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Would school visits by the DfE help to improve the working life of teachers?

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, Oct 18, 2018.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    For some, the Department for Education appears nothing more than a remote behemoth of a government department where the bureaucratic machine grinds on chewing endless amounts of data, which could make or break a school, and spouts out endless edicts, empty promises and quotable soundbites. But what if government ministers and civil servants took the time to speak to those at the coalface of education and witnessed the low morale of teachers who are struggling to keep up with the ever-changing demands of the job? Would it really make a difference if they visited staffrooms across the UK to gain real insight into what is going wrong in the profession:

    ‘…It would appear this “prison” mentality pervades many of our schools. More than ever before, teachers are openly admitting they have fallen out of love with the profession and, if an opportunity arose, they’d have no doubt about leaving in an instant.

    When earwigging that day, I noticed that it didn’t take long for the conversation to turn heated and, for many, the rationale behind their feelings rolled off their tongues as though it had been said many, many times. Workload, of course, dominated: the endless planning, marking and continual filling in of forms that had no relevance to the children. A complete lack of respect was also cited – from the DfE, the wider public and sometimes, regrettably, the parents. Support was another reason: without sufficient support in place from leadership higher up the school, a lot of teachers are left feeling like they’re swimming against the tide, completely alone…’

    Colin Harris led a school in a deprived area of Portsmouth for more than two decades. His last two Ofsted reports were 'outstanding' across all categories.

    Would you welcome a visit to your staffroom by ministers and other DfE personnel? What would you tell them if you had five minutes with them? Do you believe things would change if ministers and civil servants could see the damage certain policies have done to education and the way it has affected teachers’ wellbeing?

  2. A_Million_Posts

    A_Million_Posts Star commenter

    It wouldn't make a difference because they'd see the sort of fresh painted, ideal world the Queen is faced with wherever she goes. Much as some school off-roll unruly children before inspection, outspoken teachers would be shipped off for a special day of CPD off site.
  3. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    A straw poll of how often ordinary classroom teachers have been asked for their ideas of how to improve things would be interesting
    stonerose and drek like this.
  4. A_Million_Posts

    A_Million_Posts Star commenter

    All the time, but the post-its and flip charts go in the recycling after the motivational CPD sessions.
  5. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Once teachers realise they will be scapegoated and talked down to forever by said school leaders that they have unknowingly ‘placed in a difficult situation’ by sharing their own thoughts honestly, they never do it again.......
    Sometimes just that one time that they let their guard down....perhaps after three or 4 full days with some of the rudest teens this side of the 21st century....without a single planning free just to take a deep breath in between groups.....they’ve had to pay the price or watch their colleagues pay the price. It’s been way too steep to ever listen to the newly anointed who say with great fervency that they would love to hear the truth about how our workload gets affected with every change in policy and the requests for ‘this is what I want to see’ evidence from different leaders that follows. (Ok they never ask, just bandy the word well being about and hope it goes away soon so they don’t have to anymore).
    When they do get the truth it’s usually followed up by a tightening of the micromanaged purse strings that drain the living daylights out of even the most optimistic amongst us!
    Call me cynical........but the short shelf life of qualified teachers in recent years indicates the opposite.
  6. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    What we need is the folk from the DFE to come and implement their policies in the classroom for a month.....
    Visits are no good at all. They just mean that SLT are even less likely to deal with Bolshy Bill.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. patternandsurface

    patternandsurface Occasional commenter

    100% agree with this. The DfE are not made up of people unaware of the problems, just people unwilling to figure out how to sort out the mess they have made of Education.
    EmanuelShadrack and agathamorse like this.
  8. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    No, what you need are 100,000 teachers to jojn each of the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats and change the policies from within. Positive change will then come from the top as it has here in Victoria.
    nervousned likes this.
  9. Lalex123

    Lalex123 Established commenter

    This happened to our school when we were in special measures. It actually increased our workload because we had to prepare for each visit like an ofsted. We were also being heavily scrutinised by our academy sponsor and regularly visited by ofsted so it felt like we had an inspection every 6 weeks. It nearly killed us off!
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. SparkMaths

    SparkMaths Occasional commenter

    Maybe it's just me, but if I were an education minister I would be dropping into random school staffrooms all the time (without the media tagging along for a photo op).
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Agreed. The point of asking teachers what they think would not be to find out what they think, and act accordingly. The point would be merely to be seen to be asking. The important decisions will be, and most likely already have been taken irrespective of any opinions from the minions.

    Acting on evidence, and doing things scientifically, are very often incompatible with a politician's modus operandi.
    phlogiston and Jolly_Roger15 like this.
  12. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    There might be political mileage in 'hearing what teachers are saying' but none in actually listening to them.
    phlogiston and EmanuelShadrack like this.
  13. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    Yep - hence that wonderful opening line of "Yeah, I hear what you're saying, but..."
  14. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    It must be among the most annoying, frustrating, and patronising responses imaginable.

    A: "I hear what you're saying."
    B: "Thank you. Perhaps you could go one step further, and listen, too!"

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