Education Leader and Manager
In this issue
Managing to create a coaching culture
4 What makes effective CPD? 6 The Education Bill: The single authority, alive or dead? 8 Sharing services in FE colleges: the Wessex experience 10 Is your sex and relationships education fit for the 21st century? 14 The last word
AMiE is ATL’s section for leaders in education
Managing to create a coachi Mark Wright, assistant director of AMiE (leadership and management)
Budget cuts have decimated continual professional development (CPD) opportunities in many schools and colleges, and there’s a desire to identify low cost in-house solutions to both nurturing potential leaders and leading the improvement of learning.
If applied appropriately coaching can provide a very strong solution; leadership is all about awareness and responsibility, and this is what a good coaching strategy cultivates. The value of coaching hasn’t gone unrecognised, not least because it is an integral part of many successful leadership development programmes, and coaching is now increasingly viewed as an essential component of an effective professional development programme. Coaching can build will, skill, knowledge and capacity because it has a reach into the intellect, behaviours, practices, beliefs, values and feelings in a way that no other form of CPD can muster. Coaching can create a safe supportive space in which to access and implement new knowledge. A coach can foster conditions in which deep reflection and learning can occur, where a teacher can take risks to change their practice, where powerful conversations can take place and where growth is recognised and celebrated. Finally, coaching can create a space where healing can be encouraged and where resilient, happier and more positive workplaces can be developed. Not a bad culture to help see an organisation through a restructure and out the other end in good shape! If applied appropriately coaching can provide a very strong solution
Show me the evidence! Growing leadership capacity and teachers’ learning and development underpins school and college improvement, and provides a vehicle for raising achievement and attainment.
With regard to nurturing leaders, evaluation of National College leadership programmes over a number of years highlighted that the coaching element that leaders and managers undertook was invariably the element of the programme design that created the greatest impact. When teachers’ learning is based on their genuine assessment and understanding of pupils’ learning they can start to make adaptations to their practice which can lead to real differences in outcomes. It is possible to identify core principles which apply to the most successful CPD provision and research by the Centre for British Teachers1 identifies these principles, among which are the need to create conditions which allow:
1 teachers to experience and develop understanding of how knowledge and skills can integrate
1 teachers to gain multiple opportunities to learn and apply information
1 teachers’ beliefs to be challenged by evidence which is not consistent with their assumptions
1 teachers to have opportunities to process new learning with others. Coaching is a means by which these and other key principles can be achieved and thus teacher learning can be enhanced. Coaching is a form of collaborative CPD and can thus prove a key aspect of teachers’ professional learning in schools or colleges. As such it needs to be managed as part of a strategic approach to CPD. With the rigors and pressure of the modern education system leading to significant staff turnover, and recent concern over the 40% of new teachers not lasting more than five years in the profession, it means that a constant stream of ‘new blood’ is required. There’s certainly an understanding that teachers need more knowledge, skills, practice and support after they enter the profession. Malcolm Gladwell, the author of Outliers: The Story of Success (2008), has calculated that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice - practice that promotes continuous improvement - to master a complex skill. This translates into about seven years for those working in schools and colleges. As those hours build they quickly need to add value in order to help the organisation become effective, and coaching offers the ideal way of sharpening skills and hopefully in a lot less time than those 10,000 hours!
ing culture Coaching strategy Although coaching has become a fundamental element in many development programmes for managers and staff, its potential to lift overall performance and boost creativity and innovation is only fully realised when it forms part of a wider strategy designed to create a coaching culture within the organisation. For this to occur the following should be in place:
1 Coaching needs to be practiced - once trained, staff need to be encouraged to develop their skills by doing some regular coaching. Practice is important as with any skill and it helps in the transition between worrying about what questions to ask next, to active listening where the person coaching becomes able to more seamlessly reflect on what the coachee, the person being coached, is saying.
1 Coaching practice is only likely to happen beyond pockets of enthusiasts if senior leadership, ideally all of the senior leadership team, actively encourages a coaching culture. They need to be overt about their support for a coaching approach and make it clear they don’t view the introduction of coaching as an indication of a problem. Coaching is not based on a deficit model; it’s not there to address staff performance issues. Rather it’s designed to develop potential and therefore the organisation’s effectiveness.
1 Senior leaders should clearly signal that they themselves receive coaching – it needs to be a whole organisation thing. Even if the senior leader has professional or executive coaching it is often useful for them to invite a member of staff at any level of the organisation to offer them coaching. Coaching is non-hierarchical in contrast to mentoring and working in this way can both boost the skills and confidence of the staff coach, but it also sends out a positive, empowering signal across the organisation.
1 Coaching needs to be promoted as an integral part of CPD and not as just a ‘nice to have’. Without a dedicated focus people will soon find ‘it’s not part of the day job’ type of reasons why they are too busy to continue. Make it part of the day job. Make it clear on an ongoing basis that it’s a key ingredient toward developing both the individual staff members and organisation as a whole. A vibrant coaching culture can soon produce a synergy where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
1 In larger schools and colleges it is a good idea to tap the enthusiasm of those who have received the training and wish to take it further. This needs encouraging by, for example, designating them as staff coaches. A cross-departmental working group tasked with helping to drive forward the coaching culture is also a good idea.
1 If you’re in a large school or college with an intranet you might consider using it to create a coaching marketplace page. This lists those who have been trained in the basic principles of coaching and whether or not they currently have capacity to take on a coachee (and maybe when they have availability). This enables those seeking a coach to have a choice over who they might approach, as relationship chemistry can play a part in the effectiveness of the coaching experience. It is also often good if the coach comes from a different department to avoid inside knowledge tempting the coach to fall too easily into a mentoring role. Mentoring is fine and to be encouraged as well but if the organisation really wants to create a better synergy through staff working together more effectively then it’s best to focus on the coaching side of things. If the school or college is fighting fires then it may well need to focus on mentoring (ie telling) but if it is actively aspiring to excellence then it is well worth considering taking the first faltering steps toward fostering a coaching culture which can release staff potential, aid the steady march to excellence and, most importantly, keep you there. Achieving and maintaining excellence then depends in large part on making space for the outcomes of coaching. For example:
1 ensuring access to research evidence to develop individuals
1 securing further professional development opportunities
1 creation of new learning networks within and beyond the organisation. The maturity of the coaching culture becomes evident through the palpable growth in awareness and the appetite for responsibility – it becomes the bedrock through which leadership can be distributed successfully across the organisation and into the sinews of each classroom or workshop. AMiE has provided a series of ad hoc CPD workshops for members and their staff on coaching and encouraging a coaching culture. Please email Mark Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to consider a similar visit.
1 www.cfbt. com/en-GB/ Research/ Researchlibrary/2010/rprocessesoutcomes-ofcoaching-2010.
What makes effective CPD? Alison Ryan, policy adviser, ATL
Getting CPD right is crucial in the effort to raise and maintain performance and indeed should be part of developing an expansive learning environment in colleges and schools, creating the conditions for further learning and innovation.
But what are the key factors that lead to CPD being an effective use of time and money?
Support from leadership and through organisational structure Research based on a wide range of international studies1 shows that leaders’ focus on teacher and trainer learning is their most effective tool in raising student achievement. Leaders’ promotion of and participation in teacher development has been demonstrated to be more than twice as effective as any other leadership activity in improving student outcomes. Evidence has shown that the greatest gains for students’ learning and educational outcomes are associated with enquiryoriented teaching, the conditions for which are created by enquiry-oriented leadership2. Schools and colleges need organisational structures and managements that encourage and facilitate ongoing professional learning, rather than focusing on monitoring and regulation.
Appropriate needs analysis Schools and colleges need organisational structures and managements that encourage and facilitate ongoing professional learning
CPD which develops the professional skills of staff and which improves student learning comes from a needs analysis that focuses on improving student outcomes, on the individual needs of staff and on the needs of the college/school. The most effective CPD is that which is relevant both to the individual and to the college/school context, building as it does on existing strengths and working within the organisational structures.
Individual needs should be identified with the input of the staff themselves and is most effective if their professional reflection and understanding is supported through high-quality mentoring and coaching within the workplace. Including aspirations for students within the needs analysis also provides staff with a shared focus and motivation, which is key to putting CPD learning into practice.
Collaborative and sustained Shared collegiate immersion in the exploration of students’ learning and teachers’ contributions to it, reflecting, learning and trying new approaches with colleagues are all features of highly effective CPD. This can include learning networks, structured dialogue between colleagues and group work (practiced in pairs and small groups), which provide multiple opportunities for exploring beliefs and assumptions, trying out new approaches and giving and receiving structured feedback. Colleagues learn from the reflections and practice of others, through professional conversation and practice observation. Research2,3,4 has shown that the most impactful CPD is sustained. Teachers who receive 80 or more hours of professional development are significantly more likely to put their learning into practice through new teaching strategies than those who received less. Highly effective CPD challenges teachers’ current personal teaching theories and provides opportunities for modelling and practicing new teaching methods in the classroom. Such practice can lead to permanent changes in teaching practices. The sustained nature of this CPD and its iterative nature requires CPD to be planned over the longer term.
Connecting pedagogy for teacher learning with pedagogy for student learning CPD has effective impact when the learning is allowed to inform teachers’ professional judgments. Professional learning needs to be systematically supported in colleges/ schools where pedagogy for teacher learning connects with pedagogy for student learning.
Evidence and expertise Highly effective CPD involves the exploration of evidence, whether internally or externally sourced, connecting practice to theory, enabling teachers as practitioners to transfer new approaches and practices and the concepts underpinning them to multiple contexts.
This can include collaborative enquiry – ‑peer-supported, collaborative, evidencebased learning activities taking place over an extended period coupled with risk-taking and structured professional dialogue about evidence. CPD delivery needs to create the opportunity for participants to draw on a wide range of knowledge sources to develop a deep conceptual understanding that underpins new practice. Alongside a breadth of reliable and relevant evidence, additional expert input can be invaluable, whether accessed internally through specialists or through external sources. It provides an opportunity for freshness of thinking alongside professional reflection, particularly if supported through structures which allow staff to try new approaches and promote professional dialogue.
Coaching and mentoring Coaching and mentoring are highly effective CPD processes for contextualising CPD and for embedding enquiry-oriented learning in day-today practice. Reciprocal peer coaching promotes professional trust and encourages teachers to try out new things whilst specialist coaches and mentors can demonstrate new approaches in action, providing support and challenge. Using a range of experience, evidence and observation, effective coaching and mentoring are a reflection of a culture of collaborative professional development in a school or college.
Professional networks Networks can be highly effective in developing, promoting and sustaining positive outcomes of CPD collaborations within and between colleges/schools. They draw on internal and external expertise, clearly focused on learning outcomes for particular student groups.
Barriers to effective CPD/ reflective practice Research has identified the barriers teachers experience in engaging in enquiry-oriented practice and CPD, including practical obstacles such as lack of time, heavy workloads, insufficient external support and a lack of research skills. Cost is also a significant barrier to accessing particular external expertise, especially relevant at a time when many external services are being cut. Lack of time not only affects time needed for the initial learning event/ experience but also time needed for reflection, implementation and dissemination. The current accountability mechanisms also push up workload, increase work pressures and can promote risk-aversion, creating a significant barrier to sustained and innovative CPD.
For enquiry-oriented practice and CPD to be embedded across the system, current evidence highlights the need for the balance between capacity building activity and accountability mechanisms to be reappraised.
Evaluation of CPD Research5,6 shows that CPD is currently under-evaluated in colleges/schools. CPD leaders need more support, advice and training about the modes of evaluation which should be used. Colleges/schools that are committed to staff professional development which impacts on pupil outcomes take a critical approach to their CPD. Evaluation should be based on judging outcomes against original identified needs and looking at a range of factors: participant reaction and learning, use of new knowledge and skills, impact upon organisational support, and impact on student outcomes. Leaders should also evaluate impact against the three facets of teachers’ professional knowledge: practical wisdom (experience), technical knowledge and critical reflection (theoretical).
A coordinated approach Key to achieving high-quality professional learning for education staff is the recognition within the system for its potential to raise standards and for it therefore to be given a central role in improvement plans and the commitment of resources. Highly effective CPD and enquiry-oriented practice involves a logical chain of procedures which entails identifying all staff needs (including managers, teachers and support staff, and recognising individual needs), planning to meet those needs, providing varied and relevant activities, involving support staff alongside teachers, monitoring progress and evaluating the impact of the professional development. This commitment needs to be echoed across the school and college system; we would welcome government policy which takes a systematic and coherent approach to careerlong professional learning, from initial teacher education through to CPD, in which evidence and the development of knowledge plays a huge part, with schools and colleges, the profession itself and universities having a prominent role. We already have a data-rich system; we need to now develop a system which is research and evidence-rich, informing excellent teaching and better student outcomes. ATL also provides a range of CPD courses for members, which are detailed on its website at www.atl.org.uk/learningzone.
1 Robinson, V. 2007. The Impact of Leadership on Student Outcomes: Making Sense of the Evidence. Research Conference 2007. Available from http://research. acer.edu.au/ research_ conference_ 2007/5/. 2 Cordingley, Bell, Holdich, Crisp. 2012. Understanding What Enables HighQuality Professional Learning. Available from www.curee. co.uk/publication/ understandingwhat-enables-highquality-professionallearning. 3 Curee, 2009. School Leadership and Student Outcomes, Identifying What Works and Why: Summary of the Best Evidence Synthesis. Available from www.education counts.govt.nz/ publications/ series/2515/ 60169/60170. 4 Whitehouse, C. 2011. Effective Continuing Professional Development for Teachers. CERP. Available from https://cerp.aqa. org.uk/sites/default/ files/pdf_upload/ CERP-RPCW-19052011.pdf. 5 Harris, Day, Goodall, Lindsay, Muijs. 2005. What Difference Does it Make? Evaluating the Impact of Continuing Professional Development in Schools. DfE. 6 Ofsted. 2006. The Logical Chain: Continuing Professional Development in Effective Schools. Available from www.ofsted.gov.uk.
The view from Northern Ireland
The Education Bill: The single alive or dead?
Mark Langhammer, director, Northern Ireland
1 http:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/D’Hondt_ method. 2 See Deloitte. 2007. Research into the Financial Cost of the Northern Ireland Divide. Belfast: Deloitte http:// cain.ulst. ac.uk/issues/ segregat/docs/ deloitte0407. pdf. Accessed 29/11/2012.
It is a sad indictment of the current Northern Ireland system of government that one of the key reforms of the Programme for Government 2011-15 – the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority – is on life support or politically ‘dead in the water’. A letter from the minister, John O’Dowd, dated 6 February, confirms that despite his best efforts to secure the necessary political agreement this “has not materialised”. Mr O’Dowd indicates that he will commence “contingency planning” and that “we have to work from now to make sure that from April 2015 our education administration will be ready for our new system of local government.” This appears to hint that the minister will act within his legal competence to restructure education and library boards to be ‘co-terminus’ with the new local council boundaries. At first sight, and subject to knowing the detail of what may be planned, this seems sensible.
For readers outside Northern Ireland, it may be worth explaining that the Northern Ireland government is not a coalition in the normal sense. Ministers are nominated by political parties after elections under the D’Hondt1 system of proportionality. They hold their ministerial post, as of right, through their party mandate. They are not nominated by the First Minister. As such, within each department, the minister has the power to determine policy. Each has autonomy within their own fiefdom. Only when proposing legislation, or when the issue concerned is ‘cross-cutting’ – ie cutting across two or more departments – is cross-party, or cross-community support required. In this case, the education minister needed to secure cross-party support for legislation to establish the Education and Skills Authority. He did not get it. He now seeks to act within his own administrative competence to ‘reboot’ the education and library boards. Since Mr O’Dowd’s letter, the Voluntary Grammar Schools representative group, the Governing Bodies Association (GBA), has indicated that it will now support the single authority, having opposed it from the outset. The GBA has also confirmed they now strongly support the legislation for the introduction of the education support allowance (ESA). The concerns of the GBA were a major stumbling block in securing agreement in the past but, it seems, they were addressed by the compromise paper submitted by John O‘Dowd several months ago. There is now broad agreement within the education sectors that the ESA Bill should precede without further delay so there is no longer any educational reason why that shouldn’t happen. What we do not know is the price Sinn Féin paid for the GBA agreement. We suspect the Sinn Féin minister will have conceded, unambiguously, more autonomy, and the role of employer to the GBA schools.
Shape education campaign: members meet MPs to influence manifestos Curriculum, Ofsted, support staff and unequal treatment of older women formed the basis of members’ conversations with Tristram Hunt MP and Chi Onwurah MP as part of ATL’s Shape education campaign.
However, the GBA’s long-awaited agreement does not mean that the largest party of the Protestant community, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), will now agree the Education Bill. It is more likely the DUP, facing into a series of elections from 2014 to 2016, will deny agreement to a Sinn Féin minister in the current mandate. We at ATL/AMiE initially supported the single authority. We argued that uniformity would improve fairness in terms and conditions, removing unnecessary duplication in policy and interpretation. It would create room for flexible working, workforce reform and enable redundancies to be better managed. The ESA was necessary to assist school rationalisation and area-based estate planning. The Deloitte report2 identified £20 million in administrative savings which would be redirected to ‘frontline’ education. Since then, however, things have gone downhill. Our fear was that the Education Bill sought to give the maximum degree of autonomy possible to all schools, bringing forward the prospect of more than 1,000 autonomous employing administrations, not one! The fear remains that after the nominal two-year Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) period, school schemes of management and employment would only be obliged to meet the bare statutory minimum in employment protection, terms and conditions – significantly lesser terms than those established through negotiating at the Teachers’ Negotiating Committee (TNC). Schools, notably voluntary grammar schools, will be enabled to divest themselves of any requirement to adopt procedures agreed within the established negotiating machinery, the TNC. In short, if the Bill passed, teachers would run the serious risk of finding their conditions of service significantly diluted, over time. For that reason we say, more in sorrow than in anger, “The Bill is dead, long live the Bill.”
Around 40 members debated the issues you’d like to see in Labour’s 2015 election manifesto with Dr Hunt, the Shadow Secretary of State for Education, at an ATL/AMiE event on the national curriculum at Keele Hall in Staffordshire on 20 February. Members also met Ms Onwurah, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister, at her office in Newcastle on 21 February, where they talked about their vision for education and teacher morale. Members’ meetings have also been set up with two members of the Education Select Committee - Bill Esterston MP for Sefton Central and Ian Mearns MP for Gateshead - after hundreds of members returned postcards detailing the issues they’d like politicians to pledge to improve in their election manifestos. The key themes of the Shape education campaign will also be debated in the motions at ATL’s Annual Conference in Manchester from 14-16 April. The themes cover the curriculum, assessment, inspections, collaboration not competition, pay and working conditions, and a fair and not-for-profit education system. Our own manifesto will be launched later this spring when you will be encouraged to lobby your MP to make sure your priorities for a successful education system form the backbone of the parties’ pledges. Following the meetings, both Dr Hunt and Ms Onwurah praised the Shape education campaign. Dr Hunt said: “These discussions and debates will help us draw-up our party’s education manifesto as we share many of concerns and aims with ATL’s members. “I will continue to listen to, talk with and consult education professionals in schools and colleges, and work with them and the unions to raise the status and quality of teaching.” AMiE members are encouraged to meet MPs to discuss the issues which you think should form the basis of the political parties’ manifestos. Please email us at email@example.com for support or visit us at www.atl.org.uk/shapeeducation for details on the campaign and how to lobby. You can also join the debate on Twitter using #ShapeEducation.
Sharing services in Wessex FE colleges Steve Cooper, regional officer, AMiE
Wessex Education Shared Services Ltd (WESS) is a new cost-sharing company established jointly by Bournemouth & Poole College and Brockenhurst College in summer 2013. WESS provides shared services for the colleges across a wide range of back office functions including finance, payroll, human resources, student records, MIS, examinations and procurement. WESS employs around 75 people, most of whom transferred from their previous college employment under a TUPE process. Bournemouth & Poole College (Dorset) and Brockenhurst College (Hampshire) are geographical neighbours and have always competed strongly across many areas of their curriculum offer, but by the time WESS launched in August 2013 the two colleges had developed a deep trust, a process that was visibly led by the two college principals. WESS worked closely with AMiE and Unison regional representatives to ensure the transfer was smooth, and employees were appropriately consulted about the changes well in advance of the transfer taking place. The productive collaborative working partnership with the trade unions continues and has benefited both employees and the organisation. This relationship with the unions has been a vital part of the process. Indeed, the implications for existing employees were always going to be a cause for concern. But it was very clear to AMiE that it was going to happen, so rather than argue from the sidelines we ensured we were fully engaged in order to help our members. In this particular instance, the fairly long lead-in time enabled the target cost savings to be achieved without the need for any redundancies. Formal consultation began in February 2013 with the expert support of regional union representatives who worked hard with WESS to ensure that employees were fully appraised of the plans and the implications.
While terms and conditions were protected under TUPE legislation, WESS was also able to maintain the membership in the Local Government Pension Scheme of all those employees who transferred in under TUPE. The main place of work of about twothirds of WESS’s employees was relocated during the transfer. AMiE worked closely with WESS and college managers to ensure that an appropriate package of support was offered to those who might be negatively affected by this relocation. Additionally, employees are now enjoying a range of new opportunities in WESS. While still very much part of the public sector family, WESS is evolving a much more customeroriented approach to its service delivery. Members welcome the fact that the services they provide are no longer perceived as an adjunct to the colleges’ business of teaching and learning; service delivery is the core business for WESS and its employees, and this shows in the improved professional approach that employees adopt to their work. Opportunities for personal development and progression are also much more accessible; WESS is able to support much greater flexibility for many employees around when and where their work is undertaken. The successful establishment of WESS has demonstrated that it is perfectly possible for colleges to collaborate effectively, even where they are considered competitors. The ‘cost share group’ arrangement means that no one college is dominant, but costs and benefits are shared in agreed proportions according to the scope and level of services being delivered. WESS has ambitions to grow its membership over the coming years, and negotiations are ongoing with several colleges already with a view to the range of services being expanded. In the meantime, WESS continues to work with AMiE to ensure terms and conditions of employment are maintained and, where possible, improved.
To find out more The AoC has published a range of materials and case studies about the WESS experience at http://tiny.cc/wess. If you have any questions about WESS please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Cooper, at email@example.com.
Your questions answered David Green, assistant director of AMiE (employment services)
We recently went through a merger. Everything seemed fine for the first month but now our employer wants to harmonise everyone’s terms and conditions. I transferred over under TUPE and was told my terms and conditions would remain the same, but now I am facing a cut in salary. Am I no longer protected by TUPE? Can my employer change my contract like this?
9 The Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations protect an employee’s rights when their employment is transferred from one undertaking to another under what is known as a relevant transfer. The effect of TUPE is that you transfer with all your terms and conditions remaining the same. Essentially, your contract with your old employer is treated as if it had been made with the new employer, preserving all your continuous service. There is no time limit to TUPE protection so you are covered by the TUPE regulations on an ongoing basis. However, the regulations themselves do allow an employer to make changes in certain circumstances. On its own, harmonisation simply because of the transfer itself is not lawful under TUPE. However, the regulations do provide employers with a legal work around. Indeed, changes due to the transfer are allowed if the employer can show there is an ‘economic, technical or organisational (ETO) reason entailing changes in the workforce’. Changes in the workforce, according to the regulations, means changes to either the number, the function, or the location of employees. So, in answer to your question, your employer will be acting lawfully by harmonising terms and conditions if these circumstances are met.
Firstly, there must be an ETO reason. Secondly, there must be a change in the workforce. This could be a reduction in the number of employees, or the transferred employees could be given fundamentally different roles, or could be moved to a new geographical workplace. As you will appreciate, this is not necessarily a difficult threshold for a determined employer to reach. As such, we advise you to seek further information about why the changes are being proposed, and whether there will be any changes in job role, location or employee numbers. If there is no ETO reason entailing changes in the workforce, then the harmonisation of terms and conditions will be unlawful. One final point to note is that even assuming the proposal is allowed under TUPE, the changes still have be introduced fairly and with consent in order to avoid any breach of contract. Given the potential impact of this proposal, you are advised to call the AMiE helpline. Further information can also be found in our leaflets ER2 Your Contract of Employment, and ER8 Transfers, Mergers and Outsourcing. Both can be downloaded from the ‘Resource bank’ on AMiE’s website at www. amie.atl.org.uk.
Is your sex and relationships education fit for the 21st century? Lucy Emmerson, coordinator of the Sex Education Forum, and Joe Hayman, chief executive of the PSHE Association.
Sex and relationships education (SRE) is inadequate in a third of schools according to Ofsted’s 2013 report on personal, social and health education (PSHE), tellingly entitled, Not Yet Good Enough.1
Confusion about what schools have to teach may be part of the problem
In primary schools, inspectors found a common failure to prepare pupils adequately for puberty while secondary schools tended to shy away from addressing homophobia, pornography and sexual exploitation. Yet there was a close correlation between those schools that had outstanding PSHE and those graded outstanding for overall effectiveness. So why is there such inconsistency? Confusion about what schools have to teach may be part of the problem. The legislation for SRE is arguably more complicated and convoluted than it is for any other subject.
However, the new national curriculum clearly states that all schools should make provision for PSHE, drawing on good practice, and high-quality SRE should be part of this broader developmental education. While the Department for Education (DfE) is clear that schools are free to develop their own PSHE programme to reflect the needs of their pupils, any school that provides SRE has a statutory duty to have ‘due regard’ to the Secretary of State’s guidance on SRE (DfEE, 2000). Whatever the government position, support for schools to teach good quality SRE is evident amongst pupils and parents alike. A poll commissioned by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT)2 showed that 88% of parents want SRE to be compulsory in school and 83% also want lessons to address issues about pornography. As shocking cases of child sexual abuse continue to emerge, with the internet and social media often the vehicle for exploitation, the need for a proactive and preventative approach is being increasingly accepted. At the same time, young people voted in their thousands last year for a ‘curriculum that prepares us for life’ – of which SRE was identified as a critical element – to be the national campaign priority for the UK Youth Parliament. This echoes the statutory duty on schools to ‘prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life’; high-quality SRE is a critical element in delivering that objective.
There is strong evidence that a comprehensive programme of SRE which starts early and is taught by trained educators will contribute to a reduction in teenage pregnancy and result in young people having sex for the first time at an older age.3 The standards required for outstanding SRE are set out in Not Yet Good Enough and Ofsted’s recently updated grade descriptors for PSHE. High up the list is the need for teachers to have excellent subject knowledge and skills. So, how can schools design a modern SRE programme that is fit for the 21st century? There are three things that all school leaders can do to get started. Firstly, find out what the needs of your pupils really are. Asking them, for example, who they learn from about growing up, sex and relationships or simply to prioritise what they want to learn in SRE is a very powerful exercise. When shared with staff and parents this information can help build support for further investment in SRE. Communicating with parents and carers about the SRE the school provides is vital too. It may feel like a daunting task, but remember that the vast majority of parents support school SRE, and many welcome support in how they can better fulfil their role as educators at home too. The Sex Education Forum offers specialist resources to support schools to involve parents in SRE and in assessing pupil needs. Finally, the quality of SRE really depends on the training and support provided for teachers.
Recognising that the government’s SRE guidance is now 14 years’ old and that schools remain challenged by the subject, the PSHE Association, the Sex Education Forum and Brook have worked together to produce supplementary advice to help bring SRE into the 21st century. The advice provides information to teachers on topics that are missing from the current guidance including pornography, technology, consent and violence in relationships. It also provides numerous links for further support and resources, and gives clear information about how to teach topics such as ‘sexting’ and how to make SRE inclusive. The supplementary advice is freely available to all schools via the PSHE Association at www.pshe-association.org.uk/ news_detail.aspx?ID=1383, Brook and SEF website at www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/ resources/sre-advice-for-schools.aspx. Getting your SRE fit for the 21st century is not an impossible task, and we are here to help. The Sex Education Forum’s Network+ membership offers schools regular updates on SRE and ongoing support (visit them at www.sexeducationforum.org.uk/ membership.aspx for more information) and the PSHE Association are offering AMiE members a special discount on their membership via www.pshe-association.org.uk/atl. Help may also come from surprising sources within the school community once senior leaders start the conversation. Good luck! ATL is a member of both the SEF and the PSHE Association. ATL members receive a discounted rate for joining the PSHE Association.
1 Ofsted. 2013. Not Yet Good Enough: Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education in Schools. Available from www.ofsted.gov.uk. 2 NAHT. 2013. Research was commissioned by the NAHT and conducted in April 2013 by Research Now. It was press released by the NAHT in May 2013. 3 Sex Education Forum. 2010. Does Sex and Relationships Education Work? Available from www.ncb.org.uk/ media/494585/ sef_doessrework_ 2010.pdf.
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Who can join? Colleges: AMiE welcomes managers at all levels in FE colleges, sixth form colleges and adult education providers. Schools: We warmly invite school headteachers (including those in academies), deputy headteachers, assistant headteachers, acting headteachers, bursars and business managers to join AMiE. We also have many members in national organisations, training organisations and other areas of the education sector, including HE.
sharing views with colleagues
1 helping to develop policy and responses to national consultations concerns with professionals from sector organisations, eg Ofsted
1 networking and learning about others’ experiences from across the education sector. The commitments on your side are reasonable: three meetings per year over a three-year term. If you would like to join AMiE’s Council and your nomination succeeds, we promise you a warm welcome and plenty of support while you settle into your role. If you are interested and wish to discuss Council membership further, please call Julia Pearson on 01858 411542 or complete the nomination form enclosed with ELM (an electronic copy is available at www.amie.atl.org.uk).
“Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Henry Ford
Quotes from the top!
“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.” Nelson Mandela
The Skills Show inspires a generation For students, choosing exam options and a future career path can be a complicated and confusing process, particularly when it can seem so far in the future. The worlds of education and employment are changing so fast, many students can feel overwhelmed by the opportunities available to them, and some prefer to stick to what feels safe or what their friends and parents know. Recent research by the AoC, in partnership with the Skills Show, shows that 57% of students turn to teachers for careers advice, yet they may not be fully aware of the range of careers opportunities available. So what can teachers and lecturers do to advise students and help them to select the right career path? Ross Maloney, chief executive of the Skills Show, the nation’s biggest skills and careers event, has the following advice: “What does the student actually want to do? Advise them to sit down with friends, teachers, tutors and family and really think about it – their own ideas on a future career path may differ from those of their friends and family, but it is important to remember that a happy worker will always be more satisfied than one who is pigeonholed into a career they do not want. “We all know that work can be rewarding, fulfilling and sometimes even fun. Students need to realise that without it the basics of life may be harder to come by (a home, a car, spending money!). “Research the careers of those in the public eye that they admire to see if they have taken an unexpected route to success. Theo Paphitis, for example, started his career as an apprentice and worked his way to the top. “Investigate whether it is possible for the students to arrange work experience with a local business, a family friend or familiar business in an area that interests them – having a go will give them a true taster of the careers on offer.
“What are they really passionate about? Young people are more likely to succeed in these subjects, and the jobs and careers associated with them, than those they feel they must study or which others insist on. Book your class visit to the 2014 Skills Show at the NEC, Birmingham, from 13-15 November 2014. Free to attend, it is the nation’s largest skills and careers event which provides hands-on experiences that inspire young people to explore FE, skills and apprenticeships. Visitors will also have the chance to have a go at a wide variety of work-based skills, get impartial advice from careers professionals and speak to a range of employers, colleges and training providers. Spotlight stages throughout the event allow visitors to get an insider’s view of different industries, while college students from across the UK will also inspire and entertain visitors with showcase demonstrations and performances across a wide range of work-based skills. Representatives from leading employer brands, the National Careers Service, Job Centre Plus and the National Apprenticeship Service will also be on hand to discuss training and employment opportunities. City & Guilds, Edge Foundation and Premier Colleges are leading sponsors of the event, with the Skills Funding Agency and the European Social Fund its funding partners. Alternatively, you could encourage your students to visit one of over 220 Skills Show Experience events, which take place across the UK until December 2014 and bring careers inspiration to more than 200,000 young people. The events will help young visitors unlock their potential and shape their futures, with a host of different activities available to provide them with a wealth of knowledge about the world of work. To find out more, to locate an event near you, or to book your visit to the 2014 Skills Show, please go to www.theskillsshow.com.
The last word
It doesn’t do what it says on the tin, Mr Gove Martin Freedman, director of economic strategy and negotiations, ATL
Rigour? Academic excellence? Character building? These are fine slogans but they don’t get a look in when it comes to distributing money
It would be difficult to apply the aphorism, “it does what it says on the tin” to the education policy of Michael Gove. Rarely has the gap between the label on a tin and its contents seemed so yawningly, so unbridgeably wide. On the outside, Mr Gove talks about rigour, academic excellence, high standards for all and allowing education to build ‘character’. Yet his actions betray a politician who brushes aside inconvenient evidence; who claims that all critics are ‘enemies of promise’; and, most tellingly of all, who can find money for some schools and some young people while many suffer disparagement and cuts.
Take, for example, his oft-repeated assurance that education funding has been protected. Latterly, this has come to mean funding for five to 16-yearolds only. The recent reduction of 17.5% for students aged 18 has hit all colleges hard; sixth form colleges have arguably been hit hardest. College employers estimate that these hugely successful institutions have lost more than £100 million in the last three years and that almost half have had to slash courses - mostly A-levels. Rigour? Academic excellence? Character building? These are fine slogans but they don’t get a look in when it comes to distributing money. A National Audit Office report for the DfE in March 2011 warned that the government should be wary of encouraging new schools to have sixth forms to increase competition because, “increasing choice of providers may lead to lower quality, high-cost providers and reduced choice of courses for learners”. Money can, however, be found in its millions for Mr Gove’s pet projects of academies and free schools. Some reports have claimed that the government has spent £62 million setting up nine new free schools, offering education for 16- to 19-year-olds, which between them have just 1,557 pupils. They estimate that the government is spending more than £39,616 for every student at these free schools, compared to around £5,000 on pupils in maintained schools.
Added to that is the money that has gone into university technical colleges (UTC) which, again, comes from the 14-19 budget and displaces support for ‘traditional’ sixth form and FE students to the government’s preferred option - the establishment of an educational market. Priority is being given to those institutions that are more amenable to private interest and market philosophy, with their concepts of sponsorship and branding. The much delayed skills funding statement from the government outlining the budget for the next two years for people aged 19 and over also shows cuts to the value of around 20% and comes at a time when colleges are coping with increasing numbers of apprentices, adult learners and unemployed in training. The AoC has described the uncertainty over funding as “a disincentive to investment”. As the economy has started its tentative steps towards recovery, employers are already beginning to cite skills shortages as a major impediment to increasing both productivity and economic output. Yet the institutions that are best placed to impart the skills that can get people back to work – FE colleges – find themselves starved of the funds that would enable them to have a real input into economic growth. In addition, all this is occurring against a background of continuing high levels of youth unemployment. January’s official statistics showed that nearly a million young people were out of work (with a quarter of them remaining unemployed for more than a year); a figure that is stubbornly refusing to move in line with the general decrease in unemployment. The government’s polarising policy of “higher education (HE) or apprenticeships”, but nothing else, is clearly failing a vast number of young people. They are finding the traditional routes into FE gradually closing in front of them. In their place, we find a series of low-skill, low-pay jobs that offer little training and few career prospects. The mess over the future of the careers service – a service which Mr Gove indicated at a recent Education Select Committee meeting may not be entirely necessary – has not helped because young people desperately need impartial advice so they can make the most appropriate choices or the least disruptive changes. Routes into HE for mature students are similarly blocked. The number of part-time student entrants to HE has dropped by a decidedly steep 40% since 2010-11, while a fall of around 20% has been felt by students aged over 19 applying to start HE courses in autumn 2012. This drop in the number of mature students going to university could have repercussions for the UK’s economy if businesses are left without highly qualified staff.
The head of the government’s own Office for Fair Access, Professor Les Ebdon, has warned that the situation needs to be remedied. In recent correspondence with an FE principal, Michael Gove gave the view that 18-year-olds needed fewer hours in their education and would be counted as ‘part-time’ students. They have already, he is reported to have said, had two years to ‘get it right’. In their third year (which educationalists would see as essential to social mobility and to supporting students who are orientating themselves to the job market or university), these students will have advice and guidance, enrichment, ‘non qualification’ support, eg work experience, and tutorials (already cut by two thirds) almost completely removed. Even the government admits that a higher proportion of black and minority ethnic students will be affected.
For sixth form and FE colleges to be battered in this way through the abolition of the education maintenance allowance, austerity funding cuts, and now the reduction in 18-year-old funding, when others are publicising their alternatives (UTCs, ‘new’ colleges for innovative and high priority projects - HS2 and nuclear power), reveals that the development of a market in education is more important to Michael Gove than current quality or performance. This development allows the prioritisation of free schools, academies and UTCs over ‘traditional’ colleges. This is even at the cost of the wider austerity budget. So, ideology trumps budget. And, sadly, short-term headlines triumph over a longer term vision of excellence for all. It is hard to know where to start when it comes to reshaping the government’s education policy so that it fits the reality of young people in our society and does not reside in the imagination of elitist politicians who believe that excellence should be the preserve of the few. Perhaps an abandonment of the experimentation with untried and untested education establishments should be top of any reshaping list. The incredible amounts of money spent on academies and free schools while increasing numbers of these institutions find themselves the subject of financial investigations and worrying Ofsted reports is extremely hard to justify. Cutting funding and support from what used to be called ‘second chance’ students should also cease. The market is not the sole and ultimate arbiter of young people’s education and futures and it must no longer be treated as such.
Short-term headlines triumph over a longer term vision of excellence for all
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