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Would this solve teacher shortages - almost at a stroke?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Nonentity, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    Currently there are 365 jobs for teachers of English. 465 Maths teacher vacancies. Similar numbers in other subjects.

    Out of interest I have been looking at online courses.

    Over the years I have known pupils/students pass their A levels through taking correspondence courses. Open University is an extended example of this albeit at degree level.

    Textbooks have vastly improved over the years too so what used to be difficult to understand, now is a lot easier. If not then it will not sell.


    A few years ago it was possible to buy DVDs that claimed to enable students to pass A levels.

    What they lacked, of course, was the feedback on students work.

    Technology has advanced - and so too has the familiarity of teenagers with iphones, iPads etc etc etc

    (I expect you can see where I am going with this)

    One of the courses I looked at this morning charged £50 for an individual to take an A level course. Network licences were available - with discounts if more than one subject was offered.

    Another company had teamed up with a tutorial agency and the course fee included one hour of tutorial via skype, per week.

    Let's say, just for the sake of this post, that an A level teacher is paid £25,000 a year.

    So, take a class of 24 pupils - again not that unusual for A levels in the state sector.

    Surely it would be so much better - for student and teacher - if the class was split into 2 groups of ten - or even four groups of five?

    Let's say the pupils were timetabled 5 hours a week for A level....anything, let's say, History.

    If four groups of five, each group could spend four hours a week going through the online course, submitting homework, comparing against answers, taking tests etc etc etc.

    Then one hour a week, in small group tuition, the group could go through their homework submitted IN DETAIL and see exactly why they were not getting perfect marks, exactly what exam technique was needed etc etc.

    That might cost the school £1000 a year in enrolments for the course but look at the quality improvements! Also look at the teaching load for the teacher. 4 hours a week going through homework line by line and 1 extra hour for...marking? analysis? checking online performances?

    But that is where the school has not shortage of staff.

    Now let's look at one where there is a teacher shortage.

    One teacher takes a class of 30 BECAUSE the school cannot afford a second teacher. A second teacher that would cost £25,000.

    Ok then have a designated study room with an onsite technician in case of IT problems. That person is there all day but different classes use the room so the allocated teaching load per subject varies.

    The 30 pupils go in there 3 lessons a week.

    For THREE lessons a week they are split into two groups and have two different teachers = 6 hours.

    So instead of one teacher teaching 5 hours there are now two teachers teaching a total of 6 hours but to a smaller group AND they now have a total of SIX lessons a week.

    This costs slightly more than before but NOT the same as having TWO teachers.

    Obviously there are variations on the above.

    But surely this dependence on technology is not what education is about?

    Maybe not five years ago but this generation have grown up with technology and if anything, are more used to it than teachers! Plus the reduction in size of the class means marking is reduced, low level noise, behaviour problems etc etc are all reduced.

    Surely this is a win-win situation and would solve the teacher shortage?

    'Ahhh but there are not the suitable courses available' you may say. Well, I have looked at three competing companies today and surely - as with textbooks - the market is so large that if the course is not suitable then a competitor will spring up. One company even has case studies on site showing how useful their courses are to schools, how it has saved teachers hours and hour and hours of marking.

    Well, surely if you cannot get the teacher - get the course! Save money, reduce teacher workload, improve outcomes and behaviour - everyone wins! (It also saves thousands of pounds spent in advertisements!)

  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    For what it's worth, you do fail to mention the ensuing extinction of an entire profession...

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Give it a few years. With AI and the next level of avatar-based interfaces, we WILL be replaced.

    Yoda-, Lara mfl 05 and slingshotsally like this.
  4. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    No I don't see that. Surely teachers would still be needed as I detail above, to go through work line by line, to deal with interpretation, exam skills etc etc Nuances, if you like.

    Which is better for a) the teacher b) the school as a whole c) pupils?

    1 class, 5 lessons a week, 30 people in the class


    1 class 3 lessons a week, then TWO more lessons in a group of 7 ?

    The latter would take right hours of teacher time thus a part-timer might be needed but if the groups were 15 (still a huge improvement) then no extra staff PLUS extra funds released for resources.

    In this case I am thinking of year 11 - think of behavioural problems, panic buttons, overcrowded classes, the last lesson on Friday etc etc

    Plus if this was adopted in the state sector it just MIGHT lead to the extinction of the Independent sector.....
  5. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    Yes, I have long thought that. Textbooks are now easier to follow - and skype-based tuition is available worldwide. Surely if this improves the lot of everyone, what's the problem? The teacher shortage would be solved - and the quality of online courses would improve and improve.

    I have observed classes where very little learning takes place because the teacher is fighting an uphill battle to maintain a semblance of control. This way the teacher would be less stressed, able to give more time to SEN, more money available for resources, pupils are familiar with technology anyway........

    In my own case I see less and less need for my own services and am actively looking to retire early before demand dries up. What I have been reading today has merely accelerated the process.
  6. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    I hope there will be a similar set up to deal with students' mental health problems, transgender issues, sexual harassment, on line safety, bullying etc. I presume school meals would be virtual as would OFSTED.
    Laphroig, Lara mfl 05 and sabrinakat like this.
  7. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    In fact you are - inadvertently - supporting my point.

    With a teacher shortage, overfull classes, under-resourced subjects, highly stressed teachers etc then the areas you detail, suffer.

    BUT with online courses, smaller classes, teacher time freed up then there would be fewer problems and more time to deal with them.

    The intensity of these problems is partly because of shortages, under financing etc. By using online courses - for a generation that has grown up with technology - these problems will a) be less and b) be dealt with more effectively. Record keeping would also be better.

    I am not advocating replacing teachers but where there is a shortage, actually improving the overall situation
  8. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Most technological improvements are heralded as creating more time for the employee but in your scenario there's no need for a 'proper' teacher outside of one lesson per week (for any specific class). So there will be a lot of redundancies, at best, (at worst there will be a lot of You Are Less Capable Than A Machine cases) and the remaining few will be chasing around the reinforcement lessons. Cover Supervisors, or other baby-sitters, watching the ICT.

    I don't doubt your prediction as the main driver of future education, Money, will dictate the future not my concerns.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  9. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    No again that is neither the title of the thread or my main point. The thrust of what I am saying is that IF there are teacher shortages then instead of teachers suffering with huge classes and stress, stress, stress and also pupils suffering, then rather than recruit a new teacher, use technology, reduce the workload and everyone gains.

    Why do teachers leave? ONE reason - of many - is workload and stress and pupil behaviour. By using technology fewer teachers would leave as in fact they'd be teaching smaller classes and teaching their subject rather than practising crowd control.

    So even if a school has a full complement of teachers ('IF') classes could still be reduced in size, workload reduced etc. Also where there are teacher shortages - as per the thread title - then surely these could be solved pretty much at a stroke.

    A saving of one salary of £25,000 would buy a whole lot of courses!
  10. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  11. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    True but how many micro-seconds would it take for a Head of a MAT to realise that
    1 x £25K = £25,000
    2 x £25K = £50,000
    3 x £25K = £75,000?
    Minus £20,000 (say) to buy the courses and the rest is a well-deserved pay increase.

    Only short of one teacher not the full three? Not even micro-seconds to work out that one.

    Again I agree with your analysis, just not the "more time/easier workload" bit.

    Of course, I've probably misjudged MATs here. It's possible that teachers will be 'requested' to write the courses thus saving the £20K.
    Lara mfl 05 and (deleted member) like this.
  12. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    Yes I agree with John's supposition but I suggest that instead of focusing on savings the Head may suddenly see the huge value this could give the school.

    That value would then be translated into results and results brings enrolments which brings...salary increases?

    I stress though that my rather basic analysis is only aimed at the teacher shortage problem - I think the private sector has more to fear from the £50-an-A level courses currently available.

    Imagine though....

    Two teachers teach classes of 30 kids each. All GCSE. 15 have SEN


    One teacher now resigns, broken, exhausted.

    Panic. £000s spent on TES advertising.

    Time wasted.

    Instead £500 is spent on network license for two courses. Two technicians/minders are employed. Perhaps some new computers - rather like the language labs from yesteryear.

    The 60 kids now split into 5 groups of 12.

    Each group has 1 lesson with a human a week. The other four lessons are online.

    At the press of a button reports are generated and can be sent to parents.

    Massive stress reduction for teacher and pupils. In fact some of the pupils even watch the course at home (instead of private tuition)

    Exams beckon.

    There's enough money left to have 'someone from the board' come down and give a one day seminar OR (better in my view) the one lesson a week becomes two lessons (just for a month) where the entire focus is on exam technique.

    The Head Teacher sees the savings that can be done in other subjects but no-one is made redundant. Simply put, teachers are not replaced.

    Over three years staff are reduced by 30% but at no time do teachers lose, pupils lose - and £000s saved in supply teachers, agency fees, advertisements etc

    The huge difference now, I think, is that ALL pupils are highly tech savvy and would take to this.

    In addition more money and time could be sepnt on social events, community events, sports events i.e. human interaction.

    Instead of the battleground of the classroom, where KS3 and 4 don't really want to be there on Friday period 5, we have individualised learning, and a far more relaxed atmosphere.
  13. dleaf12

    dleaf12 Lead commenter

    So now instead of the Teacher fighting to keep order you have some poor sap of a Technician/minder trying to do so - or at least trying to ensure there are the same number of working computers at the end of the lessns as at the beginning... who chases up the kids who just cant resist checking their Faceache or T*watter accounts instead of doing their assigned work, and who does the MAT CEO blame for the consequent drop in results caused by failure of said pupils to achieve the required level of progress???

    On a slightly less flippant note I read somewhere (but no, cant lay my hands on it now :() an account of a VLE type distance learning environment that an american school district in, I think IlIinois, had experimented with in response to their own teacher shortage. Major hurdles they had to overcome were that only multiple choice style assessment was feasible otherwise the whole marking/feedback loop overloaded, and also discipline (in the time management sense) of the students in doing what was asked of them in the time requested - yes failure to submit = failure to progress, but that wasnt the desired outcome.

    I think I'm a sceptic.
    Moony and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  14. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    Hmmm I suspect that a 15 year old sitting in front of a computer, watching film clips, answering questions, watching animations etc etc etc (all the time wearing headphones) is going to be a lot less disruptive than in a class. PLUS the headphones will mean noise reduction (disturbance reduction) for the others. As far as accessing Fbook...Netnanny etc? At my school they cannot access Youtube - let alone Fbook!

    The Illinois example is interesting. I wonder if there's ever been any research on online versus real person learning? But remember also that there would be small group, tutorial type lessons too and that, surely, would be a plus?
  15. galerider123

    galerider123 Lead commenter

    I don't think that it would actually be as cost effective as you suggest...a lot of computers at £x (replaced every 5 years before the pupils thin that they are completely naff), more computer technicians, someone to supervise the classes that are working with the computers (you weren't thinking of leaving them alone with all that equipment, were you?What would they do if the computers suddenly went down/a child had a seizure/some children had a fight/heaven forbid a pupil actually had a question) and a better server connection for more constant use. And that's just off the top of my head.
    Moony and EmanuelShadrack like this.
  16. EmanuelShadrack

    EmanuelShadrack Star commenter

    I confess I haven't read all your posts in details @Nonentity (due to copious laziness on my part), so perhaps I'm not taking lots of things into account.

    Here's my 2 cents though.

    For self-motivated sufficiently-organized students who can learn e.g. with YouTube videos, well then they can learn with YouTube videos. They might find the online learning of some use. There's hardly any need for such students to be in school anyway.

    For everyone else, I suspect the idea simply wouldn't work.

    In my opinion, it's the kids who don't want to be there who cause the most disruption. Perhaps this is objectively obvious, but I don't want to claim it is. Anyway, if the technological approach results in them being removed, then yes you're immediately going to reduce the discipline problems. It wouldn't be the technology per se that's the saviour, it'd be the power to exclude.

    Furthermore, the excessive workload of teachers is almost completely the result of insane directives and unproven ideologies. Whilst nonsense such as this remains in place, no amount of technological tweaking is going to make much difference.

    I'm all for using technology where it could be useful. However I think you need to deal with the current powerlessness when trying to deal with discipline, and the daft directives from on high, before you even begin to think about how best to deploy something sophisticated.
    JohnJCazorla and Oscillatingass like this.
  17. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I don't think the i phone can do behavior management, or write references, or differentiate for the lad with ADHD, an aversion to yellow, a need for a prompt every 7 minutes, and a trip to Alton towers as a reward at the end of term. Or do break duty, or parents evenings, or plan questioning to meet the current government policies, or assess excuses for not handing in homework, or ring home when Sally is hiding the fact she isn't eating lunch, or monitor the social interactions of James, or be available to smooth over ruffled feathers when the favourite to be the lead in the school pantomime doesn't get it, or to pick up on and challenge homophobic attitudes or answer the spontaneous questions about hurricanes that arise, or reassure children afraid of war with N Korea or settle disputes about the ownership or a green pen, or check students are taking pride in their appearance, or sense that a tutee is particularly downhearted, or administer first aid, or jreferee a football match or take an assembly, or drive the school minibus, or etc etc etc
    chrisonabike, Moony and dleaf12 like this.
  18. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    As far as the computer replacements go...surely without these online courses, computers have to be updated anyway? Plus I am not so sure about this updating. I know of at least one Independent and very expensive school where they use Windows 7 ...to save money.

    Supervision, yes, but if these were set up as a Language Lab, cubicles, headphones, then one supervisor for many? Let's say the class of 30 I keep referencing, if one teacher can supposedly control them in class then surely with headphones, interesting courses etc there'd be less need?

    IT support, yes, very important but again, 1 person for many?

    Seizure etc...a fight...yes BUT surely with the change to a) technology based learning b) smaller classes c) individualised learning then some of the causes of the problems would be less?

    Better server..yes but - again this is just an example - four teachers (French, History, Geography, Economics) all leave and there are difficulties in finding replacements. £100,000 + recruitment costs, say, £105,000. Buy some courses say, £10,000 (I have no idea of the network license prices) that leaves £95,000. Enough for technicians/supervisors, server, iPads etc etc plus behaviour problems less...and so on
  19. jubilee

    jubilee Star commenter

    How would the on-line tuition differentiate for the various ability levels from Gifted to special needs?

    Australia has education over the airwaves, and the internet, for pupils on isolated ranches. It requires either parents to act as unpaid TAs or for the family to employ an au pair or similar to manage the children's learning. It's a much more expensive system per pupil than Australia's traditional school system.
  20. Nonentity

    Nonentity New commenter

    The kids who don't want to be there are also - in various degrees - tech savvy. Depending on the quality of the courses, might they be more interested in sitting watching something then answering questions etc than sitting in class? Than sitting in a crowded, dim classroom where the powerpoint-obsessed teacher is trying to get them to highlight some notes? Or where 5 of the class arrived late owing to games, and 4 are behind the others but five are held back....

    Workload increases also with size of class. If for one lesson a week (per group) you're going through ONE piece of homework, questioning, developing, discussing rather than the same quantity (but not quality) of work with very little discussion. I am writing this whilst watching Educating Greater Manchester. The energy of the teachers - the common use of the word 'exhausting'. My suggestion is that the energy for behaviour management would be far less.

    Discipline problems, I suggest (I don't KNOW, I am just discussing) would be less. Also pupil information, allowing more planning, control even, would be far greater. As I said in an earlier post, one case study from a school who use products from a company, talks about the hundreds of hours saved.

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