's their pay/job on the line if the children don't progress and that is the stressful bit.

Workload outside of the classroom needs to be reduced, but it's increasing. Less in-depth marking, assessment, target setting and planning. That would stop me quitting the profession. I don't think it will happen though sad

JennyBlueWren Sun 28-Dec-14 20:28:34

Personally I would like a high fence around my nursery garden so we could have a lovely outdoor environment without everything being destroyed or used to smash the windows sad

More generally though:

Smaller class sizes.
TA allocated 1-1 for all children who have support needs (or even one between two).
Back up/support from management and parents -more than "they have a difficult home life/have you tried a sticker chart?"
Working technology -including computer, internet, printer and photocopier. Working! IT support in the school.
I would like for our school to have an admin staff who do photocopying/filing/put away reading books etc.

rollonthesummer Sun 28-Dec-14 21:09:49

I would like for our school to have an admin staff who do photocopying/filing/put away reading books etc.

This is an important factor which is often overlooked. Our TAs are deemed too important by SMT to file work, photocopy, stick in work or sharpen pencils; they have to be working with the children at all times.

These things still have to be done though, and if they cannot be done by TAs during the day and can't be done by teachers during the day-they have to be done at 7.30am or 5/6pm by teachers after they've done everything else.

stargirl1701 Mon 29-Dec-14 05:10:46

Yes, both. I am in primary. The chartered teacher programme was a great idea but has now been scrapped. It needs to be replaced with something else.

SarfEasticated Mon 29-Dec-14 08:46:18

I would like for our school to have an admin staff who do photocopying/filing/put away reading books etc.
It seems silly that you don't have help with this kind of thing, surely it will then free you up to do the real job of teaching?
So are any of the political parties promising change?

funchum8am Mon 29-Dec-14 08:57:18

Labour talk a bit about change but judging by their time in office they don't really get it - many of the reforms that made our workload spiral were introduced by them.

I could do my job really well if I taught half a timetable instead of 23/30 periods plus two more periods on duty and in meetings (head of faculty) and if my teaching team were on 24/30 rather than 26.

More admin staff would be great, plus less expectation that every child will receive fully personalised learning experiences every lesson in classes of 25+, especially for subjects where I only see them once a week!

rollonthesummer Mon 29-Dec-14 11:32:40

I don't see any of the political parties offering to improve the situation at all; it's all about introducing more free schools and offering anyone who agrees to opt out freedom and autonomy and saying they don't have to follow the national curriculum. I really don't understand who that is meant to help?! Why have a national curriculum if half the schools don't have to follow it.

If I'm wrong, please someone point me in the right direction of where to look!

noblegiraffe Mon 29-Dec-14 12:24:12

I read a blog yesterday saying the easiest way to reduce teacher workload while improving standards would be to scrap the teaching grade on Ofsted inspections. So much stuff is done by teachers simply to show that they are good teachers like masses of dialogue in books, detailed planning, tonnes of written evidence, instead of simply allowing them the time and headspace to think about and do things that actually improve their teaching instead.

If Ofsted want to know if the teaching is good, they can look at results, talk to the kids, survey the parents. You can't be a crap teacher with great results, the respect of the kids and the support of the parents. You can be a crap teacher and get an outstanding lesson observation from Ofsted.

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