Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

FREEING TEACHERS TO TEACH IS KEY TO DELIVERING TAILOR-MADE LEARNING FOR EVERY CHILD - CLARKE

  • Comment
Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke said today that freeing ...
Education and skills secretary Charles Clarke said today that freeing

teachers to teach, through historic reform of the way teachers and

support staff work in schools, is key to delivering the government's

major education goal - tailor-made learning for every child.

Speaking at a conference in London to mark the six-month anniversary

of a new national agreement to reform the way teachers and support

staff work, Mr Clarke said:

'Our goal is to give every pupil the individual attention they need

to fulfil their potential. We can't do this without radical reform of

the school workforce. We have to free teachers to teach and give

support staff a bigger role. Then every child can get the tailor-made

learning they need to make the most of themselves.

Mr Clarke set out a three-year programme of reform, starting this

September, which will mean more support for teachers in the classroom

to focus on each child.

From 1 September:

- no teacher can be required routinely to undertake clerical and

administrative tasks

- provision must be made for teachers and head teachers to enjoy a

reasonable work/life balance

- teachers with management and leadership responsibilities will be

entitled to a reasonable allocation of time within school sessions

to support the discharge of their responsibilities

From September 2004:

- A limit will be placed on the number of hours that a teacher can be

required to cover for absent colleagues. This will be set at 38

hours a year.

- From September 2005:

- All teachers will be given guaranteed time within the school day

for planning preparation and assessment. This should be a minimum

of 10% of their teaching time. Head teachers will have dedicated

time to lead their schools.

In addition, new regulations have been laid before Parliament that

will enable support staff to play a greater role in supporting

teaching and learning in the classroom, under the direction and

supervision of a qualified teacher.

Mr Clarke also praised the constructive way in which the trade unions

who have signed the national agreement have worked with the

government to bring in changes:

'This is the sort of trade unionism I want to do business with.

Grown-up, forward-looking progressive trade unionism. Trade unionism

that is focussed on the big issues and how we solve them. Trade

unionism that delivers results.

'I value this new relationship. I value our partnership.

'I have no time at all for the sort of militant opportunism that some

people still cling to. There are no minority vetoes and old style

vested interests will not stop us from delivering change for the

better. I think that the old time religion has had its day.'

Notes

1. The conference was held in London

with the school workforce unions that have signed the agreement. Also

attending were staff from a variety of schools across the country,

representatives from LEAs and members of the national remodelling

team, which is developing a network of support for schoolsin

remodelling the school workforce.

2. The signing of 'Raising Standards and Tackling Workload: a

National Agreement', took place on 15 January 2003, between the

government, employers and school workforce unions. The following

organisations signed the agreement: DfES; Welsh Assembly Government;

ATL; GMB; NAHT; NASUWT; NEOST; PAT; SHA; T&G, and UNISON.

3. The following case studies give their examples of workforce

remodelling in action and the benefits that accrue:

A. School: Cassiobury Junior School

Author: Pauline Moss, Deputy Headteacher

School Type: 243 pupils, mixed, junior

Date: June 2003

LEA: Hertfordshire

As a Senior Leadership Team (SLT) we wanted to alleviate the workload

of all staff and weren't short of ideas about how to do that.

However, it wasn't just about dealing with the 24 tasks. We felt that

anything which supported our colleagues was in both their and the

school's best interests.

The two main issues we wanted to address were teachers' paperwork and

the amount of time this involved spending away from the classroom. We

also wanted to try and improve our overall work/life balance.

Having discussed ideas within the SLT, we opened up the discussion to

all staff. Most of all, people wanted more time to collaborate with

their colleagues.

One of our first actions was to implement 'Guaranteed Planning Time'

(GPT). Staff were overwhelmingly appreciative of the opportunity to

complete marking or carry out planning in a regular guaranteed time.

They also welcomed the opportunity to meet advisors and coordinate

their subject more efficiently.

Another initiative was Enrichment Afternoons - collaborations between

assistants, parent volunteers and helpers from the local community to

allow children to experience new activities such as tennis,

bread-making or gardening. While staff agreed that the afternoons had

been very successful we felt that in the future they should focus

more on creative curricular activities.

As a result of our efforts many of the 24 tasks have been addressed.

Teachers have been given GPT throughout the year, all planning is now

on the school network and the school has been accepted as part of a

pilot for an on-line training scheme. Another success was to employ a

Personal Assistant, who carries out a range of tasks, including

standard letter writing, ordering specific resources and bulk

photocopying.

Teachers are now spending less time away from the classroom doing

administration and more time focusing on learning and teaching. In

the coming year we hope to identify a permanent workspace where staff

will be able to carry out planning, continue the Enrichment

Afternoons, further develop the Teaching Assistant role and explore

more ways of reducing teacher workload.

'Staff were overwhelmingly appreciative of the opportunity to

complete marking or carry out planning in a regular guaranteed time.'

B. School: Cirencester Deer Park School

Author: David Carter, Headteacher

School Type: 1,100 pupils, mixed, secondary, technology college,

Pathfinder

Date: June 2003

LEA: Gloucestershire

The biggest issue for us was the length of the average working week.

Teachers were working an average of 52 hours a week, 30 of which were

being spent outside the classroom on other tasks. Our long-term

objective was to lower that average to 45, with teachers spending

more time teaching, in order to further improve our standards.

To identify key school development and workload issues, we set up six

Change Management Teams. Every single adult on the payroll was

invited to take part - and everybody did. It captured the imagination

of the whole school staff and brought everyone together on an equal

basis. I presented six areas taken from our School Improvement Plan

and asked everybody which they'd like to work on: homework, ICT, the

school day, extra-curricular activities, the classroom of the future

or supporting learning.

It became apparent that there were a number of jobs which took

teachers away from teaching and learning. We carried out a

mini-evaluation of what people were actually doing and decided to

abandon some of the tasks which didn't have a long-term benefit in

the classroom. This reduced workload and created space, releasing

support staff to work in other areas, such as providing secretarial

help for Heads of Faculties.

We also found that a lot of time was being spent putting up displays.

One of our learning assistants became entirely responsible for this,

thus allowing teachers to focus on teaching whilst also improving the

quality of display.

We already had a no-cover policy and have put in place a Faculty of

Support as a permanent supply team to guarantee th at teachers keep

their free periods.

For us, remodelling was always about sustainable change - our first

tranche of ideas is in place for September 2003, when teachers will

be working an average of four hours less per week and the role of

support staff enhanced throughout the school.

'The Change Process captured the imagination of the whole school

staff and brought everyone together.'

C. School: Kemnal Technology College

Author: John Atkins, Headteacher

School Type: 1,150 pupils, boys, secondary, technology college

Date: June 2003

LEA: Bromley

Between 1990 and 2002 Kemnal went from being a failing school to one

of the most improved schools in the country, but we didn't want to

stop there. We asked three questions: how do we further improve

teaching and learning? How do we reduce teacher workload? How do we

address the teacher shortage? Our conclusion was that we had to

remodel the workforce.

ICT played a major role - we put interactive whiteboards (IWBs) in

each classroom, connected to the teacher's laptop and the internet so

lessons could be kept on a shared drive. We introduced a 'Virtual

Learning Environment' so students could access lessons, homework and

other resources from home. From September, parents will also be able

to access key information.

We are now a no-cover school thanks to coversupervisors who are

trained by the college and who download pre-prepared lessons from our

shared drive. To allow teachers to focus on teaching we have

transferred all administrative tasks to other staff.

In the future we will continue to explore more effective ways of

grouping pupils with enhanced roles for support staff, who already

call the register, give out equipment and do some of the marking. We

have appointed two classroom assistants to support students in Year 9

to raise their SAT levels in core subjects.

Our meetings cycle is a maximum of one meeting a week, no longer than

an h our and always focused on improving teaching and learning. For

the past three years we have had our six Parent Consultations during

the day, improving staff and parent attendance. We also now use

detailed baseline data to track the progress of each student.

Traditional staffing structures have been challenged as we remodel

our workforce. We are convinced that the changes we have already made

will result in improving standards and also impact on recruitment and

retention. A major contribution has been made by our Performance

Management system which provides challenge and support for the whole

school staff.

'Traditional staffing structures have been challenged as we remodel

our workforce.'

D. School: Newton Farm Nursery, First and Middle School

Author: Gill Bland, Maths and PE Coordinator

Type: 308 pupils, mixed, nursery, first and middle, Pathfinder

Date: June 2003

LEA: Harrow

Our immediate aim was to reduce workload, whilst still improving the

quality of education and culture of learning for the children. We

needed to find ways of allowing teachers to concentrate on teaching

and to do this we had to consider how we used existing resources. We

focused on the role of Teaching Assistants (TAs) and our use of ICT.

We formed a Change Management Group made up of a cross-section of

staff from across the school including teachers, assistants, School

Meal Supervisory Assistants and a governor. Our starting points were:

to involve all staff, consider all possibilities, keep positive,

ignore anything that might stop the change and to research other

Pathfinder schools.

One of the first things to make an impact was the introduction of

laptops and interactive whiteboards which not only made many daily

tasks much easier, but helped revolutionise our teaching. We

dedicated an INSET session to focus on the revised role of TAs. This

session built confidence and helped bond the whole school staff.

These cha nges helped teachers get back in the classroom to

concentrate more on the children and their learning. As a result,

staff are more energised and relaxed.

The only resource we had failed to tap, however, was the children

themselves. But talking to classes about the Pathfinder project they

were really fired-up and energised, and once the ideas started coming

they didn't stop.

As a teacher, I found the most difficult part of the Pathfinder

process was letting go of the hundreds of non-teaching tasks I had

been doing for 27 years. But this path has been worthwhile and full

of exceptional results for the class and school. My teaching is now

more focused on learning with more creativity and risk-taking. My

time is only being used for the children. With this renewed passion

for my vocation who knows what the future will hold?

'I found the most difficult part of the process was letting go of the

hundreds of non-teaching tasks I had been doing.'

E. School: St Anthony's School

Author: Toby Salt, Headteacher

School Type: 170 pupils, special school for children aged between 4

and 16 with a wide range of complex learning difficulties, Pathfinder

Date: June 2003

LEA: West Sussex

Our aim was to become a special school for the 21st century which

meant engaging more with the local community and offering increased

support to mainstream schools. However, since we deal with pupils

with highly complex needs, we simply didn't have the resources to

take on more responsibilities.

Areas to address included developing the 'Associate Teacher' (AT)

role, allowing teaching staff to focus more on teaching and learning,

and managing the large number of enquiries and visitors better. We

also wanted to use ICT more effectively.

We started the process with a brainstorming conference attended by

all staff and governors where we considered how staff could spend

their time most efficiently and where we needed additional adm in

support to allow teachers to focus on teaching. We were also keen to

harness the enthusiasm of the younger members of staff by developing

a career structure for those who did not want to become qualified

teachers - hence the AT role.

We didn't have a Change Management Team as such, because staff felt

they already had an effective communications system and wanted to

avoid additional meetings and paperwork. However, we agreed that the

change process had to be an integral part of the School Development

Plan.

We achieved a great deal: we rearranged our use of space to include a

new reception area and meeting space, and hired a receptionist to

deal with visitors, enquiries and a lot of the admin. We also

extended our use of ICT, introducing a campus-wide intranet and

bringing in a part-time technician. We then delegated

responsibilities such as agency liaison and paramedical care to our

new ATs as well as handing over non-teaching tasks to three new

Teaching Assistants.

The pupil-adult ratio has now improved in the school and this, along

with the ICT investment, has reduced our teachers' workload. We took

some radical decisions and we are determined to see them all through.

In addition to meeting the increased pressure to work more with

mainstream schools, we have enabled our teachers to develop more

effective teaching styles, focused on individual pupils' needs.

'We have enabled our teachers to develop more effective teaching

styles, focused on individual pupils' needs.'

F. School: St Peter's Roman Catholic High Schooland

Sixth Form Centre

Author: Tony Chesson, Assistant Headteacher

School type: 1,500 pupils, mixed, secondary

Date: June 2003

LEA: Gloucestershire

The catalyst for our remodelling was the National Agreement and the

24 tasks, although we had already been thinking about supplying more

support because our teachers were spending too much time on

administrative tasks.

W e had previously addressed some of the issues, including using

external invigilators for exams, reducing staff cover and having a

reprographic technician for bulk photocopying.

Following staff consultation our initial focus was on dealing with

issues such as handling money for trips, collecting reply slips and

chasing absence. In looking at these areas we needed to consider how

we were using our existing support staff.

We have built a strong team of support staff with clearly defined

roles, for example, supporting particular year groups. They are

organised by a dedicated Support Administrator and have taken on

tasks such as copy-typing, minuting meetings, record keeping and

filing. We have regular support staff meetings which generate a

strong sense of teamwork and we are now looking at how support and

admin staff can become more involved in display work, stocktaking and

ordering.

The process has been very open and everybody feels involved. Although

our teachers are still doing a lot of hours, they are now taking much

less work home and we are hoping to reduce their hours further. The

whole process has been very positive and has generated a real team

feeling and a willingness to try things.

'Although our teachers are still doing a lot of hours, they are now

taking much less work home.'

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.