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What do you think of the DfE’s efforts to cut teachers’ workload?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Apr 9, 2018.

  1. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Feedback is self-evidently useful. Even without a teacher, we receive feedback on whatever we are trying to achieve and act accordingly.

    It all gets very messy when you try to define what good feedback is, and even messier when you try to measure it to prove the point!

    To me, feedback is simply part of good teaching and is almost impossible to isolate from it. It can even be silence at the appropriate time or even a certain look or a raised eyebrow. It's impossible to measure some things, and foolish to try. I've always found Socratic questions to work as well as (or to be honest, much better!) than any other feedback "technique" or style.

    I argued well over ten years to others in the profession that surely verbal feedback was more useful than written feedback is it is immediate, supportive, relevant and highly targeted. Yet, I was almost maligned for such things. As I like to say, it was like showing a dog a card trick. How times change.

    Additionally, it is never the burden of anyone to prove something doesn't work...!
    Jamvic, drek and Pomza like this.
  2. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    This is becoming a mantra in education at the moment but the reality is far from the certainty we are bombarded with by consultants and wannabe academics. The truth is that very little is certain in educational research, little is replicated and a lot is interpreted and over-emphasized.

    There's a lot of people who throw around claims of "evidence" third-hand after interpretation by third parties who often have a dog in the fight. I think we'd do just as well using common sense and letting good teachers just teach in the way that comes naturally to them.

    And when you look at comparisons of standards of GCSEs (continually rising) and then compare them to standardised measures across the same period, there is NO increase in standards, so one set of data / evidence must be "wrong" and it appears to be the GSCE data. So what does that mean for all other measures we are making from that GCSE data? Scary stuff.

  3. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    But......Performance Related Pay, that works doesn't it?
    Scintillant likes this.
  4. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Again, it was politely explained using numerous studies that it wouldn't work.

    And it hasn't.

    But still.

    Evidence didn't matter then, and still doesn't matter now. And I doubt any amount of it will change minds.
    Jamvic, drek, woollani and 1 other person like this.
  5. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    No, that’s a non sequitur.

    If Ofsted caused the problem by promoting certain practices, with an implicit threat that those who didn’t join in would be downgraded, with the obvious threat to a HT’s job, then the problem is with Ofsted, not those responding to the threat.

    When Ofsted refuse to use the same level of threat once they’ve realised how wrong they were, the fault remains with them.

    Could SLTs react more intelligently? Quite possibly. But if Ofsted has done the right thing and sent out an equal threat about overworking staff, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
    drek, woollani and slingshotsally like this.
  6. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    But, as mentioned above, regulating how hard staff are worked or not worked, is not within their current remit...

    Think of other regulatory bodies operating in the UK. Their function is to protect the interests of the consumer, not to intervene in employer/employee disputes. That is the role of a trade union.
  7. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    Which brings us back to the initial question.

    Have the DfE done enough? The ‘teacher shortage’ suggests not.

    I’d add that ‘workload’ needs to be seen as a pretty broad umbrella term. I think the issue needs to be seen as workload AND STRESS.

    I’ve talked about management fear. Right up there, equal with Ofsted, is league tables. SLT will work everyone as hard as possible to get the best results.

    But here’s the thing, depending on a teacher’s preferred style/methods, and on an SLT’s preferred style/methods, this will be easier for some than others. If your practices already fit in with SLT’s, it’s often a doddle. If they don’t, it can be a hard slog.

    And behind it all is another level of threat, that if capability if you don’t play be your SLT’s rules. This is also an issue for ‘older, more expensive’ staff.

    Something I’ve suggested before is to make capability proceedings far more difficult with more experienced staff. Shall I say something we all know? If you’ve passed your PGCE, gone from the bottom to the top of MPS, then up to UPS3, then you’re almost certainly not an ‘incapable’ teacher.

    At the moment you can go through that whole process, and get excellent results, and still be sacked in a matter of weeks for not pandering to your SLT’s prejudices. Or for being an easy way to cut the school’s budget deficit.

    That has got to be wrong, and has got to be a major contributor the mess in which we currently find ourselves.

    Stop that by making capability far more difficult for experienced staff, and you’ll go a long way to solving the problem.
    Jamvic, JohnJCazorla, drek and 3 others like this.
  8. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    The last time I checked, the effectiveness of leadership and management are most certainly a large part of Ofsted’s remit.

    If you’re arguing that the DfE could block Ofsted from including workload in this area, I wouldn’t like to say. But what I can say is that Spielman has made it clear that she doesn’t want to go down that route.

    Current activity from the DfE suggests they’re desperate to reduce workload. So at the moment it looks like the people stopping this happening are at the inspectorate, not Whitehall.
    slingshotsally likes this.
  9. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    This comment strikes to the crux of the matter.

    But, isn't this true of any profession? No matter what you do, surely your life will be easier if you're doing the way that your boss wants you to do it?
  10. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

  11. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    No, it’s not true of all other professions.

    In successful industries, good bosses look after their staff, and accept differences as long as the employee gets results.

    You’ve just exhibited what I feel is the most dangerous attitude in education, that jobs in the ‘real world’ are largely how education has gone over the last 5-10 years.

    It’s a complete nonsense. Certainly you get some draconian bosses who say “my way or the highway”, but they’re the poor ones, are usually seen as such, and often don’t last long, at least in the professions.

    A cookie cutter working mentality may be common in non-professional industries, but less so in those with which teachers would usually like to be compared.
    Jamvic, SomethingWicked, drek and 3 others like this.
  12. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    You’re saying it’s not in Ofsted’s remit, because they currently choose not to do it.

    It’s clear that, if Ofsted asked the DfE if it could help with the workload crisis by threatening to downgrade schools which overwork staff, the governnent would bite their hand off.

    Spielman has been clear - she doesn’t want to ask.
    Jamvic, drek and slingshotsally like this.
  13. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    I agree that good managers adopt a flexible stance which allows them to better accommodate (and benefit from) the individual strengths of their employees. However, I can't believe that you would disagree that when the manager and the employee have a complimentary approach and/or philosophy towards the job, the employee is more likely to have a better time in the workplace. Ultimately, it is the management which decide 'the rules' (for want of a better way of putting it).

    I'm not too sure that Ofsted determine there own remit. They are appointed by the government to act within a defined mandate.

    I also think that they have actually done quite a lot to communicate to school leaders what myths there are surrounding school inspections, You just need to read the inspection handbook, which is what they grade against. (Or read any of the updates that get emailed to HTs, or watch their youtube videos, or read Sean H's twitter, or go to any Ofsted training events, read the handbook, read the 'myth-busting' document etc.)

    For me, local leaders have no excuse for making their staff slave away completing pointless rubbish. They need to protect their teachers from all the garbage (like a s*** umbrella) and only adopt purposeful practices which ensure the kids get the best classroom teaching possible and the teachers go home and lead a normal life, so that they can remain happy and healthy. It's for the leaders to show some conviction and explain to inspectors (if necessary)why they do things the way they do...
  14. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    It's clearly not working though as these practices are still endemic in the education system. The messages are also undermined when they award good and outstanding to schools still enacting these policies. Since their actions are ineffective and you think Ofsted shouldn't downgrade schools that do them, what should Ofsted be doing different? Recruitment is down, retention is down. Business as usual is not acceptable.
    drek, woollani and Scintillant like this.
  15. Jolly_Roger12

    Jolly_Roger12 Occasional commenter

    Poorly managed schools often have managements that do not act like sh*t umbrellas for their staff but sh*t conduits, deflecting it from themselves onto those below.
    Jamvic and drek like this.
  16. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Bang on!

    Unfortunately, that type of leader is not so apparent in schools these days, and the wrong type have been attracted and promoted. Hence the coursework cheating, off-rolling, over-excluding, and removal of older, more expensive teachers. To compound matters, we also appear to have too many of the wrong type not just running and schools. but now also on MT boards, overseeing chains of schools. And people have voted with their feet. I just cannot see any way out of it now other than a lowering of standards for teacher qualification and some form of lesser qualified persons delivering "quality-controlled" material/lessons... I'm sure it's coming!
    Jamvic, drek and woollani like this.
  17. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    I've long thought part of the problem is people who should be teaching children see themselves as some sort of player in the business world. Hence all the CEOs we are seeing, the stupid salaries, flash cars, extravagances and business strategies etc. It's tragic really. No one is more important than the teachers. We are finding that out the hard way.
    Jamvic, drek and woollani like this.
  18. Timothy_Blue

    Timothy_Blue Lead commenter

    My commendations to you.
    Scintillant and drek like this.
  19. Jolly_Roger12

    Jolly_Roger12 Occasional commenter

    Exhausting staff with pointless and unproductive tasks is surely not a sign of good management?
    drek likes this.
  20. moscowbore

    moscowbore Senior commenter

    Dear pomza,
    I find myself sometimes in complete agreement with you and other times in complete disagreement.

    No, it is not true of every profession. Believe it or not, there are professions where a dissenting voice is encouraged. I wrote software for a living before I was a teacher. Organisations in that game are continually looking to improve productivity to gain commercial edge. I was encouraged to be critical of processes and procedures. Reviews were held in ego-free environments in a company culture that embraced improvement through change. Could not be more different from schools.
    Jamvic, drek and woollani like this.

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