Spending cuts: how much do they know?

I’m running a series of briefings for teachers about the future of our services and what they need to be doing right now. We were about to launch a really exciting new phase of projects in school but of course, this has now been changed and we’re still waiting to see what the replacement will look like.

Sprinkle liberally

 I planned to talk about these changes and link them to the wider picture in education by talking about the white paper. I had an emergency PowerPoint on the white paper courtesy if the DfE but I thought the teachers would know what was in it and I’d only need to chat briefly about it.

 Wrong.

 ‘So who’s read the white paper then,’ I asked cheerily.

 Silence.

 ‘Who knows the things in the white paper that will affect your day to day working life?’

 A tumbleweed rolled by.

 So I spent more time than I intended on informing the group about the white paper and how it will affect their schools: changes in behaviour management, a greater focus on bullying and synthetic phonics (luckily the two are not inter-related), exclusions, academies and free schools. Their head teachers are probably well-informed but sometimes the infromation doesn’t always filter down to the class teachers.

 The other aspect of the changes they weren’t entirely aware of were the cuts in local authority staff. My lot know that my post has been deleted but I don’t think they yet realise the implications of this. When they need me they pick up the phone and ask or drop me e-mail and I help to the best of my abilities. It’s my job.

 A head teacher phoned me this morning and explained that some of her parents were very anxious about a certain policy the school had just redeveloped and how she wasn’t sure what to do.

 ‘Would you like me to come and run a workshop for your parents?’ I said.

 ‘You’ve just sprinkled magic fairy dust over my day!’ she replied.

 I think this means she was pleased. And it solves everyone’s problems: the parents are reassured and informed, the staff can get back to teaching and I’ve got the knowledge at my fingertips to run sessions like these.

 It will be interesting to see how schools react when they don’t have the support of staff  whose job it is to translate government policy, share their expertise with schools and be there for them. Sometimes just for a chat and a bit of support and maybe to sprinkle a little fairy dust on someone’s day.

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Name, rank and serial number

The business plan for the Department for Education  (DfE) has been published and it makes for interesting reading.

 The overall aims are well meaning but alarm bells started ringing for me at various points. The DfE will, ‘reform the school curriculum and qualifications.’

The curriculum needs regular tweaks and occasional overhauling to ensure that it meets the needs of pupils but I’m anxious about this one. Any major change to curriculum means schools will have to rewrite policies and plans, be trained in delivering the new curriculum and buy the required resources. A new exciting curriculum was set and ready to go under the previous administration but the baby and the bath water have gone out of the window and it looks like this government will be looking to the US for inspiration. Because we don’t have any inspirational educators here, right?

 There’s also a section on reviewing and reforming provision for children with special educational needs and if they don’t rope in Guerilla Mum to help with this, then they’re missing a trick.

 The rest of the document looks interesting and I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress.

 There is a section on transparency, however that makes for interesting reading. As several newspapers have picked up, schools will be expected to publish teachers’ pay, qualifications and absences.

 Will parents withdraw their children from a school because Mr. X has a few days off with a cold every January or Mrs. Y was off having a hysterectomy last year?

 Will little Johnny learn better from a teacher with a teaching degree or a subject-specific degree plus a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education)?

 Who’s the best Maths teacher? Her with the degree from Oxbridge and two years’ experience or him who went to the Poly and has twenty years’ experience?

 Perhaps there will have be a point system and if the teacher falls below a certain level they get shipped off to Shankem Comprehensive, the sink school for rubbish teacher and kids whose parents have too much going on in their lives to care much about parental choice.

 As for teachers’ pay, I’m not sure what this achieves but if teachers have to show their pay packets perhaps all public sector workers will have to. GPs waving their bank statements around? The military offering up name, rank, serial number, gross pay, tax and national insurance?

The prime minister has already humbly offered to accept a reduced pay packet in the name of public service. Which is very considerate. But I expect that most teachers don’t have a personal fortune worth squillions backing them up.

 So in the interest of transparency and to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow educators, here are my qualifications:

MA (school and college leadership and management)

B.Ed (hons 2:1) English and Drama

Grade seven clarinet (pass)

Sixth form French prize (no sniggering at the back.)

Cycling proficiency

Badges from brownies and guides: various including hostess, boatswain and jester.

 Who could possibly pass up a set of qualifications like that?

 Anyone?

 Hello?

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