Issues for McCormac Review

Please note this is not a response to the Review but a series of issues or comments members may wish to use when writing their own submission.   Details on how to make a submission can be found at http://www.scotland.gov.uk/About/reviewofteacheremployment

1.       Decision making by the Committee

The Association has huge concerns that many of the potential outcomes of the review are already appearing in LA budgets, particularly those authorities which produce 2 or 3 year budgets.

In addition the lack of a practicing teacher on the panel is a matter of huge concern to teachers across Scotland.

2. Workload and Collegiality

Teachers broadly welcomed the 35 hr working week because it recognised the fact that they work much longer hours than the pupil day suggests. In 2007 members of the SNCT openly discussed the ‘fact’ that teachers need to work in excess of 45 hours just to keep up with the essential work their duties entail. Since then the introduction of CfE, with no resources and no additional preparation time has resulted in an enormous increase in workload, with many teachers now working some 50 – 65 hours every week.

We would point out that teachers are paid for 35 hours of work every week. Any additional working time is voluntary. It is wholly unacceptable that our educational system is reliant on the goodwill of staff to the extent of between 400 and 1200 hours every year.

Maintain preparation and correction time remembering that throughout Europe most teachers have more.

Collegiality

Joint chairs of the SNCT issued guidance on Collegiality and the necessity of collegiate working in every school.

The SNCT gives clear guidance on Collegiality. “Good practice prevails in schools where a collegiate approach to planning is promoted and firmly set within the context of the 35 hr working week. Staff should be encouraged to monitor and audit their own workload and to raise concerns if and when these arise. WTAs should be agreed between the Headteacher and teacher representatives and failure to agree, if any, should be referred to LNCT Joint Secretaries. Such discussions at school level should be led by the Headteacher”

Unfortunately this has been largely ignored by Headteachers and collegiality remains, for some, a dream.

3. TP 21 – Annex E

This is just one example of the provisions in TP 21 ignored by employers to the detriment of all teaching staff.

Funding for classroom assistants was frequently used for other purposes, e.g. to upgrade the salaries of staff affected by the single status agreement. Some local authorities used the funding to employ classroom assistants but many did not. Even those who did have since allowed the numbers to drop by natural wastage or redundancy and teachers are, once again, shouldering the burden of all admin duties listed in annex E.

4. Overload of New Initiatives

Increase of expectation but no attempts to support or sustain increased workload.

New initiatives should be demonstrated as beneficial to Learning and Teaching but this is almost never the purpose of new initiatives.

Cfe, Aifl, Co-operative learning, changes to assessment procedures, change of course options and changes to certification have all taken place within the last 5 years. Before then we had the introduction of Higher Still in 1999 with disastrous results in the 2000 exam diet. Every time a new initiative is planned teachers views are ignored then they are forced to take the blame. We know how education works, it’s our bread and butter, and we know which changes are needed and how to implement them. It really is about time that the experts were given a voice, and listened to.

Teachers are constantly instructed to work on new initiatives with experimental recording and reporting techniques, changes to procedures and to management structure regularly implemented. All of these changes are imposed with no attempt made to support staff or to ensure these are capable of being completed with the working week.

5. Management Structures

Devised to support teachers and help improve teaching and learning.

Over the last 40 years the initial training of teachers has improved enormously, although that is not to say there is no further room for improvement. There is no formal training for principal teachers or DHTs (and the training for HTs is patchy). Such training as exists is ad hoc and done by colleagues. If you work in a department with a good PT you can get a good training. If you work in a department with no PT there is no-one to guide an inexperienced teacher. If you have a good HT then a willing PT can be guided into the ways of a DHT. If the HT lacks skills then anyone he trains is likely to end up the same – but that is no guarantee that they will not be promoted.

The problems created by faculty systems are apparent in some places. In others, departments survive because there are still experienced teachers to keep things going. When these experienced teachers leave, to be replaced by inexperienced teachers, the system will be severely disadvantaged. There is no succession planning. There will never be a shortage of candidates for promoted posts but there will be a shortage of good candidates if no thought continues to be given to how these candidates should be trained.

There was no decision in TP21 to move to a faculty structure. It was clearly identified as a money saving exercise with no educational benefits and implemented after the fact. Faculty heads lack expertise in areas which they are not the specialist and depend on support from others who are not financially rewarded. Many are encouraged to undertake this unpaid duty to either enhance their CV or because (and this is the most common reason) they want to provide the best possible education for their pupils.

Probationers and newly appointed teachers benefit from expertise in their subject, missing when the PT is a faculty head with no subject expertise. How many of us would happily accept a cardiac surgeon tackling a renal problem? Management skills are picked up on the job and gleaned from other, hopefully good, role models. This also continues up to and including HTs and SQH is no longer being delivered in many Authorities due to cuts.

PT’s shoulder management duties for which they are not remunerated, and employers are once again relying on the goodwill of the profession.

Our position – PTs curriculum needed for every subject!

6. Job sizing problems

The original McCrone report did not recommend job sizing stating “we feel that carrying out a programme of job evaluation for all posts concerned would be a time-consuming, costly, cumbersome and potentially controversial process of uncertain outcome. For the purposes of transparency and simplicity, we have therefore based our proposed scales on the school role, on the basis that size of school is a reasonable, objective and well-understood indicator of the likely weight of the job”.

Job sizing is an issue within and across Authorities particularly Guidance where e.g. in East Dunbarton all staff are graded at a point 3 and within the Authority there is a wide range of what is done and expected depending on the school. If you look beyond East Dunbarton to Glasgow where Guidance staff are graded at point 5 and again there is a variety of jobs which are undertaken by some but not all. There are no National guidelines. This was always an issue with KPMG and the Toolkit because it was quite clear they did not understand the role of a Guidance teacher nor the range of tasks which undertaken. Once again we would use the analogy of asking someone who had been a patient being allowed to practise brain surgery.

7. CPD/PRD

To be worthwhile both CPD and PRD have to be effective and allow teachers to develop transferrable skills. Far too much CPD is provided by large companies charging huge amounts of money to talk at teachers for a day, providing nothing than can be used in the classroom, or encourage staff to develop the necessary skills. (Once again this uses the ‘had an op on my arm once so qualified to do brain surgery’ model)

In-service training days are of inconsistent quality as far as training is concerned. The training which takes place is minimal – partly because finding someone who can supply meaningful training to a large number of people within a short period is so difficult. There is no doubt that serious thought must be given to how all teachers, at all levels, are trained and supported. A major part of this must be provided by the promoted staff in the school, but the ability to do this is being whittled away rather than being built up.

8. Management Time

In many schools management time is notional and dependent on attendance levels. There is no national framework to determine fairness or appropriateness of allocated time. Far too many promoted members of staff are expected to undertake an enormous amount of duties in addition to their normal duties, with no additional time allocation. This problem is particularly acute for guidance staff that regularly have to interview large numbers of pupils.

This Association calls for the establishment of national framework.

9. CHARTERED TEACHER

The Association acknowledges the advantage of having a highly skilled and motivated teaching force and believe that the opportunity to undertake CT module (by 1000+ teachers) contributes to this.

We would prefer a more balanced academic and workplace approach and qualification based on proven excellent classroom practice.

Published on 14 April 2011 - McCormac Review
SSTA

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