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Could scrapping the paperwork pile and meetings be the answer to retaining our best teachers?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 17, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    Colin Harris believes he has a simple plan to tackle the workload crisis, but do you think the solution lies in just four areas?

    ‘It is rather more likely that we are spending endless hours perfuming menial tasks because that's just what is expected of us...

    Therefore, is it possible to come up with a simple strategy that can be adopted by all schools that would allow the question of working hours and, of course, work-life balance to be addressed.

    There are four keys areas that all leaders and governors need to look at. By tackling these areas, we may be allowed to return teachers to the job they actually enjoy doing – teaching. The school will need to act as a team and come up with a consistent and achievable approach in each of these areas.’
    Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades.

    What do you think? Do you agree with Colin Harris? If yes or no, why? What would your plan cover?

  2. moscowbore

    moscowbore Lead commenter

    No-one will disagree with the four problem areas identified by Mr Harris.
    However, it would all end in a heartbeat if OFSTED gave a RI rating for a school which had a pointless and onerous marking/assessment policy.

    Restricting meetings to two evenings a week is laughable. Meetings in any workplace are restricted to during work hours. Except schools obviously. Why should teachers be different?

    The article says:
    The most profound question to address is whether these extra hours spent in the school are actually improving the quality of teaching and learning.

    The profound question is why does anyone accept that a teacher's job cannot be done in the allocated hours.

    There is absolutely no evidence that heavy marking improves anything. Triple marking with different coloured pens became a trend which turned into one of those, "OFSTED requires it" lies. OFSTED have stated that they only check that the school marking policy is being followed. However, until OFSTED criticise a school publicly for having a ludicrous marking policy, it will continue.
    agathamorse, JohnJCazorla and bonxie like this.
  3. physicsfanboy

    physicsfanboy New commenter

    Missing few key things.
    The expanded management teams generate meaningless work to justify their existence. They also cost a fortune. Sacking all the pointless managers (90% plus) would massively reduce workload. It would also free up a huge amount of money to pay teachers, site staff, tech staff and other useful people. Thus, the schools could stop getting rid of experienced staff in order to bolster management pay, and start to hire / retain experienced useful people. More experienced people do the job better. The school runs more smoothly, the lessons are better, behaviour would probably improve, retaining staff becomes less of an issue, less disruption due to staff illness or staff saying 'stuff this'. Maybe we could even spend some money on resources. Books, not new buildings. Unless the buildings are collapsing, in which case new buildings are a good idea.

    The alleged reason for the huge management teams is the demand for 'data' (almost none of which is actually data, just numbers). OFSTED are now not interested in data (allegedly). There is no longer any excuse for having lots of managers.

    What would also help enormously is if we teachers stood up for ourselves. It may or may not have been a profession before the evil that was Gove, but it certainly isn't now. The best thing we can do to improve education is to regain our self respect so that we, en masse, resist the slings and arrows of outrageous ministers.
  4. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    The old Army maxim 'bullsh.it baffles brains' applies as much to OFSTED, as it does to many other organisations.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. moontitan

    moontitan New commenter

    Minimise the new ideas and initiatives, everyone needs stability and predictability in a job.
    I agree with the earlier post entirely, scrapping the bulging management teams such as assistant head teachers would be a good start. This is where the new initiatives come from as they have to justify their pay packets whilst the rest of us go round and round in exhaustion as they do and undo things.
    Ofsted should do zero notice inspections and they should be random, not every 5 years because in the lead up to the 5th year schools go mad as they will be expecting an inspection.
    Jamvic likes this.
  6. bramblesarah

    bramblesarah New commenter

    This is so true please will you set up a school so I can work there. When I was at school there was one head teacher, 1 or 2 Depts (who taught) then 1 experienced teacher had responsibility for ks3 pastoral and 1 for ks4 (and they taught as well). If there truly is all this extra work for SLT then there must also be more work for teachers so cut contact time. I thought I was the only person who thought the budget problems could be answered by less SLT
    If they were doing things to reduce workload like creating resources or working with small groups of difficult students then fair enough, but you are completely right all they are doing is making more work.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. Jonntyboy

    Jonntyboy Occasional commenter

    So many of the things said above are true, but again, it really depends on the management of the school. I have been lucky to have taught on shorter-term, fixed contracts in several state schools, and I have seen lots of ideas and practices. I've worked for several HoDs and Heads, and was a HoD myself for a fixed term a few years ago.
    When applying for jobs, I have made sure I went to look round first. Those schools that wouldn't let me, I have not applied to. Those schools where I didn't think I'd fit in, or where I felt there was something wrong, I didn't apply to. I know we can't all be that choosy, but I think it has worked for me and my advice to any new teacher would be to do it that way if you can.
    Most of the time I have been happy and felt appreciated, got on with colleagues and respected the SLT. But in one glaringly different, large establishment, where I went because I felt pressured to take the job, I quickly felt stressed and unappreciated. The Head was decent and thoughtful, but not up to the job. You could cut the tension with a knife in he staffroom. My colleagues were pleasant, but so stressed that they had little time to help me get going. My HoD was highly competent but scared stiff. The timetabling system was insane and the layout of the school - a new build - was ridiculous. The only redeeming feature was that I had a couple of great GCSE classes, who were an absolute joy to teach. Despite these, for my own sanity and health I got out as soon as I could, and fortunately got a new post quite soon.
    If the Head knows what s/he is doing and your SLT are supportive and competent, I would suggest that the school will thrive, irrespective of Ofsted, the Government, or anything else. But if the opposite is true, then it probably won't be long before things fall apart. It's the same with a commercial company.
    agathamorse likes this.

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