Over the past few weeks ASCL has commented upon on a number of reports and conversations hinting that the Department of Education is listening, that there is greater consultation with our profession’s representatives, leaders and teachers and also hints at some refreshing #joinedupthinking of workforce issues.
Most notably, the House of Commons Education Select Committee have made urgent recommendations to end totemic “single-word judgements” of inspections. Such judgements are considered too “reductive or simplistic,” significantly raising the high-stakes experience of inspection by schools, leaders and teacher. Their recommendations go further still, calling for inspections to be “fairer and less punitive,” and recognised the weight of work inspections call for.
I often wonder if the removal of overall graded school judgements would encourage greater collaboration between schools, as the removal graded lesson observation judgements arguably encouraged greater collaboration between teachers, no longer tagged by a unreliable teaching performance grade. Would removing the notion of “Outstanding” as a destination, for both schools, as it has teachers, encourage greater self-reflective, honest self-appraisal and promote growth within the system?
Will Chief Inspector, Sir Martyn Oliver, be bold enough to finally release schools from “reductist and over simplified” overall graded judgements? Will we see inspections making the effort to recognise a school’s circumstances and the unique challenges they face? Will we have a strategy and the compassion to ensure that schools that need support, are matched with schools that have the capacity to provide it? First, can such system-led reform (along with the removal or PRP) encourage teachers to keep teaching, and second, encourage teachers to support the system? Will any proposed changes be incremental and support sustained adoption?
A Second examples is that the government has announced a new combined and updated initial teacher training and early career framework. Part of that announcement highlights a strengthened focus on teaching pupils with special educational needs and latterly, Schools Minister Damian Hinds, acknowledged that mentor workload is too high.
And finally, third, The Workload Reduction Taskforce has agreed 18 initial recommendations including an end to performance-related pay (PRP) and a new list of banned admin tasks – a committment to reducing the average working hours for teachers and schools leaders by five hours per week within three years. Let’s connect that the future iteration of EIF.
There are concerns that PRP works poorly in practice and does not have a commensurate positive impact on teaching and learning.
We will have to wait until March to hear their final recommendations. Let’s hope that what replaces PRP recognises the values and drivers of the profession, and reduce workload.