Preliminary Manifesto for Education GE2015

Recently, there has been much thinking about how to make changes in the UK education system after the next General Election. My own view is that workload is an issue that needs to be confronted as soon as possible, because the effects of too high a workload are numerous and very negative. The main cause of this workload issue is, in my opinion, the current high stakes accountability system. Therefore, here is a preliminary manifesto for implementation after the next General Election…..(it is preliminary)…..



6 thoughts on “Preliminary Manifesto for Education GE2015

  1. J

    AIM: To stabilise the education system which is subject to rapid levels of change (for child, staff, parent, taxpayer).

    Customer/recipient – child (parent as advocate; research correlates involvement with academic success)
    Provider –teachers, SLT (GB/HT), with team of TAs, break supervisors, ed psychs, etc. Make sure schools are adequately staffed to allow for assessment/marking/feedback to pupils.
    Commodity – knowledge/skills, socialisation, citizenship (aka curriculum, modelled behaviour, etc)
    Clarity of Purpose –provider to deliver commodity to customer ensuring value for money
    Value for money – measure knowledge (tests/exams), monitor citizenship/socialisation (i.e. behaviour, bullying, community engagement locally and globally)
    High Stakes Accountability – recognise SLT (GB/HT), Councils, SoS/Govt, alongside Ofsted, League tables (i.e. where is there vested interest in hiding failings or inadequacies in a system that does not value learning from its mistakes).

    Workload – to reduce workload and deliver an effective system:
    Measure workload in a stable curriculum (or factor in changing conditions) for a baseline to compare whether future changes improve or worsen a) quantity b) effectiveness
    Agree the purpose of education to identify curriculum and workload necessary to carry this out.
    Recognise workloads of professionals are not equal (experience, personal standards, health).
    Recognise that marking/feedback enables assessment and progress (setting homestudies I dread the marking but also know most effective method I have found to monitor understanding and development, and reflect it to child).
    Recognise and factor in parent ‘x’ factor to establish value for money (do any schools survey parents to ask if parents supplement child’s learning or pay a tutor to do it – in primaries I suspect a strong correlation with parents who do and KS1/2 grades).
    SLT – introducing a work-life balance policy would become a GB issue to ensure it is upheld, so GB would need to understand workload and implement improvements in the school.

    Suspend 1&2. Parents across the country break out in hives! I question suspending Ofsted. Gap becomes covered by GBs? Do GBs have adequate time, appropriate experience and oversight of operational matters in state-maintained schools to hold the HT accountable if you suspend Ofsted? [Not in our school.]

    Ofsted stays as a ‘critical friend’ and is reformed as part of the whole system (or replaced with something better once it can function).

    Ofsted Inspectors employed directly, trained and managed in-house, given clear remit, carry out an effective rolling programme of 1-day inspections, listen more to parents (many of whom will have regular daily contact with schools), and work more with GBs to ensure they are carrying out appropriate oversight .

    PRP – agreed.
    Did you see the NUT 8-step programme for SoS
    1. Reform Accountability so based on trust
    2. Reform Assessment/Feedback [both teacher/pupil] (marking, planning, data, meetings, obs)
    3. Review schedule for Curriculum & SEN Reform
    4. Reform teacher pay system
    5. Work-life balance policy
    6.Measure workload annually
    7.[Presumably] a year later and ongoing review how to reduce workload and introduce workload limits
    8. Increase teacher numbers to improve education.

    1. chemistrypoet Post author

      Thank you for your reply. If don’t pause/suspend Ofsted, system will collapse – workload. I don’t think workload can be addressed without removing high stakes (Ofsted inspection, League Tables); so suspend them. Then work through what we want from the system. Not an excuse for schools to give up for a few years, though….but want them involved in the re-forming process.

  2. J

    Based on discussions with father and other teachers it seems first marking, then prepwork are the biggest parts of workload, after delivering the subject directly to the pupil. To truly tackle the workload it is key to understand marking/assessments/progress reviews, but remembering that the system exists not to serve teachers, but to educate children in a safe environment.

    Class sizes – key issue with regard to managing workload . Teachers mark/assess per head not per sessions that they teach. Some classes will carry higher numbers of children with more involved needs (with or without an SEN statement). Teachers delivering to widely varied ability groups in primary feel the stretch (and across EYF/KS1/KS2). Ergo smaller classes and more teachers. Reducing the marking/assessment rather than class sizes benefits providers but I don’t believe it benefits the learning achieved by children. This is a partisan SoS issue. It needs to be an independent body’s decision.

    Teacher’s personal workload – even with the same number of pupils and sessions teachers won’t carry the same workload as a result of experience, personal standards, life issues. Some teachers are simply willing and able to do more, and they often have the workload of others who can’t or don’t added to their workload. Once you deal with class sizes this is a management HR/budget issue.

    Curriculum – gaming the curriculum and the measurement of its delivery seems to be deep-rooted now. Children are taught to the question/test in many classrooms. Which means the workload people are groaning under is not even delivering the full syllabus. Both need to be factored in for improvement when reforming. HTs/teachers need to come clean on how extensive this practice is. To reform we have to be honest about the current failings in all areas of the system (period of amnesty). Then a system can be built that delivers a good education. Curriculum needs to be an independent education body issue. Management need to be transparent on how they achieve current outcomes. [parent as x factor]

    Ofsted – exists to check on delivery of learning, behaviour, safeguarding children (I believe). Suspending this even temporarily is a mistake. The inspections need to continue. I agree the ‘high stakes’ element needs to be removed. I think a temporary pass/fail criteria is still needed to cover an agreed minimum on progress, behaviour, safeguarding while reform happens. The pass/fail could remain if standard is raised for all, i.e. why can parents expect a whole level of progress more for children in outstanding schools (not about ability)? Raise progress across the country.

    Education Review for Reform – use Ofsted as an existing body with established networks to roll out a programme over two years. Provide intense training to inspectors to visit and report on every school with the aim of creating a full education picture (primary, secondary, tertiary (non university)). Good inspectors should be able to manage jittery SLTs and start to promote a supportive approach to reforming education.
    Ofsted – needs to be independent from SoS. Education needs an independent stable body that is not at the whim of careerist politicians.

    Forgive me, but it seems to me that weak SLTs have also helped create the current workload problems, and the teacher-Ofsted stand-off. I have issues with Ofsted as a parent. I also have issues with teachers – I wouldn’t suggest we suspend unprofessional teachers who put unnecessary pressure on primary school children over their SAT progress (likely to worsen with PRP). I suggest we (inspectors, GBs, HTs, teachers, staff, parents) all need to take a moment, breathe and resume a professional approach. Strong leadership is seriously important during periods of transition, and reform requires a steady hand. It also requires collaboration, communication, etc.

    Reform needs to recognise the aim (if it is), to educate children to a high standard for 14yrs in a safe environment. To do that it needs to be able to hold onto its providers to succeed.

    1. chemistrypoet Post author

      Great set of comments.

      My view is that workload is threatening the educational endeavour, and this will get worse as teachers have increased opportunities to leave teaching as the economy picks up. I don’t think we can fix this particular aeroplane whilst it is in flight. Workload is currently driven by Ofsted, which now has a too prominent effect on schools (I do agree, SLT could have resisted more, but, structurally I have sympathy – Ofsted is so dominant). So, Ofsted inspection needs to stop for 1-2 years (could introduce a safety net, but I don’t really like this), whilst a serious review of what we really need for accountability takes place (meanwhile schools could concentrate on the new curriculum and CPD). [I agree that we need a system where teaching to the test doesn’t happen to the extent that it does now].

      I don’t think we can have a serious review against the current backdrop. We need to suspend Ofsted’s influence, League Tables and PRP, for the duration of the review of education.

      And then we need to decide how the review should be carried out…..

  3. Pingback: Election 2015 | chemistrypoet

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