Page 1

February 2014

Education Leader and Manager

In this issue


Fair funding is worth fighting for

4 Up, up and away: record numbers join AMiE 6 Internationalising the Northern Ireland debate 7 All in a day’s work 8 Let’s connect with parents 10  Ageing workforces 14  The last word AMiE is ATL’s section for leaders in education

Cover story

Fair funding is worth fighting 1 provide small start-up grants to enable Mark Wright, national official, leadership and management, AMiE

It could be very easy for a membership organisation drawn so heavily into situations where working relationships have broken down to become quite negative about the education landscape.


And not least because, given the huge policy turmoil prompting significant changes to the system, one in eight of you called upon the union for its casework service last year. This includes many who had assumed they were relatively safe in their role. While AMiE presses for improvements to the education system to help mitigate against undue future shocks to members’ working lives, we are keen to do this in a way that is positive, pragmatic and fair. Constructive challenge is not the same as complaining and there are times when it is particularly useful to voice your views. One of these is in the run up to an election; another is when funding approaches are being decided. Both of these apply to England so it’s timely to look now at what is happening around the key issue of funding.

Changes are a-coming

It makes little sense to talk of a national fair funding formula without ensuring that the funding received by FE somehow corresponds fairly with the new allocation

The Westminster government, having ring-fenced the education budget up to age 16, is making efforts to realise efficiency gains. While this has been mooted for some time the Department for Education has recently made it clear that it plans to:

1 introduce a simple indicator of overall school efficiency so that schools can compare their effectiveness with each other

1 develop a benchmarking report card comparing financial and performance data with similar schools

1 work with schools to exploit economies of scale in national purchasing and develop a real time price benchmarking system

clusters of primary schools to take on a school business manager

1 strengthen expectation of governors’ roles in driving financial efficiency and develop financial training specifically for governors via the National College

1 remove unnecessary restrictions that constrain how workforce decisions can be tailored to the requirements of individual schools. Time will tell whether or not the latter restrictions really are ‘unnecessary’ given the tendency for one person’s unnecessary restriction to be viewed as an essential safeguard by another. We would, of course, support any drive for greater efficiency. However, one area that is fraught with less clarity is the new national fair funding formula, which the government plans to consult on now, and is due to be introduced after the next election. The national fair funding formula will be a significant reform. The main proposal is to replace the current system with a simpler one where each school’s funding is calculated centrally according to a single national formula, with only some discretion for local authorities (LAs) to vary funding around these levels. The intention is to make the funding of schools more transparent and more consistent across the country. School funding currently exhibits a wide variation, with sometimes more than £3,000 per pupil difference between schools. While this variation arises largely because schools differ in their characteristics, funding levels can vary widely between schools with similar characteristics. Some, like f40 for example, might say that the current funding formula has favoured inner city schools to the detriment of those in rural and coastal areas; f40 is the name for The Campaign for Fairer Funding in Education and represents a group of the lowest funded education authorities in England. This helps explain why attainment in coastal towns has been below average. Funding formulas do matter. Calling the new approach ‘fair funding’ is a nod to a heavily contentious issue but whatever the final outcome there is likely to be a new set of winners and losers. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned that any new funding formula must be designed extremely carefully to avoid embedding new anomalies. For example, the formula could lead to a redistribution of funding from secondary to primary schools.

g for While this could be prevented by adjusting the ratio of secondary to primary school funding it is important to recognise that current deprivation funding (measured by the implicit premium for free school meals [FSM]) is geared strongly towards secondary schools. See the IFS report entitled School Funding Reform at

This sounds like a sensible approach but needs to be set against budgets that were cut unexpectedly by 1.5% for this academic year and institutions have now been warned about cuts of “at least five per cent” in 2014-15.

The crucial question for the government is whether the advantages of a national formula – simplicity, transparency and responsiveness of funding – exceed the costs that the adjustment process would entail. However, maintaining the status quo is undesirable. Without reform, school funding is likely to become less transparent and less related to educational needs over time. The fact that there will be winners and losers per se is not necessarily an argument against reform. If it is thought that a national funding formula represents the most desirable system, then the numbers of winners and losers merely show how far the status quo is from an ideal scenario. Moreover, failing to implement substantial reforms to school funding would lead to a further drift away from the desirable system and a greater cost of implementing reform towards it in the future.

Not least is the anomaly whereby schools and academies are able to reclaim their VAT while sixthform colleges are unable to do so, which again contributes to a less than level playing field. This inequality is important given the risks involved in having lower funding than others in similar contexts.

However, increasingly it makes little sense to talk of a national fair funding formula without ensuring that the funding received by FE somehow corresponds fairly with the new allocation. Raising the participation age to 18 at the start of the next academic year will make redundant the distinction between compulsory education (to 16) and post-16 education; it will all be compulsory to age 19 and all stages of education ought to be governed by similar rules of fair play when it comes to funding. FE currently suffers in funding terms in comparison with age five up to 16 and higher education (HE), and recent government announcements about funding for 18-year-olds will impact disproportionately on learners in FE, ie the majority. Indeed, AMiE has asked the Minister for Skills, Matthew Hancock, to reconsider this manifestly unfair policy (visit http://amie. to see AMiE’s letter).

The equity of education needs to be safeguarded to ensure that members fulfilling similar roles are not to be treated differently by the system simply because of where they happen to work. This is the reality faced by many members at present, even though they may be blissfully unaware of the extent to which they are not working on a level playing field. Please participate when you have a chance to be consulted over funding change as it is an area that has a huge impact on the fairness of the system and can impinge on your own ability to be treated fairly in the work you do.

The FE funding picture in Wales is equally challenging. In 2011, Wales introduced three-year budgets for post-16 education in order to bring stability to the system. The vision for this review was to create a new system that is about investing in learner journeys that improve learners’ life chances.

For good reason the late revision and notification of the funding allocation caused substantial consternation and anger among college managers in Wales.

Funding and inspection Although funding is not necessarily the prime determinant of quality of outcomes it is a significant factor and it makes fair funding all the more important in relation to inspection. A one-sizefits-all system of inspection (such as Ofsted, which itself suffers a lack of quality and fairness) means that some members are at a distinct disadvantage given that others will have the good fortune to be in institutions that can afford to address core issues which can otherwise detract from learner outcomes.


College leadership and union support As well as recruiting new members directly into AMiE, we are retaining members too with over 1,000 in the last 12 months moving over to AMiE from ATL when they were promoted to a management or leadership position. Much of this success is due to an increase in reps over the past 12 months and the activities they have carried out to recruit their colleagues, coupled with the excellent service provided by our team of exceptional regional officers. Indeed, one in eight members have contacted us in the last year for help with an employment issue. Not surprisingly, the number one reason given for joining AMiE is word of mouth about our services. Members that have used our casework service, attended our training courses or read our really useful leadership publications have all passed on the good word to their colleagues. As a result, our membership keeps going up and up. So, we will keep on working hard so you can keep on letting your colleagues know how good we are!


Up, up and away Sara Shaw, head of AMiE

Much of this success is due to an increase in reps over the past 12 months and the activities they have carried out to recruit their colleagues

I am incredibly pleased to report that for the third year running AMiE membership has grown. Over the past year, we have seen record numbers of leaders and managers joining AMiE with an increase of 38% in the number of members recruited from the FE sector and 67% from the schools sector when compared to 2012 which, it is important to note, was up on 2011. This has resulted in an overall net increase in membership of nine per cent for 2013, taking us to well over 8,000 members and continuing to grow.

But, although all of the above are very important elements of what we do, we do much more than that. We have been busy working on your behalf behind the scenes, putting forward your views and concerns on inspections, governance, pay and conditions, curriculum, funding, apprenticeships, career advice, information and guidance - to name but a few of the key areas we have been involved in. Given there is unlikely to be any let up to the pace of change, we are keen to hear from more of you about what matters to you, your experiences and concerns. Please do join the online AMiE policy panel by outlining the areas you would be willing to contribute your thoughts to (it will take no more than a few minutes to complete) - see page 7 for further details. You will have noticed our new logo and branding which has been gradually moving us on so we are better aligned with ATL’s branding. We have been very careful to ensure the separate AMiE identity is retained as you told us in previous research that this was important to you. We think it works really well and hope you like it. If you haven’t already, visit our new look website at You will discover lots of useful information, including the resource bank launched last year. The resource bank is where you will locate copies of our publications (including our two new publications, Data Gold and Improving Performance Through Critical Conversations), our regularly updated employment relations leaflets, our good practice guides, model policies and national joint agreements.

So, how about the year ahead? We have again set ourselves some challenging targets for recruitment and retention, and will be prioritising rep recruitment to continue our organising success on the ground. Anyone interested in becoming a rep should contact Ellie Manns, development officer, at; we would love to hear from you. All reps are supported by our team of regional officers, given one-to-one or group training and provided with our reps’ booklet, which details all you need to know about being a rep. We will continue our work with stakeholders from across the education sector, putting forward your views and concerns in particular, working with relevant agencies on governance, inspections, careers, funding and professional development. We have identified a number of organisations where we wish to develop closer working relations to help us get the right messages across to those in the current government as well as the opposition in readiness for the next election. We have a great line up for our annual leadership seminar, which will take place on Friday 28 March in central London (see page 5). This year we will be looking at inspection and governance, being held to account and considering an alternative more positive, sector-owned model of inspection. We also have two new publications planned: The Importance of Well-being in the Workplace and Leading Learning, and we also have lots of CPD on offer (see AMiE’s website for details). Finally, having been at the helm for three years and after 19 years’ service it is time for me to move on to pastures new; I will be leaving AMiE at the end of February. I would like to take this opportunity to say what a privilege it has been to serve you all and to thank you for making my time at ACM and AMiE so rewarding and enjoyable. I have learnt a great deal over the years and will take away with me some wonderful memories and a heap of knowledge and experience which I will ensure is put to good use in my future endeavours. Peter Pendle will be returning at the start of March to take over as chief executive of AMiE for the immediate future.

New Year honours Many congratulations to Sacha Corcoran who has been honoured in the Queen’s New Year honours list with an MBE for services to FE. Sacha, deputy director, City & Islington College said, “To receive an MBE is a huge honour and one that I hope I can use to inspire and motivate young people to dream big. “My life wasn’t easy growing up, as a homeless teenager, living in hostels and becoming a teenage mum I would often reflect on how my life would pan out. This award is for all young people who think they can’t turn things around and for all the staff at the college and in FE who dedicate their lives to making a difference.”

Held to account: governance, inspection and you Join us for our annual leadership seminar, entitled ‘Held to account: governance, inspection and you,’ which will be held on Friday 28 March at the Holiday Inn in Bloomsbury in London, and will this time examine topics outlined by members as key development areas for leaders and managers. We will focus on governance and inspection from a leadership perspective and explore ways in which these can be improved so that you can become more effectively (and supportively) held to account. Speakers include Emma Knights, chief executive of the National Governors’ Association, Anthony Bravo, principal, Basingstoke College of Technology, and Mike Claddingbowl, Ofsted regional director. This event, free to AMiE members, will provide a rich learning environment and an opportunity to contribute to ideas for more empowering and effective accountability arrangements than those available at present. Past evaluations have deemed these events well worthwhile so do please take the time to attend. Please email visit AMiE’s website at

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Follow AMiE on Twitter @atl_amie

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The view from Northern Ireland

Internationalising the Northern Ireland debate Mark Langhammer, AMiE regional officer, Northern Ireland

The publication of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Report of Evaluation and Assessment in Education (Northern Ireland, United Kingdom) in December is a landmark document1.


For school leaders it is vital to understand the ‘policy effect’ of the report for the future. The report focused on how assessment and evaluation systems could deliver improvements for pupils. Carried out in early 2013 by an independent, international expert team, the report states that many aspects of our assessment and evaluation system are thoughtfully designed. The OECD team identifies a number of ways to further embed this work for the benefit of the learner.

1 http://www. education/school/ Reviews%20 of%20 Evaluation%20 and%20 Assessment%20 in%20 Education%20 Northern%20 Ireland.pdf 2 PIRLS, an international comparison study of reading achievement at ages nine-10 and TIMSS, a parallel study of mathematics and science at ages nine-10.

The minister, John O’Dowd, opened a ‘report-back’ session of educational stakeholders at Stranmillis University College on 17 January 2014 and stressed the deliberate nature of his choice to ‘internationalise’ our education debate. Mr O’Dowd said: “The review was carried out across 26 education systems so that we could learn from the experience of others and drive improvements in educational outcomes. I felt we needed our system to be inspected and evaluated in the same way we inspect our schools.” The report has certainly shone a light on many aspects of our system. It highlights the need for more professional development for teachers and recommends a review of the current teacher competence model and of the teacher appraisal process. While the report was written before the publication of the Programme for International Student Assessment results, it highlights that average performance of students at post-primary level in international comparisons have not kept pace with those in the more comprehensive primary sector.

Recent PIRLS and TIMSS results2 showed that in reading, Northern Ireland pupils were ranked 5th out of the 45 participating countries - the highest ranking English speaking country. Pupils in Northern Ireland significantly outperformed pupils in 36 of the countries that participated in PIRLS 2011. The OECD report highlights equity concerns at post-primary level, notably the extreme social segregation and the high concentration of socially and economically disadvantaged students in the non-selective sector. The minister commented: “In many aspects it tells us what we already knew – that our post-primary system is not performing at the level our primary sector is; our non-selective sector caters for high levels of students from less affluent backgrounds; and more work is required if we are to properly embed the new assessment arrangements.” It also poses many challenges in addressing the highly fragmented school system:

1 the delivery of the single education authority

1 involving teachers in the policy development process

1 moving away from a culture dominated by testing to one where teacher assessment is highly valued. The report’s 15 recommendations focused on teacher professionalism, reviewing the teacher competence model, and ensuring teacher appraisal is followed up with adequate professional learning opportunities. Recommendations also concentrated on the effective implementation of the evaluation and assessment framework, improving the use of levels of progression for formative assessment, promoting the exchange of pupil information from primary to post-primary schools, and validating the central diagnostic tools. On inspection, the focus is for a healthy balance between external challenge and support to schools; a focus on self-evaluation capacity, with movement towards risk-based assessment. Finally, the report sought to raise the profile of equity goals and research effective ways to monitor and report these. For a summary of the OECD recommendations, contact

Employment matters

All in a day’s work David Green, director of employment services, AMiE

Towards the end of last year a member contacted me in a very distressed state. She was an assistant headteacher who was being bullied by other members of the senior management team. She described being interrupted and shouted down in meetings, and being ignored or marginalised at other times. Unfortunately, the headteacher, while being sympathetic in private, did nothing to stop the behaviour. Not surprisingly, having tried to deal with the matter informally, the member felt she needed our help. This member was one of nearly a thousand AMiE members who sought our help last year. Being bullied, of course, is just one of the many issues we deal with on a daily basis. But the biggest single issue facing AMiE members in 2013 was management restructuring. Of members seeking help, some 30% contacted us on this matter, making 2013 a particularly bad year in terms of numbers put at risk of redundancy. After restructuring, the most common reasons for seeking AMiE support were grievances (eight per cent), contractual matters (eight per cent), capability (seven per cent) and disciplinary problems (six per cent). Unfortunately, some of the issues we dealt with were made more difficult by some appalling employer practices. For example, one member was called into HR and told that her post had gone, and that she had to take a completely new role. There was no consultation and the member was thrown in at the deep end without any support or training. Not surprisingly she struggled and ended up taking a considerable amount of sick leave. This approach could so easily have been avoided through proper consultation, consideration and support. Whether it is a lack of HR training, or a lack of integrity on the part of the employer, the long-term impact of such an approach can be damaging on both morale and reputation. The losers ultimately, are not just the individuals affected, but the institution itself and the students taught there. So, what happened to the member who was bullied? She took out a grievance with our support, but eventually the stress and lack of official action from the school took its toll and AMiE negotiated an exit package for her to leave the job. Follow David Green @DavidG_atl_amie

AMiE policy panel: have your say on education Please consider giving up a small amount of time to join AMiE’s policy panel. Following the call in the previous edition of ELM, we still require people to register their willingness to let us know what they think about key issues. AMiE has a broad membership so it’s important you do not assume others will represent your role or educational context. Please spare no more than half an hour every two months contributing your thoughts on areas of interest to you via AMiE’s policy panel. You can sign up to as many topics as you like among the following, or suggest others we ought to be including – we are led by you on this:

1 inspection 1 pay and conditions (including performance-related pay)

1 changes to national curriculum 1 curriculum and qualifications (and league tables)

1 governance and leadership capacity 1 funding 1 teacher training/recruitment 1 free schools/forced academisation 1 work stress/workload 1 apprenticeships/traineeships 1 other – what key topic have we missed? Please go to www.surveymonkey. com/s/ZLDQ72Y and express your preferences. In case others wish to add to the comments already received, we will publish the outcomes from this survey, as well as any comments received via email, in future editions of ELM; this will hopefully help shape education. For further information on the policy panel please email Mark Wright at AMiE has opportunities to represent your views so it is important that we do that from as sound an evidence-base as possible. Many thanks to those of you who have put yourselves forward, we will be in touch.


Structured conversations about learning


Let’s connect with parents Professor Sonia Blandford, founder and chief executive of Achievement for All 3As

1 Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 848 respondents in England aged 16+ who are parents or legal guardians of a child aged five to 18, living at home and in full-time education. Interviews were conducted face-to-face using the Ipsos MORI CAPIbus between 24 May-11 June 2013. Data are weighted to match the profile of the target audience.

An approach in which parents and teachers set aside time for in-depth conversations about their children’s learning is having a remarkable effect in hundreds of schools. Professor Sonia Blandford is founder and chief executive of Achievement for All 3As. The charity has launched a training resource available online or face-to-face to help schools, LAs and clinical commissioning groups prepare for the September 2014 introduction of the Education Health and Care Plan and Code of Practice. On the face of it most parents say their relations with schools are OK, but when you dig deeper there are causes for concern. According to a recent survey carried out by Achievement for All 3As1 with Ipsos Mori, 50% of parents said their school only calls them when their child has done something wrong, while 60% would do more to support their child if they had more time or guidance on practical ways to help their learning.

At Achievement for All 3As we see parent and carer engagement as one of the core ways of helping schools and parents work closely together to actively support the child. Structured conversation is a major element of this. The structured conversations approach requires schools to give teachers time away from the classroom for a series of focused, managed conversations between teacher, parent and child. The aim is to raise the child’s academic achievement and enhance her chances of success. Teachers learn how to recap a conversation, summarise complex or convoluted points that both sides understand, and set targets that parent, teacher and child sign up to. These are then reviewed at a later meeting. In many cases the cost of cover and of providing crèche facilities can be covered by pupil premium funding. Through structured conversations many schools have been able to develop effective partnerships with parents, get them more involved in their children’s learning, develop effective learning targets and develop more individualised approaches to learning. The results of this approach have been startling. For example, at Tredworth Junior School in a deprived part of central Gloucester, 87% of pupils on FSMs have achieved level 4 plus in English and maths compared to 68% nationally. Persistent absenteeism dropped from 12.6% to just over eight per cent in a year. Structured conversations were placed at the centre of Tredworth’s work with parents.

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Headteacher, Andy Darby, saw improved parental relationships as crucial to improving pupil attainment. “When I became headteacher in 2002 the view from some staff was that parents were not aspirational for their kids. That was a complete anathema to me. They complained that parents were not coming in when they were putting events on. “For me it was key that we improved parents’ knowledge of what the children were doing at school. We needed to empower parents to ask questions of the school and challenge us as well.” It’s a similar story at Hampstead School, a 1,250 pupil secondary in north London. The school takes the challenge of raising the attainment of children in vulnerable groups, including minority ethnic groups and children classified as having special educational needs, very seriously. Barriers for these pupils include economic background, language, family make-up (some are looked-after children) and, in some cases, parents’ mistrust of schools. The parental engagement strategy at Hampstead was part of an Achievement for All 3As programme which included work to develop leadership, teaching and learning, and the opening up of wider opportunities for the target pupils. “We’ve had good feedback,” says Heather Daulphin. “They say they now feel that their child’s needs are being addressed. These children are now much more involved in school life and they know more about what is expected of them in their learning. You can’t get results for these children if you don’t have parents on board.” We have a wealth of evidence that structured conversations is an approach that works nationally. According to surveys carried out by Achievement for All 3As, parent and carer engagement with teachers and in children’s learning improved by 17%. In many schools the approach has been so successful that they have rolled out the approach for all parents, not just parents of disadvantaged and vulnerable children. Professor Charles Desforges, a parental engagement expert, summed up the purpose of structured conversations neatly when he said at a recent Achievement for All 3As annual conference that parental engagement was “not about getting on with parents. If that’s all it’s about then it won’t benefit the pupils. The structured conversations approach has engineered the parent as a partner focusing on pupil achievement.”

Whatever you face as a manager or leader, AMiE can help you. With support from AMiE, you can focus on what’s really important in your role. We are the only union to represent managers and leaders across the entire education sector, providing:

1 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

1 excellent personal and professional development: accredited training and development opportunities for you in your role as manager or leader

1 a voice in the education debate: an opportunity to influence policy and get involved in issues that affect you

1 publications and resources: a range of free publications focused on contemporary leadership issues

1 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 or call 0845 057 7000 (local call). Let AMiE take you further. *Terms and conditions apply, visit for full subscription details, membership eligibility and further information.

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.


Equalities issues

Recognising the best employ The demographic facts Chris Ball, chief executive, TAEN – The Age and Employment Network

It is well known that society (and therefore the workforce) is ageing. Over the past decade we have heard a lot from the OECD about their “live longer, work longer” formula in response to this global trend.


Governments of all economically developed nations know they cannot afford the changing dependency ratios as fewer “prime age” productive workers support the growing numbers of “economically inactive” who are retiring and living longer than ever. Whether or not we like this demographic scenario, managers in both the public and private sectors need to understand its implications for their organisations. Society


Work ability

Relatives, friends

Work Environment Content and demands The work ability model (J. Ilmarinen, K. Tuomi & J. Seitsamo. 2005. Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland).

Community and organisation Management and leadership

Values Attitude — motivation

Competence Knowledge — skills

Health Functional capacities

In 1965, the total fertility rate in EU countries was 2.7 children born per woman. By 1995 it had dropped to 1.5. Demographers predict that the numbers of 0 to four-year-old children will decline in almost all of the EU countries while the numbers of 60 or 65 plus people will increase. While the rate at which these changes occur will vary between countries (and the UK seems more fortunate than most in many respects) a common factor is that changes in dependency ratios, combined with absolute or relative declines in the numbers of prime-age people, will put economies and organisations under duress. This is therefore about the economy – so the question is what to do about it? Simply working till we drop makes no sense. Simply pushing up state pension age and compelling people to work longer won’t work and in any event is a heartless approach. Researchers say that “work is good for your health,” but this only applies if the work done is “good work.” Fundamentally, changing working conditions so that people can live and work better seems essential. So how would we achieve this?

Policy implications In many countries in Europe the paradigm of “age management” is well understood and is commonly encountered in European HR forums. Creative innovations are sought to prevent the negative by-products of ageing as people leave their jobs to retire early – often well before they are ready to do so. Many initiatives have attracted the interest of academics, policymakers and business institutions. For example, in Finland in the 1990s a series of collaborative government programmes addressed the causes of early quitting and economic inactivity of the workforce. The concept of measuring and maintaining work ability, as it is called (roughly equivalent to work capacity), has taken hold (see the diagram opposite). Work ability was constructed and defined in 1981 in a study of aging employees. The conceptual definition was, “How good is the worker at present, in the near future, and how able is he or she to do his or her work with respect to the work demands, health and mental resources?” To measure the work ability, a method called Work Ability Index (WAI) was developed and its validity was tested by clinical examinations and by followup enquiries over four and 11 years. Since the 1990s, the WAI has been used widely both in research and in occupational health services.

oyers for ageing workforces The project will be working with employers to examine the impact of targeted changes in their organisation over a sustained period.

AARP awards ceremony, Chicago 2011.

In Finland, a series of government-led programmes identify causes of falling work ability and slow or reverse such trends through holistic interventions. These typically embody learning, job design, ergonomic adjustments, health and well-being measures, flexible working programmes and many more. Age management is becoming a core management competence in many European countries. There have also been programmes and projects in other countries aimed at tackling the same policy challenges though Finland remains the foremost conceptual exemplar of interest. The EU’s 2010 and 2020 strategies on growth and jobs have sought to encourage positive policies on active ageing. These include new regulatory arrangements to support inclusion of the full workforce in the labour market, with the importance of lifelong learning and the revision of social security arrangements being foremost. Remaining economically active in later life can be achieved, it is believed, by following the best examples of age management. The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions ( has over the years collected case studies and commented on the issues extensively.

Project and research initiatives The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) has engaged with several leading European projects to disseminate information on practices supporting productive working longer. One new project, Workage (details of which can be found at, will see us working with Nottingham Trent University and the UK Work Organisation Network.

There is much to be gained by dialogue with the best employers internationally. Understanding what they do and learning from their experience is important. For some years, TAEN has been working with a group of not-for-profit agencies in supporting the American Association of Retired Persons’ (AARP) Best Employers’ Award. This excellent and prestigious global award recognises employers whose innovative workforce practices address the challenge of workforce ageing. Employers who want to benchmark their practices against the best in the world can enter. One past winner was the education department from the Danish city of Randers. The city’s “Good Working Life” project aimed a series of measures at older teachers, including de-stressing jobs and helping them to improve competencies in certain areas. Reducing teaching time and increasing the advisory nature of the job for the older teacher was part of this. Whether or not an organisation wins an award, it can gain by evaluating carefully how far its existing approaches and conditions of employment represent a coherent offer to engage the ageing workforce. For more information about the AARP Best Employers’ Award visit TAEN is a network organisation. Members include employers, unions and labour market agencies. Contact us to discuss how TAEN could provide support to your organisation. AMiE is a member of TAEN.

New guidance on suspension from work Suspension from work is never a neutral act, despite what employers may have you believe. In our new employment relations leaflet, Suspended from Work, we look at the impact, practice and legal implications of being suspended pending a disciplinary investigation. A copy, together with all the other leaflets in our employment relations series, can be downloaded from the resource bank on AMiE’s website at


Union matters

Shape education: share your vision for education with your MP 12

Right now the political parties are drafting their manifestos, hoping to win your vote in the 2015 elections. ATL and AMIE members have been creating a vision for education by completing surveys where you’ve highlighted the issues which matter most to you. The surveys remain open so there is still time to tell us what is important – surveys covering the maintained, post-16 and independent sectors can be found at Using your feedback, we’ve created six key themes which we’ll use to lobby the main political parties as they draft their manifestos:

1 A broad, inspirational curriculum which

prepares young people for life because your feedback said: “Give headteachers and teachers flexibility to deliver a curriculum that is relevant to their children and involves encouraging them to think creatively and become well-rounded individuals ready to make their own contribution to society.”

1 A supportive assessment system with a range of methods to improve students’ progress and collaboration rather than competition so schools and colleges focus on educating pupils not meeting demands of league tables because you told us: “I am sick of hearing ‘targets’, ‘exam grades’, etc it crowds the space that should be reserved for educating.”

1 A positive inspection system where

staff and students grow with a locally accountable partner because you’re concerned about: “The destructive nature of Ofsted. I am 100% behind accountability for public money but Ofsted is the single most destructive force in education.”

1 A motivated, valued workforce

supported with ongoing CPD and with fair reward, because you raised: “Performance related pay - it will affect recruitment and adversely affect learning.”

1 A transparent, equal access-for-

all education system which is not run for profit because you told us you want to: “Create a learning culture that values all educational routes, both vocational and academic.”

These key themes feature on the back of postcards which you’ve been returning to ATL/AMiE, asking MPs to engage with you on education issues as they draft their party’s manifestos. Already, members have met with Tristram Hunt MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Education, to hand over their postcards and discuss their vision for education. There’s still time to order more postcards by emailing, quoting ATL/MF141. We’ll send on your postcards to your MP, but you can also arrange meetings with your MP to discuss the issues you’d like to see in their party’s manifesto. There are many ways you can lobby your MP:

1 invite your MP to your workplace to talk to you and colleagues

1 invite your MP to a branch meeting to talk to members

1 make an appointment to meet your MP at the House of Commons or at his/her constituency office

1 write to your MP 1 engage with your MP over social media; many MPs have Twitter accounts and Facebook pages

1 engage with your MP through your local media. A full briefing on how to lobby your MP can be found at shapingeducation and you can email us at for support. We’d very much like to hear about how you’ve engaged with your MP. You can tweet using #ShapeEducation and you can email us at and we’ll add your feedback to our website.

Employment matters

Can I be sacked because of my sickness absence record?

Your quest io answered ns

I have been unwell for some time with a long-term medical condition. I was off sick for a total of seven weeks last year between April and mid-October, returning to work for the remainder of the winter term. However, at the start of the current term I fell sick again and, although I feel as if I am improving, I have been off work ever since. My employer has always been sympathetic but recently I received a letter warning me that I may be dismissed if there was no prospect of my health improving. I have been asked to make a further appointment with occupational health (OH).

I am very sorry to hear about your medical problems and the difficulties you are experiencing with your employer. Dismissal for long-term or frequent sickness absence can potentially be a fair reason for terminating a contract. However, for a dismissal to be fair the employer will be required to take a number of steps which would usually include:

1 investigating the reasons for the sickness absence (which will usually include a reference to their OH service; they, in turn, with your consent, should liaise with your GP and/or consultant)

1 consulting with you, for example, at home visits or other sickness absence meetings

1 considering alternative employment if you are not well enough to return to your substantive post

1 warning you that continued or further absences may result in dismissal.

AMiE council elections 2014 From April 2014, AMiE will begin the process of seeking nominations from members for a range of categories to join AMiE’s council. AMiE’s council is the essential forum that ensures members’ views and concerns are communicated to professional staff. Through the process of discussion and debate at council, members’ views inform strategy, policy decisions and directions, and responses to government plans and consultations. It is also an excellent means of sharing the insights, good practice and challenges experienced by colleagues in other schools and colleges. The opportunity to share ideas with fellow professionals and to debate strategic thinking and solutions at AMiE council meetings is highly valued by members. The election timetable is outlined below and nomination forms will be circulated with the next edition of ELM. If you would like to find out more about AMiE’s council, please contact Julia Pearson, administration manager, on 01858 411542 or by email at

AMiE 2014 election timetable Early April

Letter and nomination forms to be circulated to members with April edition of ELM.

1/5/2014 (5pm)

Nominations to be sent to the returning officer by this time and date.


Nominations checked.


Ballot papers compiled and printed for those membership categories where a ballot is required.


Ballot papers, including election addresses, distributed to appropriate members.

13/6/2014 (5pm)

Ballot closes. Voting papers to be sent to the returning officer by this time and date.


Voting papers counted.


Results declared.


New members of AMiE council take up office.

A reasonable employer should also take into account the following:

1 the length of absences and periods of ill-health 1 in long-term sickness absence, the nature and likely duration of the illness

1 the need for the employee to do the job, and the difficulty of covering their absence

1 the consistent application of the employer’s sickness absence policy. If your condition amounts to a disability, then your employer should also make reasonable adjustments to help you remain in or return to work. In your particular case, a further visit to OH is advisable. You should ask to see any medical report from OH before it is sent to your employer, and discuss this with your GP or consultant if you have any concerns. Also, at any meeting where the employer can potentially issue a warning that you may be dismissed, you are entitled to representation by AMiE, so make sure you take up this right. Indeed, just because you are ill does not mean that an employer can ignore normal procedures. If they do move towards dismissal you have a right to defend yourself and to be represented by AMiE. Any member in your situation is therefore advised to contact AMiE for support through this difficult time.


The last word

It’s all about quality teaching Mary Bousted, general secretary, ATL


The annual advent of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s annual report for schools and colleges was, I am sure, eagerly awaited by all school and college leaders. I know that you will all have studied every word and inwardly digested each and every recommendation. But in the unlikely case that you have been distracted by other pressures, I offer a ‘reader’s digest’ of Michael Wilshaw’s findings and recommendations for the FE and school sectors.

Further education There is good news for the FE sector. In many of the providers inspected, Ofsted found improvements in the quality of teaching as well as higher expectations for learners. Inspectors found that FE leaders were giving greater priority to improving the quality of teaching and learning. As a result, 13 providers were judged ‘outstanding’ for teaching and learning, including two general FE colleges, the first time any general FE college has achieved this judgement in over three years. Leaders and managers of outstanding FE providers successfully created a culture of respect and ambition. They led staff who understood and contributed to a culture in which learners were the top priority and for which staff were determined that each learner should achieve their potential. Outstanding FE provision was based on good distributed leadership across a college, with good overview by governors who understood what constituted effective teaching and learning. Outstanding colleges had effective support structures to improve teaching, with a strong focus on monitoring and improving the quality of teaching; a system of action plans and learning coaches to support lecturers to move up from good, and a strong performance management system with opportunities for staff to access appropriate CPD.

Outstanding colleges showed a strong internal moderation of performance management with standards applied consistently across different areas of provision. (A virtuous circle which is eminently sensible, appears to be obvious, but is, as AMiE members know, extremely difficult to achieve.) Conversely, managers in weaker colleges failed to use data on learners’ performance to identify areas of provision with weaker teaching, and failed to listen to their learners or to ask sufficiently challenging questions in the learner satisfaction surveys, which would identify areas of under-performance. Ofsted found there is still too much FE provision that is not responsive to local employment needs. Training providers need to ensure that vocational provision is better matched to the needs of local businesses and communities. (Although how you would be able to force a student who is desperate to do a course in the performing arts to study engineering, and how such a process might sit with civil liberties and the right to self-determination is not addressed in the Chief Inspector’s report.) Apprenticeships also came under the inspector’s critical gaze. They found that too many young people apply for an apprenticeship but fail to be sufficiently employable because they lack basic skills including literacy and numeracy. The teaching of English and maths is heavily criticised in the report which notes that many FE and skills providers are working with learners who failed to achieve level 2 in these subjects when at school.

g – says Her Majesty’s Inspector Pupils’ responses demonstrate sufficient gains in knowledge, skills and understanding, including in literacy and maths; teachers monitor pupils’ progress in lessons and use the information to adapt their teaching. Teachers use questioning and discussion to assess the effectiveness of their teaching, and assessment is frequent and accurate and used to set relevant work. Finally, and importantly, pupils understand how to improve their work and are well prepared for the next stage in their learning.

Good teaching for these students in these two core subjects would motivate them, and help them to understand the concepts and apply their skills. The teaching of English and maths will undoubtedly be a key focus for Ofsted FE inspections in the forthcoming year.

Schools Reading the largely hysterical reactions to the annual schools’ report, school leaders would be forgiven for thinking they were going to hell in a handcart. Newspapers don’t like good news – so the report’s key finding – that children in England now have the best chance they have ever had of attending a good school, did not get much of a mention. Good and outstanding schools make up 78% of all schools inspected in England. As well as being an increase from 2011-12, this is the highest proportion of good or better schools in England since Ofsted began. This improvement reflects better teaching and more effective senior and middle leadership (which Ofsted notes are central to achieving better outcomes for pupils). The quality of teaching in the core subjects of English and maths and the extent of low-level misbehaviour are, Ofsted notes, good indicators of whole school inspection judgements. These basics have to be right in order for a school to improve. The quality of teaching is at the centre of school improvement. Good teaching, in Ofsted’s eyes, has the following features: it engages and includes all pupils with challenging work which meets their individual needs, including the most able.

In a number of high-performing schools inspected this year Ofsted focused on the qualities of effective school leaders. High performing leaders of teaching were visible in classrooms and were a source of advice and inspiration for others. These leaders were careful to improve the culture in their schools by creating a climate that fostered open and constructive challenge. These leaders also sought views on their own performance, modelling the behaviour they wanted to see. Successful schools also took CPD seriously, ensuring that existing staff had access to relevant and high quality training and development. Effective school leaders were able to devote their energies to leading teaching and learning because they had support systems in place to ensure that day-to-day school administration was managed effectively. The importance of the whole school team was evident in these schools.

Common threads – FE and schools The common thread through the annual reports on FE and schools is the quality of teaching. This has to be the focus for leaders and managers in schools and colleges. English and maths, the core subjects, are vital to overall school and college effectiveness. And one last thing (not in the Ofsted report), the variation in standards within schools and colleges (ie between different phases and subjects) is much greater than the variation in standards between different schools and colleges. Effective leaders and managers have good systems to assess the varying quality of provision across their institution and effective measures to deal with pockets of poor provision in particular areas or subjects which fail to meet learner needs. They lead by example, attempt to motivate and enthuse but are prepared to act when needed. As AMiE members know, it’s a tough job being a leader or manager. I wish you every success in your professional lives in 2014.


Contacting AMiE AMiE office

Members are warmly invited to contribute to this newsletter. We welcome pieces for inclusion in ELM – especially articles about good or innovative teaching and learning or on key policy issues, plus letters or photographs of student activities.

AMiE 35 The Point Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7QU Tel 01858 461 110 Fax 01858 461 366

Please email all contributions to Sheila Greaves at The copy deadline for the next issue is 25 February 2014. 16

Follow AMiE on Twitter: @atl_amie And for employment issues tweet us at @DavidG_atl_amie

National helpline Tel 01858 464 171 Clare Atkinson Office administrator Tel 01858 411 541 David Green Director of employment services Tel 01858 411 540 Mobile 07711 929 043

Ellie Manns Development officer Tel 01858 411 545 Julia Pearson Administration manager Tel 01858 411 542 Sara Shaw Head of AMiE Tel 01858 411 546 Mobile 07545 438 061 Mark Wright National official: leadership and management Tel 020 7782 1530 Mobile 07436 805 330

Peter Pendle Chief executive Tel 020 7782 1507

For membership queries, please contact the membership department on 020 7782 1602 or email

Eastern Liz Salisbury Tel 01572 720 467 Mobile 07595 099 617

Central Louise Scarff Tel 01604 810 980 Mobile 07918 741 030

WALES Hilary Mason Tel 01591 620 700 Mobile 07435 970 063

South East Steve Cooper Tel 01983 856 362 Mobile 07436 549 565

EAST ANGLIA Darren Smith Tel 01502 217 584 Mobile 07570 670 411

NORTHERN IRELAND Mark Langhammer Tel 02890 782 020 Mobile 07918 195 070

London Kalbinder Herr Tel 01865 765 454 Mobile 07711 929 038

Northern Pauline Rodmell Tel 01204 660 440 Mobile 07711 929 037

Scotland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man Contact the national helpline: Tel 01858 464 171

AMiE regional officers

South West Rachel Jennings Tel 01752 839 643 Mobile 07738 641 689

Designed by thingswedo ( by Keith Sparrow. Printed by Blackmore Ltd, Shaftesbury. Š AMiE 2014. All rights reserved.

Contacting ELM

ELM February 2014  

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