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Teacher's workload: a solution?

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

  1. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    I am a physics&maths teacher and, like the poster of that wonderful story referred to in the OP, have the freedom to leave an 'abusive' post (because abusive is what it amounts to) and waltz into another in a short amount of time.

    But that's not what I want as a teacher.

    I want to work in a school where the children genuinely come first, not the educational gimmicks, the slavish adherence to data and the pressure from management who care more for their own egos/prestige/careers/salaries than they do for the wellbeing of students and staff.

    I want to work somewhere where my efforts are appreciated.

    And I want to stay there. I want to stay there to get to know as many of the children as possible, to see them progress from Y7 to Y13.

    I want them to get to know me, to know that my classes are fun, that they will enjoy learning physics with me, that I will do everything I can to support them.

    Sadly, in an increasing number of schools, none of that is possible. My time and energy is drained with meaningless nonsense and I have too little left to give in the classroom. I left what I think will be my last UK teaching job in December and in August will start my first international post. I leave with some sadness and concern for the future of education in the UK, but knowing that I've done my best and can done no more. And I leave with the hope that some of those things I want from a job will be possible in my new school.
  2. Jamvic

    Jamvic Senior commenter

    Well said! Excellent post!! That 100% describes what I originally signed up for too. I think these things are all that people who are genuinely attracted to teaching really want.
  3. Mrsmumbles

    Mrsmumbles Star commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  4. simonCOAL

    simonCOAL Occasional commenter

    Workload is entirely down to leadership, I reckon.
    Over-zealous ‘junior’ leaders (middle up to AHT and DH) not being kept in check by HTs and Exec HTs who are happy for the dirty work to be done by someone else.
    drek and Jamvic like this.
  5. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Yes. Sadly I think that most of those who have the power to change things can never undertand this though, because they are not 'genuinely attracted', as you put it, to teaching, but to the career opportunities it offers them.
  6. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    Quick points.
    I no longer work for UC, and shouldn't have put myself in a position to defend it, etc. But, you can register earnings by other means, there is specialist support for people with access barriers to online services, there is no fine for late reporting but payment may be delayed; and the digital service exists because it is better for more people more of the time than the call centre was.

    KPIs won't put learners first? Bit like now then. But maybe better KPIs can be drafted?

    Call it mumbo jumbo if you like. I work in digital service design. Some of our internal language got popular and hideously misued by ******, until it's seen as mumbo jumbo by many. But it has actual useful meaning in my world. I didn't mean to offend with the 'unconstrained' comment, more that when I was in teaching, the status quo was always the big blocker on everything; my current life allows me to hypothesis / discuss with no such concern. I don't, however, write policy.
    Pretty much every conversation I had whilst in teaching about what needs to be fixed got derailed as everything needed something else to happen. If the education system were a building, you'd knock it down and start over; but you can't coz there's people in there. So, instead we change the wallpaper.

    No thoughts on cost cutting (if anything, a potential call for an upswing in salary costs). Merely thinking aloud; and more in the vein of a contract lasting for a module of study, not day rates.
  7. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    This pretty much somes up the problem with teaching and I don't doubt other industries as well.
    There is a bizarre obsession with measuring and evidence, rather than concentrating on supporting young people. It is not possible to measure the impact of the couple of minutes I have just spent speaking to a student, but by taking an interest perhaps they feel a little better. Or maybe there was no impact at all, but that doesn't matter either.
    Catgirl1964 and agathamorse like this.
  8. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    A KPI doesn't have to be a measured quantity, it can be qualitative; it can be evidence of a contribution towards a desired goal - such as being available to support a student like you detail above.
  9. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    I truly wish that every disgruntled teacher in the UK would move abroad. Then the UK would need to compete to keep teachers in the UK.
    Catgirl1964 and agathamorse like this.
  10. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    Would I need to record evidence of having spoken to a student?
  11. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    up at 3am again to start marking.....
  12. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    I love this one. Teachers having a stamp to put "verbal feedback given" onto student work. I once had to ask my students to print out programs just so I could stamp "verbal feedback given" onto the printouts. Madness.
    Jamvic, Eszett and agathamorse like this.
  13. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    No more than you'd have to provide evidence of ever having taught a lesson
  14. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    Since I wouldn't have to provide any evidence that I have met the KPIs, either we would have to conclude that no matter what I had done I had met them, or it would be on the whim of some manager who is probably trying to keep costs down. Can't see any problems with that at all...
    bessiesmith likes this.
  15. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    I assume that you are being ironic.

    I have seen piffling payrises not awarded due to not meeting KPIs.
    I was once refused a 1% payrise because I had not helped enough year 10 students find a work placement.
    I was not aware that it was my responsibility to find employers for y10 work placements and I was not aware that I had found ANY employers, yet, in the KPI spreadsheet there was a number in the spreadsheet.
    I left the job, teaching and the UK.
    Jamvic and agathamorse like this.
  16. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    Ah, but you see the problem is that you probably didn't have some jumped up business consultant setting the targets, if you had, the end result would have been the same.
    agathamorse likes this.
  17. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    We're using different concepts of KPI. A KPI could be that you provided time before and after lessons for student contact, or like Uni lecturers had set times in a week where you were available for student contact. None of this needs to be quantified, and the existence of the strategy is in of itself sufficient evidence
  18. ajrowing

    ajrowing Occasional commenter

    I think I am beginning to understand. You mean that we should have strictly defined working hours, and not do anything outside of them. If something urgently came up, would I then get paid extra? If I choose to support the students for longer as frequently happens would I get paid extra?
  19. adam_nichol

    adam_nichol Occasional commenter

    That would be an accurate description. Whilst contracts could vary according to what the teacher wished to offer (eg: data collection and analysis, chasing attendance, and others), the terms would be fixed and any new strategy / policy / demand would need to be additional.
  20. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    I am glad to say that this describes my last 30-odd years as a teacher. I see that you are moving overseas; I did that years ago for other reasons, but returned to the UK. The independent sector has a lot going for it, and I am endlessly grateful for the opportunities I've had. I hope I have managed to deliver what was wanted in those schools.
    agathamorse and sparkleghirl like this.

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