Hands Off Our Schools
More information on the funding cuts can be found here
London schools, often regarded as the pride of education in this country and internationally, now face their budgets falling dramatically over the next five years. Recently, the Chancellor George Osborne announced that education funding would be frozen despite a considerable increase in student numbers and related costs. In addition, he announced a new national funding formula from 2017. Up to now schools’ spending has been safeguarded in recognition of the need to invest in our children’s future. London schools and their teachers have ably responded to the challenge. Yet changes in the way school budgets are calculated will have a disproportionate negative impact on London schools. Inner London would be the hardest hit with a budget cut of 9.3%, (equivalent to £575 per pupil) compared to a 4.8% cut across London. Everyone would agree that all children should be able to go to properly funded schools. But this should not be to the detriment of London children.
BYE BYE Baseline
The DfE announced last week another U-turn in assessment policy. Baseline Assessment of reception children has been abandoned as an accountability measure.
This is a victory for the campaign which brought together the NUT, the ATL, early years organisations and parents' groups. The last 12 months of petitions, street stalls, research and argument have produced a great result, which will benefit teachers and pupils alike.
The private companies which sold Baseline Assessment systems to schools will now be trying to persuade teachers to carry on using their tests and observation schedules, on a voluntary basis. The Union believes that there is no good reason for schools to do this. Research from the UCL Institute of Education, commissioned by the NUT and ATL, showed that over 90 per cent of teachers did not think Baseline Assessment was a fair and accurate way of assessing children. Teachers emphasised that they already had a well-proven method to hand, the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.
The DfE is now "considering options for improving assessment arrangements", through discussion with stakeholders. The Union welcomes the opportunity to participate in such discussions. We believe in developing forms of assessment which support children's learning needs. Baseline Assessment, with its focus on school accountability, was an entirely inappropriate means of doing this, and the confusion of accountability and assessment must not be repeated.
Teachers and parents who are angry and dismayed at the fiasco of assessment at KS1 and KS2 will take heart from the Government's U-turn on Baseline. There is wide support for a movement against primary testing, which the Union is now working to build.
For more information go to www.teachers.org.uk/campaigns/baseline.
Joining Junior Doctors on the Picket Line
Islington members join sixth form college reps and activists outside NUT HQ
EIGHT STEPS NICKY MORGAN SHOULD TAKE:
Nicky Morgan says she wants to make a difference on teacher workload and has asked for suggestions. This is what the NUT thinks she should do to really make a difference:
ü Reform accountability so it is based on trust
One of the fundamental drivers of excessive working hours is an accountability system that does not trust teachers. All levels of accountability should be reformed so that they are based on trust, respectful professional dialogue and proportionality. Necessarily this means the replacement of Ofsted/Estyn by a new school accountability system.
ü Introduce fundamental change on requirements relating to marking, planning, data, meetings and observations
Pending an accountability review, the Westminster and Wales Governments must take immediate action. All schools should be encouraged to reduce workload, including by abiding by the recent Ofsted clarifications. Estyn should issue a similar document without delay. Schools should not require teachers to:
i) use marking schemes which generate written dialogue between them and their pupils;
ii) provide evidence of the work that they do, outside that which arises naturally; and
iii) produce detailed lesson plans or hand them in.
Furthermore, schools should follow Ofsted’s own practice and desist from grading lesson observations, nor should they carry out more than 3 observations per year, except in cases of concern.
The Westminster and Wales Governments should write to schools to encourage them to reduce data collection demands, to limit after-school meetings and to promulgate agreed best practice, including around peer observations.
ü Allow time for curriculum and SEN reform
The Government should announce additional non-teaching days to allow teachers in England to prepare for the rushed curriculum and SEN changes and in future should plan such changes in consultation with the teacher organisations and over a longer period.
ü Reform the teacher pay system
The introduction of performance related pay has led to an increase in bureaucracy and working hours. The Government should:
i) announce a moratorium on linking pay to performance on the main scale whilst negotiations on a national pay system take place;
ii) remind schools that teachers on the upper scale do not have extra responsibilities - they have the same set of statutory duties as main scale teachers; and
iii) confirm that Ofsted/Estyn will not comment on pay policies.
ü Require schools to adopt a binding work-life balance policy
All schools should adopt a binding work-life balance policy. This policy should make clear that schools must have a proper regard for teachers’ legitimate expectations of a healthy balance between work and other commitments and be clear that if there is a new initiative which takes teacher time then something teachers currently do has to be dropped.
ü Measure workload every year
The workload diary survey of teacher hours should run annually, supervised by a panel drawn from the DFE and teacher unions. Michael Gove didn't run the survey in 2011 or 2012 and the 2013 findings showed huge increases in working hours over this period. Future surveys should cover England and Wales.
ü Set targets to reduce workload and introduce limits
The Government should adopt an immediate target for a reduction in teacher working hours across England and Wales and begin the phased introduction of binding limits on teacher working time. The last workload diary survey for England showed primary teachers working nearly 60 hours per week on average and secondary teachers almost 56 hours. Head teachers’ working hours were even higher.
ü Increase teacher numbers to improve education
Education would be improved by increasing the number of teachers. This would permit increased time for collaboration between teachers and the provision of more time within the school day for planning, preparation and assessment and would allow smaller classes and more individual support for children.
What do we want.....
A qualified teacher for every child in every lesson Allow councils to open new schools where they are needed Consult the profession properly on changes to the curriculum and to examinations Don’t test the very youngest Fund schools and colleges properly Remove excessive workload and pointless bureaucracy End performance related pay for teachers Reverse unfair pension changes Ensure government/union talks are about policies rather than just their implementation Make sure we have enough teachers
Read NUT EduFacts
As never before, education policy is being driven by ideology not evidence. Every government announcement is laden with myths about schools, teachers and our education system.
EduFacts - http://www.teachers.org.uk/edufacts - aims to challenge government and media rhetoric by presenting the facts about what's going on in our schools, our education system and in the teaching profession.