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Teacher's workload: a solution?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by adam_nichol, Feb 7, 2019.

  1. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    This thread was posted on here. An example of a teacher being in a position to resist additional workload. It's a good read, but I'll summarise it below for the sake of this thread

    School wants staff to produce evidence for Performance Management. Teacher is supply worker, says don't work for you not interested in your PM process. Additional work is resisted.

    Is this actually the solution to ever-growing teacher workloads? Apologies if this has been done to death already; but my current job is to dissect problems and find solutions with no consideration for the status quo. You get some odd solutions sometimes, but its nice to be free of constraint/tunnel vision when it comes to looking a things.

    Problem - teachers have excessive workload. They struggle to resist additional demands because it jeopardises their job, and alternate employment is likely to be the same.
    Solution - teachers no longer work for schools but are self-employed / agency employed as the norm. They are paid hourly rates to produce lesson resources and deliver those lessons. Performance in the role is determined through a set of agreed KPIs (just like every other contractor relationship). Professional development will come via agency (or self if SE); as will ITT.

  2. SomethingWicked

    SomethingWicked Occasional commenter

    I struggle to see how a carousel of ad-hoc teachers can provide long-term oversight from either a pastoral or academic perspective. Poor retention has already eroded schools' capacity to see these long-term trends as teachers are coming and going from one year to the next. I fail to see how increasing that turnover will improve standards for students.

    Moreover, there is a finite number of schools within travelling distance for most teachers, so the de facto reality will be that schools have to comply with management to get recurring employment offers.

    Lastly, the rights of 'gig economy' workers are being hotly contested and are considered by many to be exploitative. Giving up on the decades of hard won union ground seems unwise. Reducing the hiring-and-firing protections of teaching staff cannot help matters.

    It's a well intentioned idea but I can't see it working for anyone except a narrow range of teachers.
  3. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    coming towards the end after nearly thirty years, a bit off my pension in exchange for being in charge of my life is well worth it and just where I'm heading next. I see very few older teachers on contract now but a lot on agency terms, so it seems a common solution.
    lardylegs and agathamorse like this.
  4. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I am probably one of those beneficiaries but that is because I'm Maths/Science in West Yorks. Also a half-decent teacher which puts me ahead of a lot.

    But the moment a cheaper one turns up then I'm shown the door, already happened to me twice (maybe 3 times) in the last 2 years. I'm easy with that because I'm on the winning side a lot more often and I can afford the occasional spells of unemployment.

    In short I'm exploiting a loophole but if everyone did it then we'd all be worse off as managers regain the power to pick and choose.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    I would be interested to learn what kind of things might be KPIs for a teacher and also if you could give us some examples of industries where this approach works well?
  6. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    I have several friends who have gone down the supply teaching route. We have discussed the pros and cons and they say that the agencies are now becoming saturated with supply teachers around here so pay rates are not great (although the schools still seem to be charged an awful lot). The disadvantages for the students are obvious as mentioned above so from a parent's point of view this is clearly not a good idea.

    Thinking purely from my own point of view though the pros are:
    No performance management
    No need to do any admin I don't want
    No need to take the blame for any poor results
    No parents' evenings or other after school events
    No extra-curricular activities to do
    I can take holidays when I want

    No teacher pension
    No holiday pay
    Very little job satisfaction in seeing students progress / achieve good results
    No support / rapport from colleagues
    No guarantee of work / income
    No extra-curricular activities to do (this is both a pro and a con for a music teacher)

    For me, being permanently employed by a school is still a better option but as I say, many others have jumped ship.
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  7. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    Tricky questions, but I can shed some light on the latter.

    At the moment, UK gov't is going through a transformation in how it approaches it's services/provisions. Formerly, it used 'Waterfall' where ideas were dreamt up by experts and developed into a reality by project teams. It's more miss than hit as an approach, generally as testing is late in the process and graded against the design brief not the people who actually use it. The alternate is user-centred, where the service is designed to the needs of those who will use it. Civil Service lacked in-house experts in User Research and Service Design, so is currently utilising professional contractors for many of these roles whilst in-house talent is developed.

    KPIs for these contractors are based around expectation of what someone in the role would contribute, not what the project outcomes are (as these have other impacting factors). To translate this to teaching, the KPIs would be things like a teaching plan with real time reiteration, development and utilisation of appropriate resources, classroom teaching of the required standard.

    For this idea to work well in reality, there'd have to be some changes in the surrounding climate. It would be better if contracts were for a particular module of study - which'd require changes to the design and assessment of qualification; along with a culture change against the educate-in-year-groups foundation (much criticised by me elsewhere on TES).

    So, (funny as it might be), I'm not advocating mass resignations and revolving doors; but just trying to stimulate debate on solutions that are not hampered by concerns over the status quo.

    The concerns over rights in the gig economy, holiday pay, sick pay, pensions, et al, are all valid. I wonder if they would change if that method of working became more commonplace - but I have no evidence to say either way.
  8. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    Is that the same sort of transformation that led to companies like Capita, Interserve and G4S messing up a range of public services, or more like the transformation that has gone along with Unviersal Credit or is it some other transformation?

    How can you tell whether I am teaching to the required standard? Who determines what the required standard is?

    I would like to suggest a transformation that would work well in teaching. Trust teachers, and headteachers to do the best job they know how to for the students in their class.
    Get rid of CEOs, advisors, inspectors, consultants and the like who take alot of money out of education without actually educating anyone, but who are to be fair very good at putting meaningless words together on a page and selling it to people.
  9. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    More like Universal Credit - though that is a rather flawed example for me to rely upon (I used to work at Universal Credit); but provides a good for instance. Under older benefits, a claimant who got a job had to report that job and earning to the service centre, which was typically only open at the times the claimant was working [waterfall service design being too concerned with processing methods and the uses of a service centre]. Under UC, claimant can report work online at their convenience, and the earnings are tracked through HMRC. This is because the 'need' that was addressed came from the claimant's perspective - As a Claimant I need to report my earnings so that my claim can be accurately paid on time; and not 'how do we make the service centre satisfy the policy?'.
    There are better examples from MoJ and DEFRA, but they are less accessible to those outside of the nuance of Justice and Farming.
    A matter for contract terms. How do you know that any service you pay for is being done to the right standard? Agree the terms/evidence in advance.
  10. afterdark

    afterdark Established commenter

    My solution to the workload problem would be

    1. Change the law back to the requirement that you need to be a qualified teacher to stand in front of children and teach.
    2. Have teachers form their own professional body without interference from the government. I do not mean the kangaroo court GTC that was foisted upon the profession.
    3. Abolish academies
    4. Curtail the huge managerial salaries
    5. Get rid of league tables
    6. Enact the dissolution of the the quango OFSTED
    7. Expand the HMI
    8. Introduce a maximum class size
    9. Increase dedicated PPA time
    10. Require all future education initiatives be independently assessed and piloted before being rolled out at all school.
    11. Ban media naming of teachers accused by students (of whatever) until a trial (in a law court) is or has taken place.
    12. Creation of a national set of exemplar lesson plans with rationales that all teachers could refer to draw upon.
    13. Reopen the PRU's
    14. Abandon the lie of "every child matters", a policy which achieves the exact opposite of what it purports to achieve.
    15. Whenever some individual starts saying “schools should be teaching <insert latest trend here>”, these people should be required to say what they want schools to drop because the timetable is already full.
    16. Either drop all initiatives that detract from actually teaching the curriculum
    17. Stop judging teachers on the exam results of individual people (students) instead of group trends and cross subject comparisons.
    After making these changes a lot of problems will resolve themselves. Whilst some people may not see the connection between workload, when you had to be a qualified teacher to actually teach, teachers were, generally speaking, more valued and less put upon.

    Some may not initially understand the rationale of 11, but far too many teachers face malicious accusations and are then judged via the media because parents report names to the press. This then leads to increased workload for the remaining teachers in the school.
    HMI behaved professional manner. They judged impartially without political agenda.
    Triple marking and other nonsense originated from OFSTED, whilst they may deny it, their unreasonable demands for evidence of what should be self-evident drove this particular nonsense and lots of other silliness. The end result has been a massive increase in workload.

    I do not expect any of above to happen, but one can dream.
  11. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    I had a very enjoyable weekend a few years ago at a prestigious university who had organised an event for teachers to get to know them and them to hear from teachers. They were rather puzzled by my insistence that their all singing all dancing website was pointless if they were trying to attract applicants from the deprived rural areas where I live. Because either they did not have an internet connection or the internet connection was so slow that their website would not load anyway.
    You say that making it possible (is it the only way?) to register ones earnings on universal credit online puts the user at the centre. I would suggest to you that what it actually does is save money at the job centre and for a significant number of claimants make it rather difficult for them to obtain benefits, saving money again. Let me guess they are also fined for failing to complete the form correctly on time?

    Do delivery companies such as Yodel have key performance indicators for their drivers? This may account for why they drive so dangerously on narrow lanes, leave parcels all over the place, it took us several months to work out that they had delivered a parcel to a village several miles away to a house with the same address. All that having key performance indicators for teachers will do is that teachers will focus on achieving those indicators rather than teaching the students best.

    From your opening post I see that you are in the business of suggesting changes to organisations I would like to suggest that I am looking at your suggestions free of constraint/tunnel vision of business mumbo jumbo.
  12. bessiesmith

    bessiesmith Occasional commenter

    I was going to 'like' your post until I got to number 14. The first thing Michael Gove did on becoming education secretary was to abolish the 'Every Child Matters' policy - apparently no-one was allowed to mention it ever again in the DfE. To me this was highly symbolic and prophetic of everything that was to follow. It is clear with the marketization of academies, over-paid CEOs, funding cuts, data targets, morale-sapping changes to the teaching profession etc that children were fairly low down the list of priorities under his watch. Things haven't improved.
    fadeyushka_1967 likes this.
  13. afterdark

    afterdark Established commenter

    I left the UK many moons ago. I am delighted by the abolition of ECM and astounded that Gove actually managed to do anything remotely useful.

    You did see that my point 3 was abolish academies didn't you?

    Anyways, to make us even I won't like your post either then, fairs fair eh?
    Catgirl1964 likes this.
  14. Deirds

    Deirds Senior commenter

    If the government took on your solution there would be no teachers.

    “Could you just pop over to X school 36 miles away? Just be in front of the class 10- 11am.” That’ll catch on.

    Are you imagining that you have come with a super idea to cut costs in schools and rake in consultancy fees? Apologies if nothing could be further from your mind...but it does sort of come across that way.
  15. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    you can't pay teachers per hour because it would cost far too much. teacher salary divided by teacher hours is often below the minimum wage. That is why teachers do so much rather than teaching assistants, who are often paid an hourly rate.
    Mrsmumbles, bessiesmith and ajrowing like this.
  16. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Shall we make it easy?
    • Ditch marking, apart from termly tests
    • Ditch reports, apart from termly tick box
    • Scrap lesson observations for anyone who is above Progress 8 -0.4
    • Ditto work scrutiny
    • Scrap performance management
    • Farm out capability to an independent body
    Anyone disagree?


    Right, all settled. Anyone fancy a pint?

    By the way, Nick Gibb, if you did the above you might actually be able to get away with 2% wage rises.
  17. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Mate, it’s been happening since 2013; we’re called networks of private tutors and are currently education’s unsung fifth column! We have little interest in being tracked, regulated or interfered with any more...we gave up being part of the pension scheme to go self employed to get this autonomy.
    fadeyushka_1967 likes this.
  18. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    Nick Bibb cannot even get away with doing his flies up properly. Gnashy-toothed loon that he is...
  19. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    Spot on!
    afterdark likes this.
  20. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    H's so dense, light bends round him.
    bessiesmith and sparkleghirl like this.

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