Empowering School Leaders #HTRT2016

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#HTRT2016 was a fantastic opportunity to test views on three fundamental aspects of our profession. I met and/or listened to some very interesting colleagues with great ideas about how to move things forward including @DrRonaMackenzie @headguruteacher @HelenaMarsh81 @LeadingLearner @RosMcM @McShaneChris @TimLeunig and somebody called Ros who is a Primary head London way who hit the nail on the head with poignant comments regarding accountability.

I thought I’d use my daughter’s swimming lesson as gained time and a chance to try and bring my thoughts together before heading back to school next week.

Accountability

There needs to be a clear separation of assessment and accountability for schools (thanks Ros!). At present we are held to account through assessment data by Ofsted and the DFE and this takes precedent over any other element of what we do as schools. As a result practice is skewed towards trying to improve school performance against a limited set of outcomes.

Personally (in agreement with Ros) I would prefer to be taking account of the Every Child Matters Agenda (or similar updated set of criteria) to take account of educating the whole child and to improve the standard of education beyond attainment data.

It makes little sense to me that the Secretary of State has license to change course on a whim and I like the suggestion made in one of the Accountability groups in the afternoon session that there should be an independent, objective body of experts that is not party political, or constrained by election cycles that can advise the Secretary of State. This would provide us with a much better chance of having an accountability structure that allows schools to focus on the development of all children in a much broader sense. It would also remove the ‘perverse incentive’ which leads some schools to game and ends in some young people receiving an inadequate education in the truest sense.  Has HTRT already secured it’s position as the objective advisory body?

Recruitment and retention

We need to take hold of the curriculum for professional development. In my view this should be a role for the National College. I like the progress we have made with a joined up structure across the NPQ qualifications with logical progression across themes.

I would like to see the National college take responsibility for these, and develop an understanding of the best practice across all existing routes into teaching in order to arrive at a National Curriculum for teacher development. There should be a clear route of progression through ITT, to in school training and on to external provision through the suite of ‘NPQ’ qualifications.

I also think that we should take account of successful elements of each of the main routes into teaching in order to arrive at a preferred model that improves access for prospective teachers through remuneration, and increases the reality check needed for developing teachers to make a decision about whether or not this is the right career for them.

I would like to see the teacher practice element of Teach First incorporated so that we can make use of salaried trainees as a timetable resource as a way of neutralising the cost, and enhancing the ‘real’ element of the experience. I would like to see school involvement in recruitment giving us the opportunity to test whether or not we are the right school for the prospective candidate, and enabling the candidate to make a more informed decision about what they are entering into.  In my view, this has worked well in School Direct recruitment.

For retention purposes, school leaders absolutely must address the #workloadchallenge and make sure we are not crushing teachers with unachievable expectations.  It has to be ok to be part of a family and work in a school.  The reality is that for some colleagues school and life have become mutually exclusive and that’s why we have lost them.

Structures

I’m still reeling from the ludicrous uncertainty around forced academisation and feel that even contemplating this is futile at present. We need clear guidance from the DFE, along with a proper exploration of the financial viability of remaining LA’s, along with better information about financial viability for all schools whether they are entering into MATs or clinging on in LA’s. We need to know just how much we are going to lose through the National Funding Formula before we can do any of this with any validity.

Over the course of the day I felt heartened that I am not a philosophical tangent from this group. More importantly I grew in confidence that HTRT have strong ideas which represent the views of a significant number of school leaders. I am reassured also that HTRT are realists and have thought very carefully about tactical negotiation and influence. It was also good to see the DFE in an adaptive, responsive light.

I feel much more as though we might actually have a chance of working together to develop the education system all our children deserve.

Empowering School Leaders #HTRT2016