What could be done to stop the teacher recruitment and retention crisis?(102 Posts)
The situation in teaching is absolutely dire and parents would be up in arms if they knew the true extent of the effect it was having on their children's education.
So what can actually be done about it? There is an issue with workload because while some is pointless, some actually does benefit the kids. e.g. In maths, the new GCSE has 3 papers instead of 2. My school also introduced a second mock in March as well as November. This has tripled the amount of mock marking compared to previously. In addition, we have to enter each mark for each question for each student by hand onto a spreadsheet which then generates a list of all their strengths and weaknesses. Huge extra workload. But if it was suggested that the second mock and the analysis was binned, there would be a pang of guilt because it is actually useful. Think of the children!
So what can be done?
1) My school should have considered workload before it introduced the second mock. What we didn't have already, wouldn't be missed. If any new initiative is seen to increase workload, then workload has to be decreased elsewhere to compensate. Always. That might focus a few minds on what is really necessary.
2) Ofsted are considering dropping the outstanding rating. This would have a huge impact, but they are being held back by the fact that parents like it. The views of education professionals should outweigh parents in this instance.
3) Scrap any notion that teachers' pay should be linked to individual student results or class results. Unions already advise against it, but Ofsted should ask to see appraisal objectives and any school that has results in there should be not allowed to get higher than requires improvement. Student and class results are too volatile to be used as a positive performance indicator. Cohort results for those with a cohort responsibility I'm not sure about...
4) Cap CEO of academy pay linked to how many schools they are responsible for. School funding should not be lining individual pockets. On top of that, increase base funding for schools so that they have enough money for sufficient TAs, support staff and so on.
5) Way more funding for SEN. Open more special schools, review the EHCP process, better training for teachers and so on (there are people way more knowledgeable than me with ideas about this).
6) Behaviour - do not make having a poorly behaved class increase the workload of a teacher to an unreasonable degree. Centralised detentions. On-call support that actually turns up. An escalating series of sanctions/intervention that is actually followed, and doesn't involve the class teacher doing anything once the kid fails to turn up to their lunch detention/persists in being a pain/is a pain across the school. This should be verified by Ofsted because otherwise SLT will get away with not doing it.
Any other ideas?
A change of government?
Not a teacher but a vaguely related public sector worker.
I hope next year will be the year the public sector final puts its foot down and the public will realise just how much vital services are being cut. Because the current situation is just ridiculous.
Funding for SEN yes. It’s almost impossible to get an EHCP - the paperwork is vast and (if I was being cynical ) almost as if it was designed to be offputting.
Special schools yes. It needs to be acknowledged that some children cannot cooe in mainstream and at best are not having their needs met, at worst disrupting the learning of others (through no fault of their own). We have to support such a huge range of needs and providing a completely separate curriculum for one child is not manageable.
We are told that Quality First teaching should be the first thing in place. Hmm ok that will make it better, rather than the deliberately crap teaching I’d previously given this child.
Stop changing the curriculum every five minutes. Stop trying to shoehorn so much into the school day, it’s too crowded already!
Stop allowing people who have no knowledge of teaching decide the curriculum.
Stop MATs taking over and paying their senior execs vast sums of money when we are struggling with budgets for books and glue sticks.
Maybe tackle pointless workload tasks too so we have a decent balance.
Maybe with the current crisis people will start to see it’s not 9-3 and 13 weeks off a year? That’s the really galling bit for me- when I’m waking in the night worrying about a child and I read that we are lazy.
Labour's education policies were pretty uninspiring and vague tbh, I didn't get the impression that they'd make much difference at a teacher level. They bang on about pay, but that's not why most teachers quit.
Oh, I forgot a really important one: Take education policy out of the hands of government and give it to an independent body of people who know their arse from their elbow and will still be doing the job in a couple of years' time (see the average life expectancy of an Education Secretary).
Labour's education policies were pretty uninspiring and vague tbh, I didn't get the impression that they'd make much difference at a teacher level.
I’m no Tory voter, but the only thing I remember Labour coming up with was Tristram Hunt’s suggestion of teachers having to renew their ‘teacher license’ every 5 year’s with an MOT.
What a momental waste of time and money that would be! Talk about missing the point
I like all of your suggestions-particularly increasing SEN funding. There is woefully inadequate funding in mainstream schools and nowhere near enough spaces in specialist provisions. If children are excluded-the schools are simply being forced by the LEA to re-admit them as there is nowhere else for them to be.
I think anything that means my performance is not measured solely on results would be a huge improvement. Accountability is important - if students are failing en masse then there is a clear issue, but allowing students to not get 10 A*s really shouldn't be a problem. In my final year before I left for supply, I literally went head to head with another subject teacher in trying to ensure a particular failing student had sufficient intervention. The student was run ragged trying to keep up with the demands of both teachers. She got Ds in both subjects. Had we as professionals been allowed to talk to her, work out which she was more likely to pass and allow her to focus on the stronger subject over the weaker, the chances are she would have failed just one subject instead of both. But Progress 8 and appraisal targets (for me, this one failing student meant I was under performing) meant that we both had to fight - to the detriment of the student.
I like noblegiraffes idea of an independent body overseeing education. It's one of the biggest shocks I had when I came into teaching from industry - just how political it is.
Also, lots more SEN funding, and I include in that, pupils who don't have a specific SEN, but who are SEN because their behaviour is simply unmanageable. There are amazing schools that take on the very disaffected, who can't cope in mainstream, but there just aren't enough of them.
Also, if they want us to do useful stuff that the OP mentions (logging marks for every Q in a mock, for example), then we need more PPA time. The equivalent of a full day (but spread over a week), instead of half a day as it is now.
All of these things would cost a fortune though - it's lack of money that causes a lot of the problems.
Two words. Target Tracker. Since this was introduced into our school it's been the bane of all of our lives! Data in every 6 weeks but the objectives should be updated weekly. Followed by pupil progress meetings, followed by "why is there so much red in your dept?!" Followed by stress upon stress to improve before the next 6 weekly check of data. This in addition to book scrutiny, learning walks, planning checks, class action plans, department action plans, individual student action plans, revised action plans, reviews of action plans....you get the idea!
Ban SLT who read the latest book on "how to teach" and then introduce " whole" school policies which don't take in to consideration the needs of individual subjects. (Or that just my work place?)
Make SLT do a significant amount of time back in the classroom. A friend has recently taken voluntary redundancy - was an Assistant Head, and is now doing a bog-standard teaching job in a core subject on a fixed term contract. She is snowed under with planning and marking. If SLT realised how much time actual teaching takes, then there might be a chance that they would lay off on the extra shit that takes the time.
I left proper teaching last term, so I'm part of the problem. I set up a business and now deliver 6th form Performing Arts in a theatre. I no longer have to go to meetings, fill in half-termly assessment data (and then have the inevitable meetings about why certain students aren't on target) I no longer have to set detentions, I have no hassle with students not doing homework, I don't have book scrutinies or target setting meetings. Essentially, I'm doing the bits of the job that mean something to the students. And guess what - no one is failing for want of a book scrutiny or flight path. It comes down to trust. I am doing just as good a job with these students as I did when I taught the same course in a school but now, no one feels the need to check up on me 88,00000 times a week. No one is making me spend time proving that I'm doing the job, which gives me more time to do the job.
I think the answer is to trust teachers more and support them where it's needed. The big change came with the introduction of league tables and parental choice IMO. Get rid of the league tables and send kids to the closest school. Get rid of OFSTED gradings completely. Schools are chasing their tails these days. In the school I was in, we used to spend so much time focusing on getting yr 11 kids to their targets that every other year group was neglected, which meant that it was never fixed.
The whole system is a mess.
Taking education policy out of the hands of politicians was actually a Lib Dem policy at the last election. Out of the main parties, their education policies were the best by miles, they looked like they'd actually asked teachers and people in education what should happen. Shame no one voted for them.
Imagine what could happen if education was planned around a long-term vision that didn't end at the end of the election cycle. The whole outrageous mess caused by Gove rushing in the new GCSEs and A-levels was entirely down to there being a General Election in 2015 and he wanted it implemented by then in case the Tories lost.
Just a simple thing but massively more PPA time. Most countries have much much less contact time.
Agreed re behaviour and SEN resources and funding.
Not making teaching a political football would probably have most affect.
My DH had more management training when he was an assistant manager in a Currys, earning £16,000 a year, than the average 'school manager' has ever had.
It's quite simple, most school managers - at all levels - are absolutely shit at managing people. They manage the people who report to them the same way that they manage the classroom - with a 'don't argue, just do as I say' attitude. Lip-service is paid to 360 degree feedback, but most management is extremely directive. There is far too little useful dialogue between managers and teachers about what works and doesn't work in the job.
In many ways it's not the fault of the managers. The value placed on 'people management' as a skill in schools is negligible. This is why so many schools end up with employment practices which are discriminatory and illegal.
Oh how could I forget more PPA time? That would have a huge impact. Loads of teachers are going part time just so that they can have (unpaid) time in the working day when they're not teaching to do all the other stuff.
It's weird that so many teachers have been sent on exchanges to Shanghai to learn how they teach maths, but the government has paid no attention to the fact that they only teach 2 lessons a day.
Well quite. But then government initiatives are bloody brilliant at ignoring the bleeding obvious.
Families are means tested when enrolling children in state school and are charged on a sliding scale from £0 to full cost depending on their income level. This money is then used to hire more teachers to reduce in classroom stress/to pay teachers more to attract more able individuals to the profession. This redistribution should occur at a national level to not disproportionately favour schools in wealthy areas.
I absolutely agree with taking education or of the hands of politicians. The countries who perform the best in the international rankings are the ones who have long term policies, so if a new exam system is coming in there have been textbooks and sample exam materials available for years before the first official exam.
And more PPA time. I wouldn't even mind a longer teaching day if more of it was PPA time. So working from 8:30 - 5 but only actually teaching for 3 hours and planning/marking/discussing best practice with colleagues for the rest of the day. I could get so much more done and my classes would get a much better service because I wouldn't be exhausted.
Improve access to get back INTO the profession for those wanting to return (after career breaks to have children etc) - also those who can tend to get a bit stuck on supply (when it's harder to have consistent references etc) - bit of a pet one of mine as I'm an ex supply (took a long break from full-time to let my mental health recover) who then stopped working when the kids came along, but trying to get to anywhere approaching an employable footing when coming out of that situation feels insurmountable at times - I'm getting a lot of help from my kids' school in terms of going in voluntarily and being signposted a bit towards what's changed most recently and is worth me getting up to speed on first - but without that I'd be snookered.
Getting out of the system where the entire school curriculum feels like a lampost for new Governments to cock their leg and piss up to mark their territory and produce lots of new shiny pamphlets to get their photograph on (yes that 4 month wait to get our copies of the Literacy Strategy so they could change the Govt. Minister on the front's photo still annoys me to this date) and have a much more manageable speed limit implemented on curriculum change would do a lot as well. Instead of this lunacy of every Government just chucking a bundle of half thought out ideas in "that'll do for the next 5 years and then it'll be someone else's problem to sort out".
I absolutely agree with taking education or of the hands of politicians.
I think virtually everything needs taking out of the hands of politicians. They've screwed up just about everything for a few decades now, education, healthcare, tax, benefits, etc. Neither side are any better - the whole lot of them are just incompetent short-termists who only look as far as the next election. We need some kind of "new" way of government, i.e. cross-party commissions for each area of government that have long term aims and joined up thinking. I really think we're looking at "end game" for the current system. We also need Parliament to stop the media headline grabbing mentality - we deserve properly thought out long term plans, not meaningless soundbites.
Put schools back into local authority control with local inspections. Scrap league tables and stop putting schools in competition with each other. Ban the outstanding rating. Massively reduce data gathering and targets based on prior data. Make schools tackle low-level behaviour problems with centralised detentions run by SLT. Isolate internally excluded kids from each other. Remove or reduce parental choice and make kids go to their nearest school. Get rid of school uniform or at least have less prescriptive, less formal, less expensive uniform (e.g. generic black trousers, white shirt, green jumper, black trainers or shoes) - checking up on uniform and punishing kids for it is yet another pointless drain on teachers' time and a source of constant aggro. Oh and ban grammar schools.
I think so much of what is unnecessary and time-wasting in schools is ultimately done to superficially please and attract parents (who mostly do not realise the harm it collectively does) and to make schools seem like shiny, productive, innovative corporate business institutions whuch look good in paper. Which is not what schools should be.
Put schools back into local authority control with local inspections.
Please no! You wouldn't get rid of the politics - and I've found local politics are more damaging than national because you end up with more pettiness and vested interests. I've always lived near a county border so am "sensitive" to how the schools operate in both counties. At least these days, they're similarly managed, but go back a few decades and the difference was striking, with the poor pupils paying the price of unfettered political interference with no real oversight or control, and dare I say it, a whole lot more "dubious" spending and appointments. There were some pretty monumental differences in school performances between counties! I think separate national organisations such as Ofqual and Ofsted are the right answer, but I would rather that they weren't at the will of hopeless politicians and allowed to be more independent and operated by proper professional experts rather than politically appointed.
Get rid of huge MATs. I can say this now as I no longer work there but i’ve witnessed, over the last 4 years, AET totally destroy the school I had been at for 15 years. They are too big to give a shit about the individual schools and staff, let alone the children. They have mismanaged the school shockingly, leaving it with falling rolls, hardly enough staff to keep it going and no HT. it’s criminal. Their CEO gets paid a fucking fortune.
God I would love a whole day of PPA, not just a few hours here and there. As an NQT I get two hours one afternoon and two hours another afternoon. It's lovely, but a whole day would be really amazing. To be honest I would ideally need 1.5 days but one day would be blissful!
It's the workload. Need less teaching hours, more time to reflect, smaller classes ( research that says class size doesn't matter: you try it, Mr academic. It matters to the person teaching the class.) , more interest in the happiness of children and teachers, clear, effective, reliable rules and discipline that teachers are confident they will be supported in exercising. Basic expectations of respectful behaviour , not for individual teachers, but for the privilege of having an education when most in the world do not.
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