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COSLA - who are they?

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by gnulinux, May 18, 2011.

  1. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Anyone been on to the COSLA site to find out in detail what this lot are up to, who the faces are behind it, what their agenda(s) are etc, etc?

    Isn't there a saying that you should keep your friends close and your enemies even closer??
     
  2. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    'COSLA are a bunch of arrogant idiots who are the self-appointed 'powers that be.''

    Exactly - they behave like a parallel Government - only unelected and therefore undemocratic. And with the EIS as their lapdog.
     
  3. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I started reading this post about to give something of a defence to COSLA (unified agreement and all that) until I read this guy's interview.
    He really doesn't have a clue about education, does he? It's simply a managers-eye view of life. And given that he's been in senior positions for 28 years he can't even give some sort of perspective. So far out of touch he's practically on the moon.
    "What is being challenged is a view that resources invested in teachers are resources invested in children. I don’t think that is any longer being accepted as right by leaders" So where should the resources be invested then? More shiny new pencils? More "experts" advising on new curriculum styles?
    "...we have seen no discernible further investment in the children these teachers are responsible for - it’s stuck with the teachers." So you'd rather have badly paid, poorly motivated teachers than ones who can see the rewards (financial and personal) in a career path, able to encourage and inspire children?
    "...in theoretical terms, there is absolutely no evidence that a specific number of teachers or a specific number of pupils per class enhances the educational objectives we have." So in your view, a primary school teacher in a class of 33 can give the same quality of attention and time to a pupil as one in a class of 20? He may work in a world of theory, unfortunately teachers work in reality and are well aware of the answer to that one.
     
  4. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    And parents too, which is where the battle will have to be fought and won.
     
  5. gnulinux

    gnulinux Occasional commenter

    Anyone read this ... ?

    https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6082691

    It is clear that ADES seem to have had a significant role in this attack on the teaching profession. These are individuals that have far too much power and clearly don't care about our education system.

    Over the years I have listened to several D's of E speak in public and the majority of these have come across as arrogant, aggressive, and ignorant self-seekers.

    Extract ...
    The pay cuts, proposed originally by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and backed by the Scottish Government, could have the effect of ?rapidly diminishing the pool of available supply teachers?, leaving schools ?unable to find cover, so pupils may be sent home?, he predicts.

    It?s a claim rejected by John Stodter, general secretary of the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.

    ?At a time when local authorities are reducing the number of teachers that they employ, there may actually be more teachers available,? he says. ?So supply remains a good route into teaching.?

    Mr Stodter also challenges the claim that creating a division between short-term and long-term supply teachers is unjust. He says that most teachers working full-time recognise that in many cases short-term supply work ?doesn?t involve the same level of monitoring and additional work?.

    ?Teachers are pragmatic and willing to accept that the work of short-term supply teachers might be of less value,? he says.

    The EIS ?could be praised for showing leadership? in negotiating a difficult settlement over pay, he adds. ?It wants this resolved and out of the way so it can concentrate on the really big issue - the McCormac review of teachers? employment.?
     
  6. To play devil's advocate for a moment, although the rest of what he wrote is pretty much rubbish, this comment does have an element of truth to it. It's easy to "disprove" this statement by relying on our own experiences, but there has been considerable research given to the factors which contribute the most to education and the overriding factor every time is the teacher.
    I've experienced the benefit of small class sizes. However, I've also observed teachers who can provide a better learning experience and get better results out of a class of 30 than some can do with 15. The teacher has much more of an impact than the size of the class. Granted, small class sizes gives more actual time with each pupil, more time for marking etc which makes our job easier, but you have to ask the question - if some teachers can get the best out of a class no matter how many pupils are in it, then why is is unreasonable to expect all teachers to do the same?
    When a politician is counting the pennies, then I think it's fair for him to ask this question - the most expensive resource is the teacher and if quality of teaching has more of an effect than class size, then he wouldn't be doing his job if he didn't try to make the best use of the resources.
    Of course, it's also fair for teachers to ask of the politician for a less stressful job, which is what the argument for smaller classes should be, in my opinion.
     
  7. Because not all classes are the same in terms of ability, attitude and behaviour, regardless of numbers? And because teachers are not clones, the same way in which politicians are not clones?
    Why 'granted'? This certainly is not the case in many smaller schools where composite classes are the norm - frequently meaning that older pupils struggle for teacher time as the younger ones are less independent and more demanding. The least expensive resource - the invaluable classroom assistant in smaller schools - has been done away with thanks to that penny-counting politician you mention.
    Personally, I don't consider the class teacher to be the most expensive resource either - that title belongs to the ladder climbers outwith the classrooms, and organisations such as HMIE and LTS who cost a lot and contribute nothing.
     
  8. Do you not believe that research into the effect of class sizes would attempt to remove or average the other factors by taking a wide ranging sample?

    Why 'granted'? This certainly is not the case in many smaller schools where composite classes are the norm - frequently meaning that older pupils struggle for teacher time as the younger ones are less independent and more demanding.
    [/quote[
    I mean granted in that it's taken for granted that small class sizes do give you more time with each pupil. Not sure I understand what you thought I meant.

    I don't think that classroom assistants are the least expensive resource. As a rough guess, materials for the classroom would be the least expensive resource. Any adult working in a school is expensive. I don't know how much classroom assistants get paid, but the per-capita allocation for faculties in a school would be less than the pay for a teacher at the top of the scale. Unfortunately (for politicians) but fortunately (for workers), people are expensive.

    Would be interesting to see figures for that. My guess is there are a lot more teachers than ladder climbers, inspectors and LTS employees. Even if they got paid twice what teachers got paid, I would put a large bet on the wage bill being less than for teachers. But I'm maybe underestimating how many people sit "above" schools.

     
  9. Just butting in here. To answer your question: Definitely not. "Research" (it's unclear to what research you're referrring) is never done in a theoretical or financial vacuum, educational research in particular. And if you assume that "research" in general is somehow unbiased, you are living in cloud-cuckoo-land, my friend. You see, there is always a purpose and always an ulterior agenda to any research study, which is why the most important question to ask of it is always, "Who paid for it and why?" Data can always be intepreted and skewed to give whatever results the study-masters require.
    As I understand it, "research" in general over the past 50 years or so on the effects of class sizes on achievement has always been mixed, depending on too many factors to list here. The point is that politicians and others will always cherry-pick the research they need to prove their arguments for keeping class sizes as large as possible.
    Just look at the private schools for a moment. How many of them run classes of 30 and more in primary, I wonder? Precious few, I'll wager. Why? Because class size matters hugely to achievement, that's why, and they know it.
     
  10. No, as it is may be entirely dependent upon who commissioned the research and for what purpose!
    I meant "Who takes it for granted?" Simply because it is a fallacy to apply that across the board.
    Sorry, didn't make it clear that I was talking about human resources. But having said that, if expensive white elephants sich as GLOW are incuded as materials, perhaps I'm not far off the mark. It's not particularly easy to calculate the actual cost of class resources either. Meagre school budgets do not cover what is needed and the incidence of teachers dipping into their own pockets to make up the shortfall is on the increase.
    Yes there are more teachers than inspectors/LTS employees and yes their wage bill would therefore be larger. But teachers are required in classrooms - the others are not. In my book, that makes them an unnecessary and rather expensive 'resource'. The last figure I saw regarding the annual cost of HMIE/LTS was over £50M and that was for 2009.
     
  11. Fair enough. I'm well aware that research is biased, but so too is the research that states the opposite. We tend to take the side of the research which suits our position best.

    And we as teachers will always cherry pick the research we need. We're no different.

    Private schools have their own agenda there too, though. They need bums on seats. Pupil to teacher ratios are easy for parents to understand and give the impression that the quality of education will be better for their pupils. As you say, people use research to fit their own agendas. In education, it's difficult to say who is right.

     
  12. I wasn't implying that teachers were not required - my point being that I didn't think that removing LTS/HMIE would make much of a difference in terms of personnel resource.
    For example:
    Figures for 2010 were £5.6 million for LTS and £15.6 million for HMIe - enough to pay for 800 more teachers @ £25K or 700 @ £30K.



     
  13. amysdad

    amysdad Established commenter

    I know what you mean - in my parallel life, as well as being a prospective teacher I'm also a councillor on the education committee of the local authority (I'm not going to say which as my decision for next year isn't public yet) and you're right, we've had to pull back on the class size commitment in the last couple of years.

    But I know that my wife's P6 class - 33, many with various issues - would be much easier to handle if it was smaller. My local authority has concentrated class size reduction in less affluent areas, as the effect here is demonstrably greater. Of my group on the Education Committee, the vice chair (we're in coalition) is a former secondary teacher, another is a former primary headteacher and HMIE inspector, a third is a current teacher in a privately run "list D-type" (I don't know the current name) school, and me. Of the other parties, we have another former teacher and a current FE College lecturer.

    All of us want to try to reduce class sizes - I think it's better for kids as well as teachers - but the evidence is ambiguous. Still, from a behavioural point of view, it must be easier to control 25 kids than 33, even for the best teacher.
     
  14. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter


    amsydad,


    The evidence for the effectiveness of small classes is clear. Professor John Hattie, of New Zealand, has done a comprehensive study (EARLI Presentation by John Hattie for Web.ppt) of all the factors that lead to improved student achievement. He concludes that smaller class sizes are not as significant as other factors, but nonetheless he rates them as giving a nine-month improvement in student achievement. The Tennessee STAR study (available at http://www.heros-inc.org/) also showed that smaller classes result in improved student learning.


    I started teaching in 1974 and never had a class of 33 students. The largest class I ever had was 29 students, and that was for a few weeks only. Apart from two years, 1975 and 1981, I never had a full year with any class over 25. The average class size in my last school was 21.3 students. Victorian prep to year 2 classes are generally capped at 21 pupils and average 20.5. Year 3 to year 6 classes average 23.3 pupils. Year 7 to 12 classes are generally capped at 25 students, while the average for English classes at those levels is 21.6 students.


    Something does not add up. We are both wealthy communities. If we in Victoria can provide both smaller classes and lower teaching loads than Scotland, where does the money in Scotland go?
     
  15. Well, who knows, but a lot of it must go into propping up the ridiculously huge education bureaucracy here: 32 local authorities for a population of 5 million people, most of whom live within a very small geographical area, ie, within two hours of the Central Belt. (A big country this ain't, folks).
    Each local authority has a highly-paid director of education with a princely entourage of managers, QIOs, etc, etc (what DO those QIOs DO, anyway?) and apparently a massive budget---and appetite---for meetings, which are what stagnant bureacracies use to justify their existence. From where I sit, well outside the Central Belt, there are eight or nine of these education bureaucracies within an hour's drive.
    Then there are what I call the parasite national operations, those two useless outfits which bloat themselves on tens of millions in education funding from the SG annually, namely, LTScotland, whose brainchild is GLOW---need I say more?---, and HMIe.


     
  16. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter


    CanuckGrrl,


    We have even more local authorities ? 79 ? here for our 5.5 million people, but we do cover 227,000 square kilometres and each council is small. Only the City of Melbourne and the City of Geelong have more than 9 councillors each. The rest have between 5 and 9. Nor do councils have anything to do with education, which is a state responsibility. I don?t have the funding distribution, but the overwhelming majority of expenditure is by schools themselves. Last time I checked, there were very roughly 40,000 teachers, 10,000 student support officers and 2,000 central and regional staff. Some of the last are visiting teachers too. They are not all bureaucrats. We have no equivalent of HMIE.
     
  17. Wages only - don't forget infrastructure and running costs.
     
  18. Here in Scotland, the local councils here have powers that are the responsibility of provinces in Canada and states in Oz, such as education.
    As I understand it---someone will speedily correct me if I'm wrong! [​IMG]---Scottish local councils receive their education budget from the Scottish Govt. Councils appear to have real control over educational policy too, because they can decide how that education money is spent---they can, for example, refuse to implement SG directives on class sizes in P1-P3, or at least obstruct it and drag their feet on it, and then doctor the numbers to pretend they've done it, as my LA has. And btw, the council here is the employer of teachers, not the SG.
    What do student support officers do? Interesting numbers. Scotland has 50,000 teachers. I wonder how the central bureaucracy numbers compare.
    As for HMIe---Canadian provinces have no formalised external school inspection bodies either. How on earth do Canada and Oz manage to do so well on the international education league tables without inspectors??? And why is the UK, which has the world's most heavily inspected education system, not routinely topping out everyone else? Formalised external inspection is not fit for purpose. It's time to get rid of it once and for all, as the colonies did two or three generations ago.
     
  19. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    CanuckGrrl,


    Student support officers are lab assistants, library aides, integration aides, IT technicians, school business managers, etc - basically anyone employed in a school to support education who is not a teacher.
     

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