Strategy to make teaching more attractive includes drive to increase flexible working
Schools in England will no longer be punished for failing to meet the government’s standards in national exams or tests, Damian Hinds will announce as part of a new strategy to attract and retain teachers in the profession.
The proposals to be unveiled by the education secretary means schools will not be defined as failing or “coasting” based on results of national tests or GCSE exams, removing a burden of assessment that has been criticised for unfairly hitting schools with challenging pupil intakes.
Instead, only Ofsted inspection results are to be used in future as a trigger for intervention in schools such as a change in management – a decision welcomed by school leaders as removing the assessment double jeopardy that many faced.
“Floor and coasting standards added unnecessary stress and uncertainty without ever helping the process of school improvement. School leaders will be pleased to see the back of them,” said Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, which has long campaigned against them.
The move is part of a package designed to make teaching more attractive, including efforts to increase flexible working and job-sharing, announced by Hinds in the Guardian last week, while also cutting workload in areas such as marking, data collection and lesson planning.
The new measures include an “early careers framework”, designed to support newly qualified teachers at the beginning of their career, a time when a substantial number drop out of the profession.
Under the framework, new teachers will receive a two-year package of training and support at the start of their career, including a reduced teaching timetable to continue their training. The Department for Education said the framework would be backed by £130m in annual funding when fully operational.
“Those who choose to become teachers choose to do so to inspire young people, support their development and set them up for a bright future – not stay late in the office filling in a spreadsheet,” Hinds said. “This ambitious strategy commits to supporting teachers – particularly those at the start of their career – to focus on what actually matters, the pupils in their classrooms.
“In a competitive graduate labour market, we must continue to ensure that teaching is an attractive profession so we can train and retain the next generation of inspirational teachers.”
But Angela Rayner, Labour’s shadow education secretary, said the government’s own policies had created the crisis, with record numbers of experienced teachers now leaving the profession.
“Nothing in this strategy will reverse years of real-terms pay cuts and the huge cuts to school budgets that have made it impossible for schools to recruit the staff they need,” Rayner said, reiterating Labour’s pledge to reintroduce a national education service.
The strategy includes some retention-based payments for those who remain past the early stages, with additional bursary payments throughout the first years of their career. The DfE said the priorities for the strategy had been decided in consultation with leading education unions, who had agreed to help schools implement the strategy.
It comes as secondary schools in England have an urgent need to recruit and retain teachers. The number of secondary school pupils is forecast to rise by 15% during the next decade, according to the National Foundation for Educational Research, while the government has missed its recruitment targets for trainees over the last six years, especially in key subjects such as maths, modern foreign languages and physics.
Carole Willis, the NFER’s chief executive, said her organisation fully supported the new policies, especially the efforts to improve retention.
“We would just issue a note of caution,” she said. “Is the pace of implementation proposed fast enough to deliver what is needed as pupil numbers in secondary schools continue to rise, and will sufficient funding be made available for delivery of the proposals outlined?
“It is clear we need to encourage more teachers to stay, and offer those who have left teaching the prospect of an exciting, rewarding and manageable career that they want to return to.”
- Source: The Guardian