EDUCATION LEADER AND MANAGER
Representing leaders and managers in education P O L I CY
FUNDING: A FAIRER FORMULA? page 8
M A ST E R C L A S S
MEET AMIE VICE PRESIDENT JOSIE WHITELEY page 14
MAKING THE LEAP TO HEADSHIP page 18
FEBRUARY 2017 @ATL_AMiE
SHAPE THE FUTURE
WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE FOR A NEW UNION PAGE 10
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2 ELM | OCTOBER 2014
ELM / FEBRUARY 2017
Education news: including the opening of the new union ballot
The view from Northern Ireland and Wales
Will the new funding formula leave your school worse off?
A new union – your chance to help shape the future
Meet AMiE vice president Josie Whiteley
Making the transition from deputy to head
Q&A: Advice on handling an unethical request
The final word on why you should vote YES to forming a new, stronger union ELM is the magazine from ATL, 7 Northumberland Street, London WC2N 5RD Tel 020 7930 6441 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.amie.atl.org.uk Editor Sally Gillen
Sub-editor Justine Conway Art editor George Walker Designer Alix Thomazi Advertising sales Michael Coulsey or Anthony Bennett 020 3771 7200 Account manager Kieran Paul Managing director Polly Arnold
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will fulfil its obligation under all circumstances. The views expressed in articles in ELM are the contributors’ own and do not necessarily reflect ATL policy. Official policy statements issued on behalf of ATL are indicated as such. All rights reserved. Material contained in this publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without prior permission of ATL. Cover: Jorge Martin
MARK WRIGHT AMiE DIRECTOR
Soon you will be invited to vote on whether ATL and the NUT should join together to create a new union – the National Education Union (NEU). With almost half a million members, the NEU would be the largest education union in the UK, with the power and potential to influence the Government on the key issues affecting education. These challenges have been growing year after year, and I know from my conversations with many of you that, as leaders, you feel the impact acutely. Funding, workload, recruitment and the Government drive to test, test, test – just of few of the challenges that mean we must come together in greater numbers to strengthen our voice. This ballot is the culmination of years of work by ATL-AMiE and the NUT to design a new union that would be moderate, pragmatic and inclusive. While the new union will be neither ATL nor the NUT, ATL’s ‘debate not demand’ approach will shape the NEU’s industrial strategy and ATL’s whole-workforce approach will encourage collegiate working. These approaches are reflected in the new rule book, which says industrial action can only be taken once an indicative ballot has shown support for action. No individual will be expected to go on strike if they don’t want to. Leaders will continue to have their own section in the NEU because we recognise that you have a tough job with specific challenges that require dedicated support. I’m sure you have questions. On page 4, ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted and NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney answer some of those, and on page 22, Dr Bousted sets out why you should vote YES, not least because she will be joint general secretary until 2023. On page 10, AMiE members explain why they are backing the new union. I urge you to do the same. As leaders, it is so important you use your vote to secure the future of education. I’m happy to answer any questions you may have that are not answered in this issue of ELM. Please get in contact if you need to before casting your vote, and please vote YES. firstname.lastname@example.org.
GET IN TOUCH
FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 3
NEED TO KNOW
NEWS IN BRIEF KEEP UP TO DATE WITH THE LATEST EDUCATION SECTOR NEWS
SAY YES TO A NEW UNION
ABOUT THE NEW UNION
ATL-AMIE is urging members to secure the future of education by voting yes to the creation of a new union – the National Education Union (NEU) – with the NUT. Ahead of a ballot that opens on 27 February, ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said bringing together ATL-AMiE and the NUT to form the NEU would create the largest education union in the UK. “The new union will have a really large leadership section – over 16,000 members – so that immediately becomes a huge force,” said Dr Bousted. “We recognise leading is a really difficult job – how to manage people, how to manage change, bring people with you, not adding to workload. We want leadership members to stay in the new union, and we will have resources not only to support leaders but to help develop members into leaders.” NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “I think the Government is asking the impossible of headteachers. One of the oddest things you heard the former chief inspector saying is we need more maverick heads. What he was saying is
THE DECISION TO move to balloting eligible members over the creation of a new union was taken at a special conference of more than 300 delegates, including members of AMiE, on 5 November 2016. The ballot will run from 27 February to 21 March at 5pm. All standard members of ATL or AMiE, including leaders and managers, plus retired and associate members, will be eligible to vote if they were in membership on 31 January 2017. A yes vote will lead to the creation of the NEU in September 2017, with full integration by 1 January 2019. For more information, visit atl.org.uk/ newunion or email email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @ATLUnion #newunion and www.facebook.com/ATLunion.
that they need to be more maverick about challenging what Ofsted wants. “That’s astonishing. If we’re going to do something about teacher workload, we need to support heads to be able to manage in a way that doesn’t create that workload. But they are under enormous pressure from Government and Ofsted. One union that represents the whole workforce can see the workload drivers and will be able to speak out about the pressures on leaders.” To read the full interview with Kevin Courtney and Mary Bousted (pictured) in February's Report, go to: www.atl.org.uk/report.
If you don’t receive your ballot paper during the week commencing 27 February, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the ballot helpline: 020 7782 1616.
LETTER TO MPs
PHOTOGRAPHY: DANNY FITZPATRICK
NEW FORMULA FAILS TO FUND SCHOOLS ADEQUATELY A NEW FUNDING FORMULA for schools released by the Government does not address the key problem - lack of money in the system, ATL-AMiE has warned. The new formula is designed to address wide variations in funding between schools that have similar pupil profiles but are in different geographical locations. Extra money will be given to schools that have high numbers of disadvantaged students and those who have English as an additional language. ATL’s director of economic strategy and negotiations Adrian Prandle said: “The Government has not put the needs of children first in failing to come up with any
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additional funding for schools. School budgets are already cut to the bone." ● Headteachers gave evidence to MPs on the public accounts committee last month, warning that the Government's push for schools to save £3 billion by 2019-20 is unrealistic. Kate Davies, principal of Darton College in Barnsley, said it was "insulting" that the Department for Education believes schools and colleges can make more savings. See feature on page 8 and go to page 17 for a funding website developed by ATL and the NUT.
ATL-AMIE HAS WRITTEN to MPs highlighting the pressures further education colleges will face this year. The letter, sent by ATL, urges MPs to visit their local college to find out how it will handle the changes ahead. These changes include the impact of the national programme of area reviews, due to end next month, which will result in college closures and mergers. The introduction of an apprenticeship levy in April, which will require all employers with a wage bill of over £3 million to pay 0.5%, will also place pressure on cash-strapped colleges, says the letter. A Skills Plan, published last year without consultation, will mean colleges will need to overhaul their curriculum but ATL-AMiE is concerned that no funding has been provided to implement the Skills Plan.
NEED TO KNOW
A FIFTH OF LEADERS DENIED PAY RISE More secondary teachers (21%) than primary teachers (18%) had, as in 2015, been turned down, while teachers in academies were again more likely to have been denied progression than those in local authority-maintained schools. Eligible part-time teachers were this year more than twice as likely to be denied progression (38%) than their full-time colleagues (18%), a climb of six percentage points since 2015. ATL senior policy adviser Simon Stokes said: “ATL and the NUT warned that the Government’s proposed extension of PRP across all pay ranges – a ‘reform’ for which no equality impact assessment was conducted by the STRB or the DfE in taking forward its implementation would lead to discriminatory treatment and outcomes." AMiE director Mark Wright said: “These findings suggest there may be unconscious bias or perhaps BME teachers are less confident about pushing for a rise, as is known to be the case for those aspiring to leadership positions. Whatever the reason, it is worrying. When retention is a huge issue, this data could send the wrong signal about the value of a diverse workforce. We need to look into what lies behind this.”
TEACHERS MUST BE PAID AT A 'REALISTIC' LEVEL, WARNS ATL ATL GENERAL SECRETARY Mary Bousted has warned that pay restraint is exacerbating the recruitment crisis and harming children’s life chances. Dr Bousted’s comments followed our submission to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB), the independent body that makes recommendations to the Government on teachers' pay. Dr Bousted said: “In its last report, the STRB said that if recruitment and retention did not improve, then teachers would need an increase significantly higher than one per cent. Things have not got better. They have got worse.”
More teachers left the profession in the last year than in any other year, and the Government has failed to fill initial teacher training places in 14 out of 18 subjects, she added. The STRB must be allowed to set teachers’ pay at a realistic level. AMiE director Mark Wright said: “Funding cuts are exacerbating workload issues, meaning staff are having to work even harder for their salary. If we are to believe that the STRB is independent then it must look at the evidence ATL-AMiE and other unions have provided and recommend a realistic pay award this time round.”
EDUCATION SECRETARY INDICATES SELECTION WILL BE EXPANDED, DESPITE UNION OPPOSITION THE GOVERNMENT LOOKS likely to forge ahead with its plans for more grammar schools, despite evidence showing they do not improve social mobility. Speaking at an event in London last month, education secretary Justine Greening said proposals in the paper Schools that Work for Everyone, published for consultation at the end of last year, set out an “exciting programme”. Reforms cannot be “put to one side because people feel that there are things we shouldn’t be looking at”, she said, adding: “We are not going to shift social mobility in our country unless we are prepared to look at the opportunities ahead of us and be prepared to go with those.” Her speech followed heavy criticism of the plans for more grammars in written submissions to the Department for Education’s consultation. In its response, ATL-AMiE warned that most children will be “written off” at age 11 if the Government presses ahead with plans to expand selection. It warns that evidence shows grammar schools are not a vehicle for social mobility, and that the Government has proposed nothing to address issues facing the profession: the crisis in recruitment and retention of school leaders and classroom teachers, crippling workload and lack of funding.
FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 5
A PAY SURVEY by ATL-AMiE and the NUT has found 20% of leaders lost out on pay progression in the last year. A third said they had been told they could not have a salary increase because of pressures on the school budget. The survey also found that leaders in secondary schools were more likely to be denied a rise, with 32% missing out, compared with 11% in primary schools. AMiE director Mark Wright said: “The Government was clear that PRP should not prompt any surprises. Yet going from automatic pay progression not so long ago to a situation where so many are denied their rightful performance proven pay is appalling. “It also highlights the lottery of fair funding – if you happen to work in a school with higher funding you will be more likely to receive a pay rise while working equally hard in a school with restricted funding can mean you won’t,” he added. “It is manifestly unfair.” The survey of 13,000 ATL and NUT members also showed that more teachers are being denied pay progression than ever before, with secondary teachers, teachers in academies, BME teachers and part-time teachers all more likely to have been turned down.
One million Welsh speakers by 2050 EDUCATION REFORMS GIVE US THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENSURE THE NEGLECT OF THE WELSH LANGUAGE IS ADDRESSED
lthough ATL Cymru agrees that there needs to be more opportunities for people to learn and use Welsh in every aspect of life, the capacity of the education workforce to work through the medium of Welsh, and ensure that everyone is given the opportunity to undertake training to build their capacity, will be challenging. We strongly believe that the education system will be key to helping achieve one million Welsh speakers by 2050 – as set out by the Government in a consultation that ended in November. Children and young people need the opportunities in school, college and university to learn, use and extend their knowledge of Welsh. Adults also need those same opportunities to ensure that it becomes a language that is used every day. However, without a clear funding commitment for continued professional development (CPD) for teachers, lecturers and support staff, the current workforce will not be able to learn or improve its Welsh language skills. There are plans to change initial teacher training, which has just been reviewed, both in light of the Furlong Review and following proposed changes to the curriculum. Changes to initial teacher education will not meet the needs of the current workforce. Cuts to the funding for adult and community learning over recent years mean that the current workforce needs opportunities to learn Welsh too. Our members have highlighted that the further education sector and those delivering vocational courses face additional challenges in providing courses in Welsh. The nature of vocational courses can mean that lecturers come from professional or other non-academic backgrounds and may not have a lecturing background.
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Education reform agenda Education professionals in Wales face many reforms in the coming years. These include (but are not limited to): • the new Curriculum for Wales • changes to professional standards • changes to the qualifications system • changes to additional learning needs (ALN) provision • the digital competency framework • the literacy and numeracy framework. Although we would agree that changes to the education system do need to happen, we believe that the workload for education professionals must be closely monitored to ensure that the reforms do not have a detrimental impact on staff. It is within the context of the above reforms that we would highlight the need for the education sector to have the opportunities to develop their use of the Welsh language in schools and colleges, and give future generations of children and young people the opportunities to use and develop their Welsh. Another driver for CPD in this area is the Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) Bill, which was laid before the Assembly for scrutiny in December. The bill says there will be an expectation that the assessment and review process for learners can be carried out in the medium of Welsh. This will have an impact on local authorities, but potentially governing bodies of schools and FE colleges too, as they assess and provide for learners with ALN. The bill will go through a series of stages of review before we know what the final version looks like. We also expect a draft version of the Code of Practice any time now.
COLUMNIST MARY VAN DEN HEUVEL POLICY ADVISER, ATL CYMRU
COMMENT: NORTHERN IRELAND
Early selection doesn’t add up RESEARCH SHOWS PUPIL PERFORMANCE DROPS AT SECONDARY LEVEL, WHICH SHOULD READ AS A DANGER SIGN
COLUMNIST MARK LANGHAMMER DIRECTOR OF ATL NORTHERN IRELAND
orthern Ireland has the highest-achieving primary school pupils outside Asia in major international tests in maths. Globally, we are sixth best at maths, just behind primary pupils in Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan and Japan, according to the latest Trends in International Maths and Science Study (TIMSS) rankings. These rankings are based on tests taken in 2015 by more than 580,000 students aged nine to 10 and 13 to 14 in 57 countries. Northern Ireland’s position puts pupils ahead of those in Ireland (ninth) and England (tenth), as well as persistently high-achieving countries such as Finland and Norway. The TIMMS analysis reported that teachers in Northern Ireland spent more than 20% of classroom time teaching maths and had one of the highest rates of computer use in the subject in the world. Most teachers were found to be satisfied in their jobs and most pupils reported feeling safe in school. In science the picture is a little different. Although boys and girls performed almost equally in the science tests, Northern Ireland fell from 21st place in 2011 – the last time TIMMS rankings were published – to 27th this time round. Despite the drop, pupils in Northern Ireland performed marginally better in the tests than in 2011.
Among the other TIMMS findings was that pupils here are more confident in maths and science in primary school than in secondary school. Despite a strong performance at primary level, research shows the ranking drops off at secondary school. The latest results recorded in PISA tests run by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), based on tests taken by 540,000 students in 72 countries in 2015, show that 15-year-olds in Northern Ireland performed slightly better than the global average in international tests in maths, reading and science, outperforming their peers in Scotland and Wales, though they were slightly behind England. However, results had improved little since 2013. Of particular note was that Northern Ireland had relatively few high-achieving pupils. Only seven per cent of pupils in science and maths, and six per cent in reading, were ‘top performers’ in the tests. In view of our persistence with an early selective system, this should read as a danger sign. Our system remains selective, yet our elite students underperform by international comparison. Why then does the Northern Ireland system drop off at post-primary level? Many Northern Irish primary schools are small, local, and often rural where supportive family and social bonds remain strong. This point about the educational value of social ‘cement’ was made in the recent QUB ILiAD research report which was politically suppressed before the 2016 Assembly elections. Our primaries are generally socially mixed, with comprehensive intakes. It has long been accepted academically, even if not acted upon by policy-makers, that overall school performance improves with balanced intakes. At post-primary level, where pupil intakes are more starkly segregated, performance drops. Angel Gurría, OECD secretary-general, commented: “The longer you delay selection the better for students.”
“OUR SYSTEM REMAINS SELECTIVE, YET OUR ELITE STUDENTS UNDERPERFORM BY INTERNATIONAL COMPARISON.” FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 7
P O L I C Y M AT T E R S
ducation secretary Justine Greening has set out the Government’s plans for a new, fairer funding formula (NFF) for schools. However, ATL is concerned that the formula does not address the real-term funding cuts faced by schools today. Any short-term gains from the NFF will not address funding shortfalls and will leave the school system as a whole worse off. The aim of the new formula is to address wide gaps in funding between geographical areas. Under the old funding formula, schools with similar pupil profiles could receive significantly different levels of funding simply because of where in the country they were located. The new formula is designed to distribute funding more evenly between schools with similar characteristics. The structure of the NFF will be based on four
building blocks: basic per pupil funding; additional needs funding; school-led funding; and geographic funding. The basic per-pupil amount is the main block, accounting for 72.5% (£23 billion) of the total budget. Additional needs funding accounts for 18% (£5.8 billion), and is divided into four criteria: deprivation, low prior attainment, English as an additional language, and mobility (which concerns pupils who join school in-year). School-led funding is also divided into four factors: a lump sum given to every school; sparsity (extra cash for small schools that can’t share services); premises (further divided into rates, split sites, private finance initiative and exceptional circumstances); and growth (for schools that experience a significant increase in pupil numbers). Geographical funding is intended to take account of general labour market trends and salary variations in the teaching workforce and can, according to the Government’s consultation document, provide increases
of up to 18%. Each of the 13 factors is given a particular weighting in the new formula, to determine the amount of funding a school receives. Greening said that, under the new formula, a total of 10,740 “underfunded” schools would gain, while 5,500 were likely to see their funding fall. More than 3,000 schools would receive an increase of more than five per cent, while no school would face an overall reduction in per pupil funding of more than three per cent, she explained. This would mean that schools were funded on the basis of the “needs of pupils rather than by their postcode”. She told MPs that “all schools and local authorities will now receive a consistent and fair share of the schools budget so that they can have the best possible chance to give every child the opportunity to reach their full potential ... wherever a family lives in England, their children will attract a similar level of funding, and one that properly reflects their needs.”
NO REAL WINNERS UNDER SCHOOL FUNDING REFORMS The Government’s new funding formula for schools in England fails to put children first WORDS PAUL STANISTREET
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P O L I C Y M AT T E R S
THE FINANCIAL REALITY However, hopes that the new formula would deliver financial stability for schools were dented by the publication, on the same day, of a National Audit Office (NAO) report which highlighted the stark financial reality facing many schools. The NAO warned that schools in England would have to make savings of £3 billion by 2020 to meet cost pressures, an eight per cent real-terms reduction per pupil. The report was critical of the Department for Education’s approach to managing the risks to schools’ financial sustainability, urging it to “take responsibility for supporting schools to meet cost pressures”. The department’s schools budget is protected in real terms but does not provide for increases in per-pupil funding in line with inflation. In the context of higher employer pensions and national insurance contributions, the new apprenticeship levy and changes to curriculum and assessment means that even the “winners” in Greening’s new formula – those schools which are currently the worst funded in England – are likely to face real-terms cuts. The Government, nevertheless, continues to argue the new funding formula will give head teachers “certainty over their future budgets, helping them make long-term plans and secure further efficiencies”. However, Adrian Prandle, director of economic strategy and negotiations at ATL, warns that the formula will do little to address the long-term funding challenges facing school leaders if there isn’t a significant boost to school funding overall. “The Government wants to present funding as fairer, and claims the new formula will give every child the chance to reach their potential,” he says. “The reality is quite different. In real terms, the vast majority– some 98% – of schools will have their funding cut on a per-pupil basis. As the NAO report made clear, schools are already struggling to meet the needs of their pupils. School costs have been rising and the Government’s funding strategy has not kept pace. What schools desperately need, if they are to continue to meet the needs of pupils, is additional funding. That is what the Government would offer if it were genuine in its commitment to putting children first. “The benefits of a consistent approach to funding nationally weighs against whether the formula can be quickly responsive to changing local needs. Some leaders, after seeing the new formula, are telling us they are perilously close to the
rock bottom per pupil amount education can be provided with. If additional funding is not forthcoming, school leaders will continue to find recruiting staff a challenge and will increasingly face difficult choices. This could mean cutting staff or reducing the range of subjects they teach. Or it could mean bigger class sizes, less well-maintained classrooms or fewer extra-curricular activities. All at a time when the Government is frivolously wasting money expanding grammar schools. Though it is welcome that these formula changes will benefit some pupils in the immediate term, next to no one will be better off in the long run.” A NEED FOR SUSTAINABILITY Dr Robin Bevan, headteacher at Southend High School for Boys, welcomes the Government’s willingness to tackle “indefensible differentials in school funding” and to bring greater clarity and fairness to the national formula. However, he also raises concerns that the proposed model has not been thoroughly “sense tested” and highlights a number of anomalies, for example that Southend, the 89th worst-funded local authority currently, was set, on the Government’s
“If one was optimistic and thought the settlement for education might see a one per cent uplift per year after the CSR, it would be 2023-24 before the school saw any increase in its funding. If the proposals are implemented, it is very unlikely that our school will remain financially viable.” There is a danger, says Prandle, that the funding formula would lead to years of uncertainty about school funding and sustainability, and prevent leaders from making long-term plans and managing their spending as efficiently as possible. “The NAO report demonstrated the extent of the pressure under which school leaders are working and made it clear that things will get worse before they get better. Whether winner or loser under the new formula, eight per cent cost pressures are very difficult to manage and the effects on pupils are beginning to be felt. A new funding settlement for schools was an opportunity for ministers to show they had the needs of pupils at heart and to put in place measures to allow schools to provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all children, as well as to recruit and retain sufficient numbers of
“THE GOVERNMENT WANTS TO PRESENT FUNDING AS FAIRER, AND CLAIMS THE NEW FORMULA WILL GIVE EVERY CHILD THE CHANCE TO REACH THEIR FULL POTENTIAL. THE REALITY IS QUITE DIFFERENT.” calculations, to be the 11th biggest loser. Overall, he says, the model had focused too much on redistribution and not enough on sustainability. “The key to sustainability is ensuring that minimum funding levels for the least well-funded schools are sufficient to operate,” he argues, noting that it is “extraordinary” that 136 out of the 400 least well-funded secondary schools would be required to sustain a budget reduction. “My own school is among the least well-funded secondary academies in the country. There are good reasons why others get more, but we still need a sustainable income. The underlying reduction for this school, without protection, is 5.82%. Any increase in the total quantum of schools’ block funding coming out of the next Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) would need to be in excess of 5.82% before my school would see any benefit,” he says.
qualified teachers and heads. While the formula rightly has deprivation as a key factor, sadly, the Government is still a long way short of closing the attainment gap. Distributing an already inadequate pot of funding slightly differently leaves children, particularly the most disadvantaged and those children from families that are ‘just about managing’, most likely to pay the price for the Government’s ongoing ideological commitment to reducing spending on public services.” The Government’s consultation will run until 22 March. Final decisions will be taken in summer 2017 with the agreed formula rolled out in 2018-19. 3 WEBSITE The consultation document can be found here: https://goo.gl/COR775
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F E AT U R E
Shaping the future A new union would bring together thousands of leaders and and managers WORDS MARY BOUSTED ILLUSTRATION JORGE MARTIN
ducation never stands still, with ever-changing opportunities from new technology and research in education practice, not to mention ever-changing challenges from Government policy. Education unions should never stand still either. They must be ready to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of you, the members, as you rise to meet the opportunities and challenges for the benefit of you, your colleagues and your students. The chance to shape the future is why ATL and AMiE members will shortly be asked a very important question on the direction of the union. Over the past three years, there have been informal then formal talks and negotiations between ATL and NUT representatives to consider how best to secure your future in the ever-changing education sector and how to strengthen your voice in the education debate. Our ballot on creating a new union with the NUT – the National Education Union – opens on 27 February. As I explain in my article on page 22, this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for ATL and AMiE members to choose your future. Our lengthy, complex negotiations have led to a proposed new union which embraces the whole education workforce, providing a collegiate approach to workplace support and representation,
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and giving careful consideration to industrial action by ensuring a clear mandate comes from members. For school leaders and college managers, the AMiE section will continue in the new union, with thousands of leaders and managers coming together to share ideas and expertise through CPD and events, to access bespoke resources and advice provided by dedicated professional staff, and to have your views represented by a dedicated committee.
“Your vote matters in this ballot – and I urge you to examine the arguments and return your paper...vote YES to secure your future and to strengthen your voice.” You can read more about AMiE members’ opinions on the future later in this article. Of course change is not easy, and there are concerns among AMiE members about what the future holds for them. I hope the following FAQs will help answer some of your queries and you can always find out more via atl.org.uk/newunion or by emailing email@example.com. Your vote matters in this ballot – and I urge you to examine the arguments and to return your paper. I also ask that you vote YES to secure your future and strengthen your voice.
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F E AT U R E
Helen Porter, who is based in the science department of a Newbury independent school for pupils aged six months to 18 years, explains why she is backing a new union for AMiE members. I’ve been an ATL and then AMiE member for 34 years, teaching biology and science in independent and comprehensive schools and sixth form colleges in Cornwall, Cambridge and Berkshire. I’ve also been an active member for 32 years, gaining great satisfaction from developing education policy, helping members in their working lives, and especially getting involved in issues which affect young women, such as body image and FGM. I think a new union will provide even more opportunities for our leadership members – a dedicated section for leaders and managers; more policy research and campaigns; more support, advice and CPD; and a stronger voice in the education debate through conferences and events designed specifically for leaders and managers. For leaders in particular, with challenges around funding, staff recruitment and retention, place
provision and increasing workloads, I think a new union, where AMiE leaders come together with even more NUT leaders, will strengthen our voice with decision-makers, especially the Government. AMiE has always taken a collegiate approach in the education sector, with members working closely with their colleagues and staff to improve their professional lives and outcomes for their students. A new union will build on this approach, bringing together the wider education sector to campaign on the issues which matter most to members. ATL already works closely with the NUT on policy development and campaigns, particularly over baseline, KS1 and KS2 assessment, pay and pensions, and funding cuts. Together we persuaded the Government to drop plans to force academisation. While the NUT’s approach to industrial relations might appear to be more challenging than ATL’s approach, it’s important to remember that the new union’s rules mean there has to be an indicative ballot before action can be agreed and no member has to take action unless they wish to. Of course, creating a new union from two already successful and influential unions will have its challenges, but here is a chance to bring together our diverse strengths to work together to support each other and our students. The best way for AMiE to retain its core values and culture in a new union is for more AMiE members to get involved in shaping the future.
“A new union, where AMiE leaders come together with even more NUT leaders, will strengthen our voice with decision-makers, especially the Government.”
Lesley Tipping, president of ATL Cymru and assistant principal for curriculum at a college in Wales, says creating the UK’s largest education union will force the Government to listen to the profession. I’ve been a member of AMiE – and predecessor ACM – since the 1990s. For me, the support and advice I have received have been invaluable. So, too, have the resources: the CPD, leadership events and publications which have all been developed with school and college leaders’ needs in mind. That’s why I’m really glad there will be a dedicated leadership section in the new union – it’s important because leaders and managers have specific responsibilities and challenges which require specific support and advice. In particular, I think it’s vital that the new union’s leadership section offers resources and support for leaders who are feeling isolated. There are fewer and fewer of us, especially in the college sector, yet we are expected to do more and more. In further education, we are facing so many challenges. Financially, colleges are being squeezed, being asked to do more with less. For example, the volume of young people in colleges resitting GSCE maths and English is rising, and we are just expected to provide this support without any extra funding.
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F E AT U R E
LESLEY TIPPING In Wales, the number of colleges has gone down from 28 to 13 in five years, meaning the number of senior leaders and managers has been decimated. Those left in post are under huge pressures to deliver. Nobody wants to say too much is being asked of them. So, for me, it’s clear that the support we receive from our union and each other is critical. I think pulling two independently strong unions together to create a new union can only be good for all of us and our students. That’s not to say there won’t be issues to overcome. As long-standing unions, our approaches have often been different. What we need to do is find a middle ground that is best for members but which also best serves students. We need to keep in mind that we are all part of training and educating tomorrow’s generation. The Government seems to be hell-bent on change, yet without a good education profession they aren’t going to be able to achieve their aims, and they certainly aren’t going to be able to create a strong workforce for the future. So I think it’s exactly the right time to create the UK’s biggest education union, with more clout and a louder voice so the Government has to hear us and it has to act on what we have to say.
ANNE MILLIS Anne Millis has been an ATL member for 26 years, and is currently principal of Leadhill Primary School in Castlereagh, Belfast. Anne explains why she is backing a new union for education professionals. As an active member, I believe a new union will strengthen our network of professionals from across the sector, which is great for understanding the bigger picture beyond my own school gates. Already, I share many experiences and ideas with colleagues who work in different sectors and roles, including in England, Scotland and Wales, which not only helps me improve my own practice but also creates a good debate about the way forward for education.
“I think pulling two independently strong unions together to create a new union can only be good for all of us and our students.”
ATL has always sought a win-win when finding ways to improve the working lives of members. In Northern Ireland we face the same issues with budget cuts and lack of investment, and we have heavy workloads which limit the time for members to get active in their union. A new union will bring together members across every role in every workplace to look for positive ways forward for themselves and their pupils. More members will strengthen our voice and influence with decision-makers. At a time when cuts have affected CPD budgets, a new union will bring together the resources and experience of two unions to provide learning and development for members. By working together on issues that affect our specific sectors and roles, as well as the wider profession, we can build relationships and trust across the new union. Of course, any change creates a degree of uncertainty. Some members will feel unsure about losing our identity and will be concerned they will need to be more ‘militant’. ATL’s negotiators have worked hard to make sure our union’s culture and values have a secure place in the new union, and leaders will benefit from enhanced AMiE support. A bigger union does not have to mean ‘militant’, indeed a larger membership brings a stronger voice which needs to be heard and does not need to take action unless it’s the very last resort. I think a new union is a great opportunity for ATL and AMiE members.
“By working together on issues which affect our specific sectors and roles, as well as the wider profession, we can build relationships and trust across the new union.” FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 13
t’s 5.15 on a Monday morning when Josie Whiteley rises. She then drives 85 miles from her home in Barnsley to work at Stockton Riverside College in Stockton-on-Tees, where she is interim head of the creative and digital industries department. It is Thursday evening before she heads home. That was Whiteley’s working week for the 2016 autumn term. Days away from home would not be for everyone, she admits. But at this point in her career, travelling to do short-term contracts
suits her, not least because it allows more time to focus on other important things, including her union involvement. “Interim work allows me more time to focus on my role as AMiE vice president. I now actually have a life. I put my heart and soul into it while I am in a role, and it definitely has challenges. But once the contract is up I can move on and spend some time working on my other interests. The time I have gained allows me to run a small performing and creative arts charity, to be a trustee of a meditation centre and to be a governor at a secondary school,” she says.
It says a lot about the stress and hours involved in senior leadership that swapping permanent work for interim contracts with a long commute brings a better work-life balance. The decision to become freelance was prompted by two events, Whiteley explains – a restructure at Barnsley College – where she was director of arts and headed up the faculty of arts, media and entertainment – and the death of a colleague aged just 40. “Richard was one of the managers working under me. He was talented and hard-working and his death hit me and
SWAPPING PERMANENT EMPLOYMENT FOR SHORT-TERM CONTRACTS HAS GIVEN AMIE VICE PRESIDENT JOSIE WHITELEY MORE FLEXIBILTY AND THE CHANCE TO USE HER SKILLS DIFFERENTLY
Working to live WORDS SALLY GILLEN
14 ELM | FEBRUARY 2017
his other colleagues hard. It was a wake-up call when I realised he was years younger than me. “Thinking about work 24/7 is just not a good way to manage your life. Richard’s death – along with a constant demand in FE for ‘more for less’ – made me think about whether I would be able to continue working at that level until I was 65.” So when voluntary severance came up, Whiteley took it and decided to take a chance on using her skills differently. A spell working voluntarily for her local MP followed and then a former colleague suggested signing up with an agency for interim management work. In April 2014 she become self-employed. The contracts on offer have been interesting, but Whiteley says she has been very selective about what she has taken. “I didn’t leave a full-time permanent role to work long hours for the next 13 years in lots of different places.” Her first role was as interim head of department for creative arts and media at Grimsby Institute of FE & HE for four months. “The role was exhausting but also exhilarating and thoroughly enjoyable. Being new means you need to absorb information very quickly and work hard to develop relationships with your colleagues. It’s challenging, but with a positive attitude and outlook, and by trusting your team, you can travel a long way in a relatively short time.” Much of the stress in senior leadership generated by inspection and regulation pressures, together with an expectation that better results can be delivered year after year with less and less funding, is removed by taking on an interim post. But the daily stress inherent in managing at a senior or middle management level does not disappear. Tough decisions still need to be made, restructures managed, recruitment and funding issues addressed, student behavioural issues dealt with and difficult conversations with under-performing staff confronted. All issues for which a union can offer support and advice. On the face of it, union membership might seem a little pointless if you are self-employed. In fact, says Whiteley, the opposite is true, adding that its many benefits include access to help and support, especially valuable when the short-term nature of interim work can lead to professional isolation.
“THINKING ABOUT WORK 24/7 IS JUST NOT A GOOD WAY TO MANAGE YOUR LIFE...”
“If you’re working somewhere for three or four months then you don’t get to build relationships with colleagues like you do if you’re somewhere for three or four years,” explains Whiteley. “So if you need advice or to discuss with someone how to deal with an issue, you don’t have a ready network of people to talk to. AMiE can provide that instead. You get a very personal service. “The support I received from AMiE when I took voluntary severance was fantastic. It was very helpful that the person supporting me had that understanding of what it is like working in further education,” she says. An AMiE survey found 97% of members rated the advice and support as good or excellent. Whiteley also rates other member benefits such as CPD and the publications, written by education experts on a wide range of leadership and management issues, as invaluable. “The focus on ethical leadership is so important. Seminars such as ‘Treating staff with care’ and ‘Leading with less’ help you keep a ‘can do’ attitude and treat your colleagues properly, even in
the face of challenges. I also feel CPD of this type empowers managers and leaders to go back to their colleges and to challenge others when they see examples of unethical leadership and management.” All these issues can crop up wherever you take on a contract, says Whiteley. She has been struck by how similar the issues are from place to place. Still, interim work offers variety, flexibility and freedom, attractions that have led Whiteley to turn down offers to stay on beyond the length of her contract. “It is lovely to be asked, but after 28 years of full-time work, the time is right to work differently and with more flexibility. I think we are going to see more people taking on interim posts during this period of area reviews and college mergers because colleges are not always in a position to offer permanent roles when they are heading towards mergers,” she predicts. “Being in a union is important if you are self-employed – not only because there are huge benefits in terms of support, good quality booklets, and insurance and legal advice should you need it – but because it helps to keep you connected to the education community and the important issues,” she says. “I also feel that through the union we can make a difference as a group of ‘experts’, to help move education in the right direction rather than in the direction we seem to be heading. That is important to me and one of the reasons I first decided to stand for AMiE Council. I wanted to have a voice. “The possibility of the National Education Union – if members vote for this - by amalgamating with the NUT is hugely exciting. We would be the biggest education union in the country and our voice would be significantly louder.” FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 15
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R E S OUR CE S/C ON TA C T S
HOW WILL YOUR SCHOOL FARE UNDER THE NEW FUNDING FORMULA?
An interactive website has been developed by ATL-AMiE and the NUT that allows users to see how individual schools will be impacted by the national funding formula (NFF). The website, launched at the end of 2016, has been updated following the publication of the NFF by the Government. By entering a postcode on www. schoolcuts.org.uk, users can see all the schools in an area and how much funding they will receive between now and 2020. ATL-AMiE has raised concerns that 98% of schools will lose funding between now and 2020. ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “All of the Government’s warm words about protecting the poorest children look meaningless. If the Government doesn’t increase the overall amount of funding for schools, a generation of children will have a severely restricted education with nothing beyond the basic curriculum – and thousands of school staff will lose their jobs. “Parents and pupils will be furious that the Government missed the opportunity with the NFF to properly fund all schools and every child’s education.”
AMiE at Annual Conference Funding will be high on the agenda at this year’s Annual Conference. Hundreds of members will attend the event in Liverpool between 10 and 12 April, debating motions including a call for the Executive Committee to lobby the Government for more funding for post-16 education and a boost in school funding. At the time of going to press, two motions specifically for leaders were also due to be debated, one calling on the Executive Committee to develop and publicise a leadership code of practice that sets out the conditions and behaviours that enable leaders to thrive. Another calls for the Executive to work with the National Governors’ Association to lobby for more governor training and advice and more effective avenues for remedial action if standards drop. An AMiE sector zone where members can learn more about how to deal with the challenges of education leadership today will also be on offer, and there will also be a focus on ways to improve staff retention at a time of teacher shortages. Follow the debates at www.atl.org.uk. Developing outstanding tutoring skills Places are available on three training days which are funded by the Union Learning Fund project aimed at AMiE and ATL members. Topics covered include current approaches to tutoring and ways to develop an individual’s or team’s tutoring skills and practice. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend.
LEADERSHIP COURSES FOR MEMBERS AMiE has a UK-wide network of elected representatives and members of staff who can help you with your queries. For more information on your regional contact and their contact details, please see amie.atl.org.uk/ about-amie/your-union/contact-us.asp. Here is a selection of course names and dates. CHALLENGING CONVERSATIONS: AIMING FOR A WIN-WIN OUTCOME Using case studies and scenarios, and with the application of practical diagnostic tools, you will gain a deeper understanding of how to manage tricky situations and tricky people. 12 MAY OXFORD
LEADING OUTSTANDING TEACHING AND LEARNING: GIVING PUPILS A FIRST-CLASS EXPERIENCE This course will help you to understand how to create a vision and climate for outstanding teaching and learning, and explore the key success factors necessary. 23 JUNE BRISTOL
PREPARING FOR RETIREMENT This one-day course is ideal for people within five years of retirement and includes presentations from pensions experts. This seminar is open to all members and their partners. 20 MAY BIRMINGHAM 1 JULY LONDON
For more information on these courses and to book, please see www.amie.atl.org.uk/join-in/cpd/overview.asp.
ABOUT AMiE We are the only union to represent managers and leaders across the entire education sector, providing: • help, advice and support: a confidential helpline, online guidance and a network of professional and experienced regional officers to support you in your role as both an employee, and as a manager or leader • excellent personal and professional development: accredited training and development opportunities for you in your role as a manager or leader • a voice in the education debate: an opportunity to influence policy and get involved in issues that affect you • publications and resources: a range of free publications focused on contemporary leadership issues • more for your membership: discounts and rewards for you and your family on a range of products and services. And, with 50% off your first year’s membership*, there’s never been a better time to join AMiE. Join online at www.amie.atl.org.uk/join or call 0845 057 7000 (local call). Let AMiE take you further. 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.
CONTACTING AMiE National helpline Tel: 01858 464171 Email: email@example.com
AMiE 35 The Point, Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7QU Tel: 01858 461110 Fax: 01858 461366 www.amie.atl.org.uk
Mark Wright Director of AMiE Tel: 020 7782 1530 Mobile: 07436 805330 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org For membership queries, please contact the membership department on 020 7782 1602 or email: email@example.com. *TERMS AND CONDITIONS APPLY, VISIT WWW.AMIE.ATL.ORG.UK FOR FULL SUBSCRIPTION DETAILS, MEMBERSHIP ELIGIBILITY AND FURTHER INFORMATION.
FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 17
Time to take the reins? AUTHOR AND FORMER HEADTEACHER DR JILL BERRY EXPLAINS WHAT YOU SHOULD CONSIDER BEFORE MAKING THE TRANSITION FROM DEPUTY TO HEAD... AND WHAT LIES BEYOND WORDS SALLY GILLEN
here are good reasons to apply for a headship. And there are bad. If stepping in for your head in their absence makes you feel terrified but excited, rather than sick with dread, and the prospect of their return deflates rather than elates you, you’re probably ready. On the other hand, if you are looking to escape a job that bores you, believe being a head is less work than being a deputy, or you are succumbing to pressure from others to move up the ladder, you probably aren’t. Why? This is the first and perhaps most important question you should ask yourself if you are considering moving into headship, says former headteacher and author of Making the Leap, Dr Jill Berry. Her book, which she wrote after carrying out doctoral research into what she describes as the fascinating transition from deputy headship to headship, is focused on deputies moving to headships at a different school, and covers issues including what you need to consider before applying, writing a strong application, making the most of the lead-in period between appointment and starting, and understanding the key differences between deputy headship and headship. On the last point, Berry says deputies are largely operational, focused on keeping the school’s wheels oiled, whereas a head is often a figurehead with a more strategic remit. 18 ELM | FEBRUARY 2017
“Being a deputy is good preparation for headship, but you need to recognise that becoming a head is not just more of the same,” she says. “And you need to be prepared to embrace that.” Next, consider your sphere of influence. “As a classroom teacher, you make a difference to the pupils in your room, but as a head you have the chance to make a difference to all the pupils in the school. Do you want that opportunity?” If your answer is yes, you need to think about whether you are temperamentally suited to what is, despite some people’s misconceptions, a tough job – which will at times make you unpopular with your staff, where you will potentially face necessary but challenging questions from your governing board and, on particularly bad days, doubt whether you are any good at leading at all. “Temperament is really important,” says Berry. “You need to have strong values, a sense of moral purpose and good judgement. The leaders who worry me are those who never have self-doubt. I had days as a head when I thought I was barely getting away with it, but you need to keep a sense of perspective, understand there will be ebb and flow, and, on days like that, remind yourself of your successes.” Exploiting the time you have between being appointed and starting in the role offers an opportunity to prepare and, in turn, boost your confidence. “It is likely you will have at least two terms to do this. Read widely, go on courses, shadow people doing jobs that you don’t really understand. You will have time to think
AMiE director Mark Wright says: “A common issue that new heads can face is staff loyalty remaining with the previous head and the approach they took, which may have been right for the school at one stage but if it isn’t now then you need to change it. Meanwhile, there can be issues upwards too, with the chair of governors perhaps using the change in headship to power grab some operational areas that are rightfully fulfilled by the head. It’s useful to call on AMiE for advice at this stage while it’s still a leadership issue rather than flounder and struggle until it requires casework support down the line.” For advice please call AMiE on 01858 464171.
“BEING A DEPUTY IS GOOD PREPARATION FOR HEADSHIP, BUT YOU NEED TO RECOGNISE THAT BECOMING A HEAD IS NOT JUST MORE OF THE SAME... AND YOU NEED TO EMBRACE THAT.”
Making the Leap by Dr Jill Berry
about where your weaknesses are maybe you need to know more about finance, marketing - and then set about learning more about those areas.” Once in post, resilience is a must. “It comes partly with time,” says Berry. “I was a better head in year 10 than year one. Sensitivity is important, because to lead well you have to be able to understand feelings and empathise. But you do have to be able to get over things quite quickly.” On her occasional difficult days as head, Berry says she reached for her ‘happy file’: a lever arch box crammed with emails, letters from parents praising staff and the school, positive media coverage. Testaments to the school’s success. “By the time I left I had three huge files,” she laughs. “I’ll enjoy reading those when I’m an old lady.” Remembering her 10 years as a head, Berry says she was struck initially by how moving up just one level fundamentally changed how she was perceived by staff, in ways that as a down-to-earth person she was neither expecting nor entirely comfortable with. “Some people love status. They may as well have ‘headteacher’ tattooed across their forehead. I’m not one of them.
I wasn’t naive, I knew that as head I wasn’t just one of the troops, but I could divide the staff into two groups. One group respected the role but also saw me as a person, and the other saw me only as the head. That was their issue rather than mine.” She didn’t make an issue of it. Nor did she insist that staff call her ‘Jill’ - her preference - when it became clear that some wanted to call her ‘Mrs Berry’ or simply ‘The Head’. Building good relationships and communicating well with staff, parents and governors is vital to a successful headship, she says. “With governors, you need to manage upwards. As a head, you have to help the governing board do their job well. They are there to provide challenge and support, and the balance is important. When I had a new chair, I invited them to shadow me so they would understand my role. Be confident about doing things like that.” From your first day as head, remember to listen, Berry advises. “Steaming in and announcing to everyone what your vision is for the school won’t lead to success. You need to listen, reflect and learn. You never stop learning.”
Applying for headship: key principles for making a successful application Tempting though it may be to have a generic letter of application that you tweak for a new vacancy, such letters rarely impress. As a head I have seen applications where the name of the previous school has not been changed. Needless to say, I did not interview such candidates. Preparing an application for an audience of governors is different in a number of ways from targeting your application at a headteacher. The issue of how you will fit/match the school is nowhere more critical than when you are readying yourself to be a school leader. If you are finding it incredibly difficult to demonstrate you are a good match, this tells you something. Your application needs to demonstrate clearly that you have thought about the needs of that particular school at this point in its educational journey. How can you build on its past successes and achieve more in the future? You aren’t claiming to be perfect, to have all the answers or to be the finished article. Managing the lead-in period The dynamic between you and the head you succeed can be a tricky one to navigate. Ask yourself: do you have any sense of how your outgoing head feels about your appointment? Do they appear to be satisfied with what they have achieved? Do the governors appear happy to be welcoming a new head or are they sorry to see your predecessor move on? Soon after your appointment, visit the school to spend some time with the outgoing head. This will give you the opportunity to build a positive relationship with him or her. To order a copy of Making the Leap for £12.99, go to www. crownhouse.co.uk.
FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 19
Your duties towards students with special educational needs
How to handle an unethical request I am a headteacher being pressured by governors to advise the parents of children with special educational needs that they would be happier at another school that can better meet their needs. They are worried that pupils with SEND may bring down the school’s results. I feel uncomfortable and reluctant to do as asked. I believe this is unethical. I am not surprised you feel uncomfortable. Not only would this be unethical, it could be unlawful. Firstly, you should tactfully make the ethical case for keeping these children, and explain to the governors the potential risks if their views ever became public. Start by considering what is really happening. Are the parents happy with SEND provision? What sort of progress are the children making? Ask your SENCO for their views; and for feedback from parents and children. The wishes of the children and their parents are vital when it comes to SEND provision. Unless the parents are unhappy with what your school is doing, there can be no justification for suggesting their child be moved to another school. If your governors are trying to stop children with SEND being enrolled in the first place, remind them that Government data on SEND 20 ELM | FEBRUARY 2017
tribunals shows 88% award in favour of the parents. Ask them if it is worth fighting and wasting resources if the child is likely to be awarded a place at the school. In England, The Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice 0 to 25 Years (January 2015) provides statutory guidance on the Children and Families Act 2014 and associated regulations. It puts the wishes, views and needs of the child and their parents at the centre of SEND provision. The principles set out in the code are designed to support a range
action every time a child with SEND joins the school? Make the case for inclusiveness. Use your school’s successes, feedback from parents, and refer to your school’s strategy, values and public profile. Finally, be prepared to put this in the context of your own integrity and values, pointing out that you need to maintain the trust of your staff and that of the parents. How you approach the governors will need some consideration. Depending on the strength of your relationship with the chair, you may
“WHAT THE GOVERNORS ARE ASKING YOU TO DO GOES AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF INCLUSIVENESS AND EQUALITY...” of outcomes, including a focus on inclusive practice and removing barriers to learning. Under the Equality Act 2010, schools have a duty to take reasonable steps to avoid discrimination; and in terms of promoting equality, to remove or minimise disadvantages to children with disabilities. What the governors are asking you to do goes against the spirit of inclusiveness and equality as set out in the code. If the true motives of the governors ever became known, it would be a serious embarrassment for the school, and leave it open to a possible legal challenge. By law all children whose SEN statement or education, health and care plan names the school must be admitted. Surely the governors don’t believe they can repeat such unethical
prefer an informal chat. If you feel it would be better discussed at a governors’ meeting, then perhaps table a report about your successes supporting children with SEND; and put this in the context of the school’s duties under the code and Equality Act. This may be enough to make the issue go away without ever mentioning the ethical position of the governors. Note: In Wales, the Additional Learning Needs Transformation Programme will result in a new code to replace the current Special Educational Needs Code of Practice for Wales. On this issue, however, the ethical arguments are the same. 3 MORE INFO Go to www.atl.org.uk/achievementforall to read about the code in our publication Achievement for All.
U N I O N M AT T E R S
TWO PROBLEMS, ONE VOICE The twin difficulties of teacher recruitment and retention were recently recognised in two reports. To build on this breakthrough ATL and NUT members should create a new union and speak as one WORDS SALLY GILLEN
breakthrough in the long-running battle to get the Government to admit that there is a problem with both recruitment and retention was achieved last year, with the help of two hard-hitting reports. The MPs on the public accounts committee published a report on the growing problem – pulling no punches. “It was very clear that they recognised the scale of the crisis – a crisis we have been highlighting for quite a few years,” says ATL senior policy adviser Alison Ryan. In another report, the National Audit Office (NAO) warned that despite the fact that the Government spends £700 million annually on training teachers, for the past four years it has missed its recruitment targets. Both of the 2016 reports provided a welcome boost to the work that ATL-AMiE and other unions have been doing to press the Government to recognise the extent of the problem and to take action to address it, adds Ryan. “Over the past few years, we have been hearing from members, particularly those in leadership, of the long time it takes to fill positions,
frequently resulting in the need for a number of interview rounds or an inability to fill them at all,” she says. Recruitment agencies charging high fees are increasingly being used by headteachers. In further education, recruitment and retention problems are the same. Leaders are also hampered by their inability to match the pay offered by many schools. With a school’s success resting largely on the calibre of its staff, headteachers know it is not enough to simply recruit “a body in front of a classroom”, argues Ryan. “You need someone who is going to stay, who has the skills to do their job well, because there are pressures on schools to have good outcomes. Ofsted may be attempting a more constructive approach but it is still very much seen by the profession as breathing down the necks of leaders.” If inspection bodies find the teaching in a school is poor, the head’s job can be on the line, even if they have been forced to rely on supply teachers, newly qualified teachers, and those teaching outside their specialism, because there are insufficient numbers of teachers – a problem not of their making. Heads are reluctant to talk frankly about their difficulties finding staff
“DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE GOVERNMENT SPENDS £700 MILLI0N ANNUALLY ON TRAINING TEACHERS, FOR THE PAST FOUR YEARS IT HAS MISSED ITS RECRUITMENT TARGETS.”
because they are concerned about deterring potential recruits who may worry they are joining a school where staff are overworked, says Ryan. In this context, unions must keep up the pressure on the Government to tackle the causes of recruitment and retention problems. The Government may have been forced to recognise that there is a problem – as a result of unions’ campaigning and the findings of two major reports – but it has yet to acknowledge the scale of it. The problem is twofold: not enough teachers are being trained in the first place (the NAO report says that the teacher supply model is not fit for purpose) and record numbers of teachers are leaving the profession within five years, which in turn leads to the loss of future middle leaders. A new union, bringing together ATL and NUT members to create the National Education Union, would help increase the power of our message on this issue, says Ryan. “A joint union would help because our voice would be bigger. “We would have close to half a million members,” she adds. “We have been raising the issue of teacher shortages for a number of years, made more powerful by the inclusion of leadership voices and voices from the classroom. Initially, the Government tried to dismiss our concerns, calling us ‘enemies of promise’ (thank you, Mr Gove). However, if you have half a million members of your education workforce telling you something in one united voice, it will be far more difficult for the Government not to listen.” FEBRUARY 2017 | ELM 21
s we move towards half-term and hopefully the start of spring, there are exciting times ahead for ATL and AMiE. In the next fortnight, eligible members will receive a ballot paper in the post asking you whether you will vote yes to the National Education Union (NEU), an amalgamation between AMiE–ATL and the NUT. I hope that you will vote yes and I want to briefly explain why. It is my judgement that very few, if any, school leaders or college managers could look at the state of education in their sector and say that things are going well. Further education has suffered the worst from continual policy tsunamis as successive Governments, unclear about what they want from the sector, impose wave upon wave of ‘reforms’ to funding and structures, culminating in the rushed and botched area reviews. School leaders have been required to manage a raft of poorly conceived and inadequately managed policy reforms – including changes to the curriculum and national assessment at primary and secondary level, which have left their teachers demoralised and exhausted. Government ministers continue to insist that the teacher supply crisis is a figment of school leaders’ imaginations, while the National Audit Office concluded that the Department for Education “does not understand the difficult reality that many schools face in recruiting teachers”. No education system can exceed the quality of its teaching and lecturing workforce. But school leaders and college managers are being held
22 ELM | FEBRUARY 2017
accountable for things beyond their control, struggling to provide the best education possible for their students, hamstrung by inadequate funding and supplies of teachers and lecturers, with an inspection regime which does not take into account the realities of the sector, whose inspection judgements can negatively impact the careers of school leaders and college managers. Faced with these realities, the ATL Executive Committee focused on what could be done to improve the situation for education professionals. The Executive came to the conclusion that a stronger voice was needed and that amalgamating with another union, the NUT, to form the NEU would give AMiE and ATL members better protection, better representation, and benefits from the combined resources of what would be the fourth largest union in the TUC with triple the number of school leaders and college managers in membership.
TIME TO HAVE YOUR SAY M A RY B O U ST E D, AT L G E N E R A L S E C R E TA RY
“I strongly believe that unity is strength and that the collective voice of the NEU, a union that would have approaching half a million members, is what is needed in order to transform the working lives of education professionals.” For AMiE members in particular, bringing together the thousands of leaders and managers who are members of ATL and NUT can only mean greater strength for our campaigning and negotiations, as well as providing enhanced support and representation through the AMiE section. While the proposal to form the NEU has been overwhelmingly welcomed as an idea whose time has come, some AMiE and ATL members undoubtedly feel very strongly that they joined AMiE and ATL because of its more professional, moderate approach to Government and to taking industrial action. ATL’s negotiators in talks with the NUT were very aware of these members’ views. That is why the new union rules state that indicative ballots must be held before action can go ahead, to ensure the widest support of members, and no member will be forced to take action or be penalised for not taking action. I strongly believe that unity is strength and that the collective voice of the NEU, a union that would have approaching half a million members, is what is needed in order to transform the working lives of education professionals. The NEU would be able to offer so much more to its members – more protection at work; more professional advice and guidance to leaders and managers; and a stronger voice which the Government would have to heed. I would be joint general secretary of the NEU, providing guidance in its formative years. Please vote ‘YES’.
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Shape the future: why you should vote for a new union.