Page 1



Consider the evidence Andrew Pollard on deciding educational policy

Biting back ATL members respond to Sir Michael Wilshaw

Mentoring Report looks at both sides of this crucial relationship

ADVICE How to do effective assessment for learning

JOIN THE DEBATE Why the school play really is worth all that hard work

30 Contents Welcome


D 21

Your ATL 04

News Including compensation for members and ATL at the TUC march


Noticeboard Advice, information, events and opportunities to get involved

Help and advice

Features 10

A vital relationship Report looks at the mentoring relationship from both sides


Consider the evidence Report meets Andrew Pollard to discuss the curriculum and using evidence to make policies

Join the debate


School closures ATL’s legal team on your employee rights if your school closes


Agenda General secretary Mary Bousted on some leading questions in the assessment consultation


Contact All the details you need to get in touch with ATL



Assessment for learning How to do AfL that focuses on the learning

ATL in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland Philip Dixon, Mark Langhammer and Keith Robson give views from around the UK


Letters ATL members have their say on academic subjects in FE, good manners and a revelation from Michael Gove


Biting back ATL members respond to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s ‘out the door at three’ comments


Final word Writer and performer Yasmeen Khan on the pleasure of the school play

Resources 26

28 29

Hank Roberts, national president, ATL

ATL resources Useful newsletters, publications and factsheets Classified advertisements Crossword Your chance to win £50 in Marks & Spencer vouchers

Report is the magazine from the Association of Teachers & Lecturers, 7 Northumberland Street, London WC2N 5RD Telephone: 020 7930 6441 Fax: 020 7930 1359 Email or Website Managing editor Victoria Poskitt Editors Alex Tomlin, Charlotte Tamvakis Head of advertising sales Samantha Overton 01603 772520 Advertising sales Lisa Parkinson 01603 772521

espite the fogs and mists of autumn and the continued assault on the teaching profession by this government, we need to strengthen our campaign to save state education and improve the educational opportunities of our children. The government’s plan to privatise education is a long-term strategy. Back in 2001, I wrote: “The Willesden High (academy) proposal is clearly part of a national, indeed international, policy of opening up public education to big business. Big business may espouse altruistic motive(s) … but their ultimate purpose is to profit.” For a brilliant background I recommend Melissa Benn’s book, School Wars: the Battle for Britain’s Education (feel free to send me your education reading recommendations too). With the establishment of the first for-profit school, the Breckland Free School in Suffolk, the alarm bells are well and truly sounding. A recent Newsnight debate between Mary Bousted and the Prime Minister’s ex-policy adviser James O’Shaughnessy should set those bells to screeching sirens. He recommends a new failure regime — based on Ofsted’s new ‘three strikes and you’re out’ — to “turn around the weakest schools”. The governing body would hand over the running of a ‘failing’ school to “a proven educational management organisation (EMO), which would operate the school on a payment by results basis”. Ofsted is clearly to be the political tool to force schools to become academies run for profit (as well as denigrate our profession: see page 21 for ATL members’ responses to Sir Michael Wilshaw’s latest outburst). As Mary Bousted said: “We fear that the real agenda is to hand over England’s schools to private profit-making companies. The international evidence clearly shows that schools run for profit are not run for pupils and their performance is not good.” This is why every attempt to turn a school into an academy must be resisted as strongly as possible. One outfit may be slightly better than another but having a strategy of simply seeking mitigation in the long term will not do. We need to increase the level of resistance. If we do, ultimately I believe we will win.

Report is produced and designed for ATL by Archant Dialogue Ltd, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 1RE. Email: Production editor Matt Colley, Managing art editor Nicky Wright, Art director Nick Paul, Managing ad production controller Kay Brown, Publishing director Zoë Francis-Cox, Managing director Mick Hurrell Printed in the UK on FSC-accredited stock. Subscription: Non-members, including libraries, may subscribe at the rate of £16 per year. ATL accepts no liability for any insert, display or classified advertisement included in this publication. While every reasonable care is taken to ensure that all advertisers are reliable and reputable, ATL can give no assurance that they will fulfil their obligation under all circumstances. The views expressed in the articles in Report are the contributors’ own and do not necessarily reflect ATL policy. Official policy statements issued on behalf of the Association 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.

your ATL / news

Compensation for sacked teacher An art teacher who was sacked from an independent school when she became pregnant has received more than £30,000 in compensation with the support of ATL. Rebecca Raven, who taught at Howell’s School in Denbigh, North Wales, won an unfair dismissal case at Shrewsbury employment tribunal in May. “It is such a relief to have won and to be able to put this case behind me. It was a terrible shock losing a job I loved. I had really enjoyed working at Howell’s School,” she said. “I hope the school’s trustees have come to their senses and won’t treat

anyone else the way they treated me.” Mrs Raven lost her £23,295-a-year job days after telling the school she was pregnant. She applied for maternity leave in May 2011, which should have started at the end of November the same year, but she was subsequently told she would be dismissed at the end of the summer term. The school then said she could apply for the post of part-time art teacher, starting in September 2011, but it did not appoint her. Mrs Raven appealed and put in a grievance, but the school failed to respond. The school was ordered to pay £33,923 for the unfair dismissal and was also found

Members march ATL members were among more than 100,000 people who marched in London, Glasgow and Belfast to protest against the coalition government’s austerity measures. They took part in the TUC-organised ‘A future that works’ march in London on 20 October to send the message to the government that young people across the UK face the brunt of austerity measures. ATL member Bridget Lockyer, a ATL members march for teacher in Wakefield who joined the ‘A future that works’ march in London, said: “I had never taken industrial action in 30 years of teaching until last year. I am very concerned about the future of education. My field is children with special needs. Specialist teachers have all just lost an SEN point with a reduction in pay across the board. This has been hard-won with many hours of study and does nothing to encourage people to work hard for these extra qualifications. “Academies are not required to provide central services for children with special needs beyond 2013, which does not bode well for the provision of specialist services and for the inclusion of children with special needs in academies.” She added: “As peripatetic teachers

to have discriminated against Mrs Raven under the Equality Act 2012. She had worked for the school since 2008. Jayne Philips, ATL’s senior lawyer, said: “We finally have justice for Mrs Raven after fighting her corner for over a year. The compensation should go some way towards covering her costs for a year out of work. Schools cannot be allowed to get away with breaking the law. ATL can, and will, fight for justice whenever such cases occur.” Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: “We are delighted to have won this compensation for Mrs Raven after all the months of worry and uncertainty the school put her through. Howell’s School treated her appallingly and showed a complete disregard for the law. “Sacking a pregnant teacher also set a dismal example to the pupils who are, hopefully, being educated to be young, independent women with fulfilling careers and lives.”

we require a car and there has been no increase in fuel allowance for the past eight years, despite the huge increase in petrol costs. We also have to now pay extra for our pension and wait longer to receive it. The result is teachers feeling unvalued, demoralised and demotivated.” ATL member Clare Kellett, also a teacher, said: “Last time I marched for my own and my colleagues’ futures. This time I’m marching to protect young people’s lives — poverty leads to known health risks, poor attainment and lower life chances.”



November/December 2012


Payout for long hours ATL has secured payouts for two members at a Hertfordshire school who were forced to work 24 hours a day for at least five days without sufficient breaks. The members received £10,000 and £3,000 ahead of an employment tribunal that would have heard how the owners of Edge Grove, in Aldenham, Hertfordshire, made the teachers, who also worked as boarding house parents, work long stretches without breaks or rest periods. A typical day started with wake-up and breakfast for pupils at 7am, tutorials and lessons until 5.10pm, supper and dormitory supervision from 6pm to 9.30pm, followed by on-call duties overnight for six nights a week. According to the Working Time Regulations, boarding school staff are entitled to the equivalent of 11 consecutive hours’ rest between work days and a 24-hour

break if they work for seven days or a 48hour break when they work for 14 days. Despite the teachers repeatedly raising the problem, the owners of the co-educational independent boarding school for three- to 13-year-olds failed to make any significant changes. One teacher has left the profession as a result of his experience; the other has another teaching role. Former Edge Grove teacher Matthieu Lefebvre said: “The school just wasn’t interested when we said we couldn’t continue to work without breaks, because we were so shattered due to sleep deprivation that we couldn’t function properly. “It was totally unreasonable. I felt exploited. I had to give up teaching, which I loved, after 10 years, to regain some sanity in my life. No one should be

Going global

Caroline Kolek works with teachers in India

Caroline Kolek, ATL’s honorary secretary, has been the first UK teacher to join colleagues from the Republic of Ireland in a charity programme to develop the skills and expertise of teachers in India. After raising money for her flights and accommodation, Caroline spent four weeks in a Catholic missionary school in South Tripura, in north-east India, working with teachers studying for a three-year diploma in teacher education November/December 2012

expected to regularly work 120 hours a week without a break, it’s just not feasible.” John Richardson, ATL’s national official for independent schools, said: “This is a truly appalling case of exploitation, which endangered the health of our members who were permanently exhausted. “We are concerned there is a culture of working excessively long hours without proper breaks in independent schools, especially boarding schools, and we are concerned for the welfare of our members. We call on all independent school employers to ensure that their staff have sufficient breaks and time off.” Kehinde Adeogun, ATL solicitor, said: “We are delighted to have achieved the payout for our members, and warn other schools that we will challenge them if we find they have been treating staff in a similar way.”

accredited by University College Dublin. Speaking of her time there, Caroline said: “Sharing my experiences makes for excellent CPD as it takes you right back to basics, makes you question the effectiveness of your practice and reflect on ways to take it forward. “These teachers work without modern technology, which reminds you how creative you need to be to engage young people. They were a joy to work with; they were keen to learn and certainly dedicated to their students.” Caroline’s placement was organised by Global Schoolroom, a charity based in Ireland. Programme leaders hope more UK teachers will sign up for the selection and training process and be ready to take part in summer 2013. In order to build stronger links with the UK, ATL general secretary Mary Bousted has taken a seat on Global Schoolroom’s advisory board along with education experts from University College Dublin; Assam Don Bosco University, Guwahati, India; École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland; and Harvard University in the USA. For more details on taking part in the Global Schoolroom programme please contact Caroline at or Global Schoolroom via The deadline for applications for summer 2013 is Friday 14 December 2012.

Swansea College clarification In September’s Report, in the news on page 5 (‘Principal recognised in Queen’s birthday honours’), we wrote: “[Maxine Room’s] work ensured that [Swansea] college reflected the community in which it served and included black students on its roll, something it hadn’t done when she first arrived there.” We would like to clarify that while there were black students on the roll when she first arrived, the college did not at that time reflect the make-up of the local community.

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your ATL / news


ATL leads the debate There was standing room only as ATL’s 2012 party conference activities closed with a fringe at the Conservative party conference in October on teacher autonomy, which created passionate debate over a range of education topics. Jointly hosted by ATL and New Statesman magazine, the panel at the fringe event, called ‘Teacher knows best: Who should we trust to educate our children?’, featured ATL general secretary Mary Bousted, former Conservative schools minister Nick Gibb, former HM chief inspector for Ofsted Christine Gilbert and award-winning education journalist Dorothy Lepkowska. Nick Gibb opened proceedings by proclaiming his belief in the importance of teacher autonomy and in rewarding teachers financially, and warning against what he described as ‘the tyranny of the expert’: ideological approaches from within the education world, imposed on the profession without any academic evidence. “You have to remove the edifice of prescription that has been imposed on the profession over the last several decades,” he said. Christine Gilbert spoke about the moral accountability of teachers to pupils in their own schools and beyond, and also their accountability to colleagues and the profession as a whole. This would be the way, she said, to raise standards at both the top and bottom of the pupil attainment level. Dorothy Lepkowska reflected on two things that have struck

L-R: Dorothy Lepkowska, Mary Bousted, Sophie Elmhirst, features editor of the New Statesman, and Nick Gibb MP

her in her career covering education: firstly, the high standard of experience, skills and professionalism among teachers, and secondly, the amount of government interference that impedes teachers’ work. She highlighted the need for political consensus on how we want our children to be educated, rather than education being a political football. Mary Bousted opened by comparing education as the secret garden, as described by James Callaghan in the ’70s, to today, where it is “rowed, ploughed and pulled up constantly. The teaching profession does not feel it is allowed any professional autonomy”. She cited Andreas Schleicher, Michael Gove’s “favourite education guru”, who has said teachers need to be high-level knowledge workers who constantly advance their own knowledge and that of their profession, but that this type of person is not attracted to schools organised like an assembly line with teachers working as interchangeable widgets in a bureaucratic command-and-control environment. She said teachers should have the responsibility to make informed decisions about teaching strategies and subject content; they need the confidence to focus on pupils; they need access to ongoing research and continuous professional development; they need the confidence to be stakeholders in the education debate; and they need to be part of proper consultation on changes. Concluding, she quoted Conservative MP Graham Stuart, chair of the Education Select Committee, who said ministers are not listening to teachers, and she told Mr Gibb that he does not know as much as he thinks he does. Dr Bousted also spoke at fringe events at the Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences in September. The fringes, called ‘The proposed primary curriculum — progressive or prescriptive?’, were jointly organised by ATL, the NUT and NAHT and examined the draft programmes of study published by the government, and the implications for primary schools of the implementation and delivery of the new curriculum. She criticised the draft curriculum for being overly prescriptive. “If it says anything, it’s that teachers cannot be trusted,” Dr Bousted told the Liberal Democrat fringe, stressing that ‘teacher knows best’.

Asbestos e-guidance as school closed New guidance on the problems and risks of asbestos in schools, and the measures that headteachers, governors, managers and staff can take to manage the risks, has been published by the government. But the Joint Union Asbestos Committee November/December 2012

is continuing to call on the Westminster government to audit asbestos in all UK schools after it was announced asbestos levels in all Welsh schools were to be investigated following the sudden closure of a high school in

Caerphilly last month when the material was found on site. The Department for Education guidance, which is also useful for parents, can be viewed at b00215518/asbestosmanagementschools.


your ATL / noticeboard, get involved

Noticeboard General secretary election Under trade union legislation an election for general secretary has to be held every five years. The present term of office at ATL concludes on 31 July 2013 and the Executive Committee has agreed a timetable for the election process. Candidates for election to the office of general secretary must be nominated by the Executive Committee or by six branches, each of which shall be situated in a different electoral constituency, or by 100 individual standard members from at least six different Executive Committee districts of ATL. A branch may nominate no more than one candidate. A nominee of a branch must be a standard member or a paid staff member of ATL. The chosen candidate of the Executive Committee is Mary Bousted and this decision was overwhelmingly

Officer elections ATL has eight national officers elected by members: president, senior vice-president, junior vice-president, immediate past president, two honorary treasurers and two honorary secretaries. In addition there is the AMiE president. ATL’s national officers, along with the general secretary and their representatives, take part in talks with government representatives and employers on employment and education issues affecting all ATL members. Under the current terms of office, the junior vice-president follows a path through the ranks over a four-year period. In their second year they become senior vice-president, in their third, president, and finally they become immediate past president. There are two honorary treasurers and two honorary secretaries, one being elected each year to serve for two years. ATL is now beginning the election process for junior vice-president, one honorary

endorsed by the Executive Committee at a recent meeting. Potential candidates seeking nomination will have the opportunity to send a single email communication to all branch secretaries and members of the Executive Committee, subject to the rules laid down in the agreed canvassing protocol. The text of the email must be submitted to Pat Ware at the address below by 12 noon on Friday 14 December 2012. Nominators are required to clearly indicate who they are nominating and provide their own name and ATL membership number. They must also indicate their nomination acceptance by signing a statement to this effect. The Executive Committee has appointed the ATL president to act as returning officer and all nominations must be received by the president, via Pat Ware at the address below, by 12 noon on Friday 1 February 2013.

Within 14 days of the close of nominations, candidates can submit an electoral address (no more than 400 words), a further statement explaining the candidate’s suitability for the post (not exceeding 400 words), biographical details and one recent photograph. Canvassing is permitted only in accordance with the protocol approved by the Executive Committee and a copy of this, together with ATL’s by-laws, may be obtained from Pat Ware on 020 7782 1570 or at This is a statutory election and is being run according to ATL’s by-laws. The Executive Committee has appointed an independent scrutineer: Popularis Limited, 6 De Montfort Mews, Leicester LE1 7EU, telephone 01162 542259 or email

secretary and one honorary treasurer. However, the Executive Committee will be putting a proposal to the 2013 Annual Conference to change the composition of the officer group from September 2014, recommending that the honorary secretary and honorary treasurer posts only hold office for one year. Candidates must have been a standard member for at least three years and be nominated by at least 10 members of the Executive Committee, or at least one branch, or 25 standard members from more than one workplace. Nominators are required to clearly indicate who they are nominating, their name and ATL membership number, and candidates must accept their nomination by signing a statement to this effect. The nomination pack is available from Pat Ware on 020 7782 1570 or, and should be returned by 12 noon on Monday 17 December 2012, when nominations close. If the nominations exceed the number of available seats, a ballot will be held and,

within 10 working days of the close of nominations, all candidates may submit an electoral address (no more than 300 words) and a recent photograph. Canvassing is permitted only in accordance with a protocol approved by the Executive Committee. This is a statutory election and is being run according to ATL’s Rules and Constitution. ATL has appointed an independent scrutineer, Popularis Limited, 6 De Montfort Mews, Leicester LE1 7EU, telephone 01162 542259 or email The general secretary will act as returning officer.

Study scholarship The Peter Smith scholarship offers financial assistance to ATL members who wish to return to full-time or part-time study in areas that will help their professional and personal development. The closing date is Friday 19 April 2013. For details and to apply, see, or email Anne Powell at November/December 2012


Speaking out for equalities ATL’s equalities network Equalities and fairness are under attack. Vicious cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) and many local advice groups are accompanying a rise in societal inequality. We see this in our classrooms as well as in society. We know that as society becomes less equal, problems such as underachievement by certain groups

of children, domestic violence and abuse, bullying, behavioural problems and poverty are exacerbated. If you feel strongly about speaking out for equalities, then join ATL’s equalities network, which is a group of members who contribute expertise in various areas, ranging from practical advice to policy input. Contact ATL’s equalities officer, Wanda Wyporska, at for further information.

• disabled workers conference (22-23 May) • the LGBT conference (4-5 July). Contact Anne Powell by email at to be considered for participation in an ATL delegation. Expenses are paid and we are keen for members who haven’t previously attended to come forward.

TUC conferences To find out more about equalities work in the wider union movement, think about representing ATL at the TUC’s statutory conferences in 2013: • the black workers conference (12-14 April)

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November/December 2012


cover feature / mentors

A vital relationship t the beginning of her year of training Sarah Copeland was nervous, but excited and looking forward to fulfilling her dream of becoming a secondary school English teacher. But at the end of her first placement, she had dropped out, depressed, disillusioned and ready to throw her dream away. The overwhelming reason for this dramatic change was her mentor, to whom the ATL member says she “just felt like a burden, an inconvenience. From the moment I met her she made it very clear she didn’t want to be a mentor and she was only doing it because she had been told to. She was very busy and couldn’t have me hanging around all the time. “We had regular meetings booked in, but she routinely cancelled them and on a couple of occasions just didn’t turn up, without letting me know. When she did turn up she just asked me a list of questions, like a tick-list. “She did give me feedback, but it was mostly things I was doing wrong, with very little on how to change it. I went away from meetings feeling totally useless and that I wasn’t doing anything right. I dreaded going into the classroom. “I tried to explain that I needed more support, but her attitude was that teaching is hard and if I couldn’t take it then I should get out now. Gradually I came to the conclusion she was right.” Sarah’s friends and family convinced her to try again and after completing her student year at the second attempt, with more sympathetic mentors, Sarah has now started her NQT year in a more supportive school.

“I’m so glad I’ve stuck with it, but I know filled in, which he was very diligent about, of so many people who had problems with but he’d always talk it through as well and their mentors and some of them did leave relate it to the lesson plan, pointing out the course. where we could have asked something “It’s so hard because who do you different, or an opportunity to do assessment complain to? At the end of the day, this for learning. It was an even balance of person decides whether you’re suitable positives and things to improve, presented to be a teacher, so you need to keep them as ‘to be even better, try doing this’. I felt onside. The university was desperate for confident I was doing the right sort of things mentors as it was, so they couldn’t do and I knew what I needed to do to improve. anything. I was basically stuck with “He took being a mentor seriously; he someone who didn’t care.” did the training that the university offered. ATL has anecdotal evidence that many Being a mentor takes a lot of time and trainee teachers have negative mentoring work and he was willing to put that in.” experiences, often expressing concerns On the other side of the coin, ATL about the insufficient time and support member Lucy Robertson has just become given by their mentors, and there is no a mentor for the first time, and has been doubt that the quality of supporting a student mentoring has a major This person decides English teacher for impact on the initial whether you’re suitable to three weeks. teacher training or “It’s a big be a teacher, so you need responsibility, induction experience ” she to keep them onside of trainees and NQTs. states. “I’m aware it can Where that experience be a hard slog for the is very negative it affects retention levels, as trainee. It’s not a job to take on lightly; it impacts on confidence and the trainee’s you really need to think about what the ability to reach the required standards. student needs and how they are going to Contrast this with the experience of be as good a teacher as they can be by the another ATL member, Tina Mills, whose end of the process. mentor at her first placement adopted “I’m really excited by seeing how a more supportive attitude. someone else approaches the job and my “He was always really welcoming in subject. It’s both guiding her and seeing his demeanour. We had regular meetings it through new eyes. that he kept to. He responded to emails “Becoming a mentor was an obvious and never made it seem inconvenient. progression for me. We tell the kids that If he was busy when you asked him they learn things better by passing them on something then he would arrange to to someone else, teaching someone else how meet you at a later time. to do it. I’m strengthening my own practice. “We had a formal sheet that needed to be “I’ve had a lot of support and advice



November/December 2012



Trainee teachers either love or hate their mentors, and no wonder when the mentor plays such a vital role in their teaching career. Words by Alex Tomlin


from colleagues and the school. It’s important that you as the mentor are not the end point of the learning process. I’m also asking the training supervisor if I’m doing the best things. “I’ve been given time by the school. They recognise it’s a large role. The dedicated meetings are on my timetable. It’s important to fight for that as it shows respect to the trainee, that it’s their time. “One thing a mentor needs to do is to enable the trainee to find his or her own way through, because if you’re not taking possession of the skills in your own way, you’re not learning it properly. It’s about letting them discover the best way for themselves. Equally, the job is so overwhelming, one thing a mentor can do is cut through the irrelevant stuff and focus on the things they do need to deal with. “You do need to get on with each other. Ultimately it’s a professional relationship so personality shouldn’t play too much of a part, but it’s a tough year, so if there’s a personality mismatch with your mentor that makes it harder than it needs to be.” While extremes, these two accounts of trainees demonstrate the inconsistent November/December 2012

approach of mentors at the present time, with the subsequent benefits or challenges that brings for trainee teachers. With the much-vaunted arrival of teaching schools, support from mentors and the school itself will be more important than ever. In light of government proposals, ATL’s student and newly qualified group ATL Future proposed a resolution, overwhelmingly passed, at ATL’s 2011 Annual Conference, citing the “need for mentors, dedicated time for mentors to do their jobs and the need for consistent practice to support newly qualified and student teachers”. ATL’s concern is that the patchiness of provision will only be exacerbated when more mentors are needed in teaching schools. There has been no indication thus far from the government on how new mentors will be found, trained or given enough time to adequately perform the role alongside a growing list of other requirements. Besides issues of quality and quantity, with universities’ roles in initial teacher education being substantially reduced, teaching schools and mentors will need to fill the void.

Learning theories and knowledge of pedagogy are areas where universities are traditionally very strong and it is hard to see how mentors, already busy with their regular teaching responsibilities, will manage to keep up with the constantly changing theories and research and pass them on to their trainees. If indeed this proves impossible then the valuable theory of teaching that underpins trainees’ practice will be severely reduced or lost altogether. While the Department for Education would point to the Teach First model as a successful example of weighting training towards classroom placements, ATL has long said that a major part of Teach First’s success is due to the amount of money spent on each trainee. Teach First trainees make up just a small proportion of all entrants to teaching and it would be impossible to replicate such funding levels across the board. We would like to hear from any ATL members who are in teaching schools about their experiences, including the impact on workload, the number of staff directly involved, training, and support provided or needed to fulfil the roles. Contact us using the details on page 17.


cover feature / mentors

a masterclass; it’s a complex range of training activities, and this makes for a complex relationship. Like all relationships, the mentoring one has to be worked at. It’s unusual because it is often experienced at very different levels of intensity by the respective partners. For trainees, it is absolutely crucial; their daily well-being and future development depend on it. For mentors, however, it’s just one of a portfolio of duties that they have to manage, and almost certainly not their highest priority. This inevitable asymmetry generates strong emotion in trainees, often shown in the extreme language used to describe the relationship, where they may either ‘love’ or ‘hate’ their mentors. Add to this the fact that trainees are also required to seek support and guidance from the very people whose job it is to assess them, and this assessment is not an academic exercise but a powerful judgement about their life, career and personality.


The trainees have to seek support and guidance from the people whose job it is to assess them, and this is … a powerful judgement about their life, career and personality

A Guide to Mentoring ATL recognises the importance of the mentoring relationship and the challenges that both parties can face; we have commissioned a guide to mentoring written by Trevor Wright from the University of Worcester and author of How to be a Brilliant Mentor. Trevor has been a successful teacher for 30 years, and a trainer of teachers for 15 years. The guide offers concise practical advice to both mentor and trainee from the first meeting to the final goodbye. Trevor describes a successful mentor/trainee relationship as “collaborative and mutually active” and a sample of the advice offered on how to start the relationship is outlined below. Mentors are a constant at the centre of the trainees’ teaching world at this fledgling stage. They have a relationship with the trainees that no one else can equal and their influence is the major determiner of the success, nature and quality of new teachers.


It’s easy to underestimate the role. There are mentors who regard the trainee teachers’ placements as a sort of work experience and the mentors’ job as essentially one of modelling and overseeing practice. Trainee teachers don’t undertake school placements to practise. They don’t go to school for work experience or job sampling. Of course they will do all of these things, but there is one single purpose behind them. They are in school to train, and the mentors are the trainers. Trainees’ focus must be overwhelmingly on developing effective learning strategies. Trainees on placement don’t simply undertake a watered-down version of a teacher’s job. They are involved in a programme of experiences designed specifically for training and development. Ask yourself if completing a corridor duty is really a rich training opportunity. Trainees need to watch and understand why mentors do what they do; but this doesn’t mean that they need to copy. Mentoring isn’t

Mentors and trainees must therefore establish ground rules. These must be set early on, not dragged in later in a belated attempt to cure the relationship. The partners should negotiate and agree the numbers. A post-lesson feedback, for example, will have as its main focus three accounts of real success and two development points. Trainees and mentors spend far too much time and energy trying to work each other out. The value of explicitness in the mentoring conversation can hardly be overestimated, and this may present difficulties because, as teachers, we aren’t used to it. We are used to dealing with children; developing and enhancing working relationships through subtext, through the subliminal, through finessing and cajoling. Trainee teachers could be assigned, in addition, an offline coach. This may be a less experienced teacher whose role will be to offer support to the trainee, but without being involved in assessment, even informally. Trainees can seek help with no concerns about damaging themselves. ATL’s Guide to Mentoring will be available in November to order in hard copy (free to members) or to download as a PDF from

November/December 2012


join the debate / agenda

What’s in a name? Michael Gove’s proposals to change the GCSE system fly in the face of what teachers and other experts know about testing, says ATL general secretary Mary Bousted


y last agenda article (‘No marks for compassion’, Report, October 2012) considered this summer’s English GCSE grading fiasco and questioned whether, at a time when the vast majority of students remain in education and training until they are 18, the moment had come to seriously consider the abolition of GCSEs and the development of a fully integrated 14-19 curriculum. The Secretary of State for Education, Michael Gove, has also been considering the future of the GCSE, and the row over the English GCSE grades has provided the perfect cover for him to make his grand announcement — that GCSEs in core subjects are to be replaced by the English baccalaureate certificate (EBC). This was a closely guarded secret until it was leaked to The Mail on Sunday (Michael Gove earned his crust as a journalist before becoming a politician and knows the value of a good scoop). Whether his parliamentary colleagues were so appreciative of learning about yet another major education reform through this esteemed organ is another matter. So, in 2015 the EBC will be upon us. More rigorous exams for core subjects, where there will be no place for coursework, modules, tiered papers or extended projects. Hard on the heels of The Mail on Sunday headlines, the Department for Education (DfE) produced an EBCs consultation paper that would be a joke, only it’s not funny. The first three questions posed in the consultation are: 1. Do you agree the new qualifications should not be called GCSEs? 2. Do you agree that the new qualification should be called English baccalaureate certificates? 3. If not, what title should be adopted? To which I suggest the response should be a further question: ‘What’s in a name?’

And I would answer my own question thus: be impossible for one qualification to it is of no consequence at all what the new differentiate appropriately for the range qualification is called. If Michael Gove was of abilities that the GCSE was designed to honest in his intentions to support teacher assess. If the coalition had asked teachers professionalism he would not waste the and experts in assessment they would have profession’s time, and insult their intelligence, learned something important. by posing such inane and risible questions And there’s another big question the when the issues at stake are so fundamental. coalition government has neither asked nor Nor, in any serious consultation, would answered. How are these proposals going respondents be informed about the to answer employers’ demands for skills government’s intentions before they are development and their need for employees asked to give their opinion — as in the who can communicate, collaborate, following question, posed later in the EBCs innovate, research and design? Any consultation: “We intend that EBCs should education system that aims to develop be assessed 100% by externally marked these essential skills is serious about the exams. Do you agree?” range of assessment methods that are I want to challenge two of the most needed to assess them properly. And these pernicious aspects of these proposals. must extend beyond the timed written The first is that rigour will be restored by exam. So I ask the coalition government timed exams. Experts in assessment do not a question: what is their vision of the agree. They argue that injustice will be rife application of knowledge and how is it to if the grades achieved by the students be developed if assessment is contained taking the qualification wholly within the exam rely entirely upon hall and the timed written timed, written exams. exam paper? The scores that Professor Robert I recently met Andreas students get will just Schleicher, the brains behind Coe, whose work on depend on the luck GCSE grade inflation the PISA education league was cited by the tables and chief education of the draw government as it expert at the OECD. He unveiled its EBCs plans, argued, and I quote his said it would be “near impossible” to words directly, that “the boundary reliably test such a wide range of ability between academic and vocational education in a single exam. He said: “I don’t know is totally irrelevant today”. He should tell who they have talked to … where are the this to Michael Gove. The EBC proposals models for this?” build a wall between academic and Professor Dylan Wiliam, emeritus vocational skills and achievements, and professor of educational assessment at ignore the need for qualifications to be the Institute of Education, argued that the transparent about which skills they aim proposals would not work: “The scores that to develop and how. students get will just depend on the luck of I finish with a plea to ATL members. the draw. This is unavoidable because it is Please take the time to make a response beyond the ability of test writers to write to the consultation and make a enough good questions every year that difference. Responses have to be could actually differentiate by outcome.” received by 10 December 2012. Visit Teachers know this. Tiered GCSE papers to were introduced because it was found to make your views known.



November/December 2012

join the debate / Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Mark Langhammer


There has been little engagement with parents


Assessment arrangements under examination Teachers are concerned about the implementation of the new statutory assessment process for cross-curricular skills at the end of key stages 1-3. The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA), after a ‘shadow year’ phase for 21 schools, is aware that the arrangements are essentially unworkable. CCEA’s minimalist instructions in June 2012 left insufficient time to incorporate the process into practice within schools. Teachers are required to devise five assessment tasks including assessment activities, questions, writing and marking frames, without samples, “piloting time” or appropriate guidance. Teachers will administer at least seven different assessment tasks. Many classes will require a wider range of tasks to cope with the higher- and lowerachieving pupils. The teacher will then mark at least 210 tasks to compile into a portfolio. This encroaches significantly into the time of pupils and teachers. With in-school and external moderation to boot, the changes place an unreasonable workload on teachers. There has been little engagement with parents to explain that pupils may achieve lower targets due to the new system. Teachers are obliged to share the findings with parents before the test is standardised. Pupils are required to use an extensive range of ICT skills to complete tasks, leading some teachers to query whether it assesses ICT more accurately than the communication and mathematics skills as intended. Additionally, the hardware and bandwidth of schools to implement computer-based assessment is patchy. The concern is that standards in education will be negatively impacted as teachers are distracted by a burdensome process. The arrangements are clearly not fit for purpose. November/December 2012


Scotland Keith Robson Results from the Donaldson report are delayed but should address mentoring In January 2011 the Donaldson report Teaching Scotland’s Future was published. Prior to the Scottish Parliament’s summer recess, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning published the Scottish Government’s response to the report accepting in full or in part all of the recommendations. He also announced that a national partnership group (NPG) would be set up to take forward the recommendations. It’s now October 2012, as I write, and we’re still awaiting publication of the NPG’s report to the Cabinet Secretary. Of the 50 recommendations in the report, three directly related to mentoring: • Local authorities and national bodies should develop approaches to quality assure and improve mentoring. • Mentors should be selected carefully and

undertake training based on a recognition of the skills and capacities required for this role. • The responsibilities of individuals within the teacher induction scheme need to be clarified. Given the potential tension in the assessment and support function of mentors, all new teachers in Scotland should have access to a mentor and a supporter. ATL’s new publication Guide to Mentoring will be an invaluable resource for members regardless of whether they are probationers, mentors or prospective mentors. Mentoring is a good CPD opportunity. The current review of GTCS professional standards places an emphasis on teachers as leaders of learning across the school. Mentoring is one area where members can act as leaders of learning and ATL will be here to support you.


ATL’s new publication will be an invaluable resource for members

Wales Dr Philip Dixon ATL Cymru had a nasty shock when the FE/HE White Paper was published While there are certain details of the Welsh Government’s programme for education that we might dispute, most notably school banding, its general direction of travel is something that we support. State education remains the norm. There are no plans to set up academies or free schools and companies hoping to make a quick buck from education will find precious few opportunities to do so in Wales. The marketisation of schools is simply not part of the agenda. So when the contents of the FE/HE White Paper were published a few weeks ago we had something of a shock. They read like a blueprint for the ‘academisation’ of FE in Wales. ATL was particularly concerned about changes to governance that would give college governing bodies the sole say in their


dissolution and disposal of assets. Public assets could thus be sold to private adventurers. We were also perplexed as to why a proposed ‘code of governance’ was to be drawn up only by Colegau Cymru, the employers’ lobbying organisation. Greater autonomy for colleges could mean that staff see their pay, terms and conditions eroded and national agreements discounted. ATL Cymru has responded vigorously to proposals for FE colleges. We believe that the White Paper is completely out of kilter with the rest of the educational agenda, and think that some of its proposals are ill-informed. To sum up, we want to see an FE sector that is more democratically accountable, not less, and we will be working with all those who want to keep public assets public.


We want to see an FE sector that is more democratically accountable


join the debate / letters


Send your letters to: Report, ATL, 7 Northumberland Street, London WC2N 5RD or email The views expressed in the letters printed in Report do not necessarily reflect ATL policy or opinion.


Academic and proud I found the most recent Report (October 2012) to be generally very informative. However, one aspect made my teeth stand on end! I found the article on the proposed FE guild on page 5 and one word hit me: ‘vocational’. When will everyone realise that FE does not automatically equal vocational? What about the thousands of academic FE teachers, like me? I teach A-level biology in a bona fide FE college. I teach an academic subject, as do my colleagues who teach maths, English, geography, history et al. I am quite sick of being referred to under this ‘vocational’ title, and even more sick of being told I need to be made ‘professional’ by getting a teaching qualification, just like my mates in secondary schools. I’m sure the guild will point out where I went wrong when I gained a BSc (Hons) in microbiology, upper second class, followed by three years in ‘the real world’, in industry. I capped it off with a level 7 M-level PGDE. I am better qualified than many secondary teachers, yet heads in the compulsory sector look down their noses at people like me. Why? Because they keep reading that we are unprofessional, unqualified purveyors of vocational subjects. I apologise for my evangelical approach, but until the status of FE teachers and lecturers is placed on a par with secondary teachers, we will continue to suffer. I am paid less, have only 30 days’ holiday per year and have terms and conditions more closely resembling the workhouse than a teacher’s contract. I can be asked to teach foundation degree and HND students within the scope of my role as an FE science lecturer. How many of my secondary colleagues are expected to have subject knowledge to that level, level 4 and beyond? Yet I am still paid less and told I am not suitable to teach Year 7 to light Bunsen burners. The mind boggles. Only in education could such juxtaposition occur! Ah well. Such is the lot of the FE lecturer. Underpaid, underfunded and underappreciated. N Faulder, Lancashire


N Faulder wins £100 in book tokens. If you want to voice your opinion on any issues raised in Report or any other aspect of education, please send letters to the address above, including your phone number. One star letter will be chosen every issue to win the book tokens.

The wisdom of Gove I have to say I listened to Mr Gove’s speech [at the Conservative party conference] and felt there were things of merit to be considered. For example he quite rightly praised staff in free schools for working beyond their designated hours (which as everyone knows are 8.45am until 3.30pm) so that they could offer after-school activities and homework clubs. As he rightly acknowledged, this shows that they put the children first. What a revelation! I shall be November/December 2012

discussing this with my colleagues at the next staff meeting. We might even consider taking work home to mark and preparing for the next day if needs be. I eagerly await his next groundbreaking ideas — perhaps schools could organise residential visits so that staff work well beyond their designated hours. This would make up for the fact that we have all these holidays in which we do nothing school-related at all! Name withheld

Dinner manners I read John Sinclair’s article ‘Mind your manners’ (Report, October 2012) with interest. My late mother had many homilies, two of her favourites being ‘manners maketh man’ and ‘good manners cost nothing’. For most of my long career I have taught in independent schools where great emphasis was placed on manners and courtesy. In some schools pupils had to stand if a teacher or the head came into the classroom. Small courtesies were observed; for example a child holding a door open for an adult to be thanked politely, ‘thank you James, that is kind of you’. Table manners were also important. As teachers we often resented our precious time being taken up with ‘dinner duties’, which involved sitting at the head of a table supervising pupils at lunch. I can now see how good it was for children to have adult role models. In many schools now, however, most children bring a packed lunch. It is more difficult to encourage good manners when all the child has is a packet of Monster Munch and a banana. Manners and courtesy build mutual respect, which results in better behaviour in the classroom. Of course independent schools have their ‘interesting characters’ too, I have met plenty of them! Often the pupils who ‘act up’ are either the less-able ones who feel insecure, so see schoolwork as boring, or the more-able ones whose abilities are not being stretched enough. Often more-able children are genuinely bored if the teacher is catering only for the ‘great bulge in the middle’. I’m sorry John Sinclair was discouraged by weak leadership; I’m not a head myself but I could write a few more pages on ‘styles of leadership: heads I have known’! I do believe a school is as good as its head, who should set the standards for teachers and pupils. W Freeman, Anglesey


profile / Andrew Pollard

Consider the evidence ‘‘I

do think Michael Gove does sincerely believe that what he’s doing will make things better. I just think he’s wrong,” explains Andrew Pollard. “And all the evidence when you look at it rationally says he’s wrong.” As an assistant director with responsibility for research impact strategy at the Institute of Education, University of London, Professor Andrew Pollard knows a thing or two about gathering evidence in education. His recent experience as part of the expert panel advising Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove on the curriculum review showed him that while civil servants are highly committed, bright and professional, many of them do not have sufficient understanding of education. Pollard, along with fellow panel members Professors Mary James and Dylan Wiliam, left the expert panel after it became clear that the policies being produced were, he says, “not legitimate. They can’t really defend them as serving the interests of all our communities.” “I’m sure Gove gets a wide range of advice,” he continues, “but he does back his gut instincts. He has personal experience of succeeding through the [private] education he received. His experience reinforces this idea that all children should have access to powerful forms of knowledge and I think he’s got a very good argument there. “But it’s not just facts, which is how he tends to look at it. It’s powerful concepts that are the tools that help you to think creatively and underpin deeper understanding. “And then you’ve got schools’ role in supporting young people in becoming confident, cooperative, empathic. All those should be part of a curriculum. It’s dangerous to limit it to facts and to make it too prescriptive.” While Pollard believes in the importance of evidence, he emphasises that any decisions should be evidence-informed rather than evidence-dictated. “Values are always involved in education, but ministers have to be able to moderate them in the light of an open-minded engagement with evidence in a collective public interest. “That’s what our competitors are doing and one day we’ll get a government that

looks at it with a more open mind. Then we’ll start to make some progress. “All education systems that have made progress have had a national debate to build a consensus on the purpose of education. I told Michael Gove he could lead a fantastic debate. There wouldn’t be complete consensus but there would be a broad range of agreement. It would have made him more accountable. I don’t know why he chose not to do that.” Pollard headed the Teaching and Learning Research Programme, made up of almost 100 research projects over nearly 10 years, and £30 million of public funding, to produce, among other conclusions, 10 principles for teaching and learning. “We did that explicitly to provide a foundation for policy and practice. We’ve talked about it all over the world but trying to get politicians in this country to listen is very difficult. I’m not saying the principles are the right answer but we’ve offered evidence-informed principles on which you could base coherent policies that would work.” Pollard believes the English education system is becoming more coherent but is built on shaky foundations. “If you configure your system around misplaced principles, you have a large, misconceived, coherent education system,” he says. “Take Finland: they’re clear about how people learn and about the importance of teachers, and the principles are sound, and then they’ve built their coherent system. There’s an alignment between the evidence, the experience, the reality of learning and the system they’ve created. “What we’ve got in this country is fashions, ideas, priorities of ministers sweeping in and out, with a lack of principles and foundations and thus an education system that is fragmented, changing, and in which people simply have less and less confidence. While politicians talk about evidence from around the world, they studiously cherrypick it and then it collapses in a heap because they don’t do it in a balanced way.” Pollard cites the curriculum review as an example of this lack of balance, with the government starting from the idea of “organising and marshalling knowledge and having it taught at people”. He says: “If you started from how people learn, including the social, emotional, cognitive, developmental, and so on, you could support teachers to do that and then configure the knowledge you want to get through. November/December 2012


The government needs to pay more attention to evidence and learn to control its values when it comes to education, Professor Andrew Pollard tells Alex Tomlin



Governments should set frameworks then back off and let the profession work within them

“The government started with a very particular approach to harvest the knowledge from the three core subjects, so you’re already miles away from learning. You have to start from where the pupils are. It’s no use imagining if you just deliver it, it will happen.” This approach will have dire consequences for many pupils, Pollard predicts. “Social class differences are becoming more stark; there are large numbers of unemployed with compromised life chances while some others have many advantages. The gap is growing. “A pattern is emerging of policies that are not consistent with the rhetoric about reducing inequality, and, according to me, will lead to significant failures for many young people.” The overhaul of GCSEs is another example where Pollard believes tweaking the system would be more appropriate than dismantling it. He fears the changes signal a return to a norm-referenced system where only a certain number of students can reach a certain grade, and a certain number will also be guaranteed to fail. His alternative would be to keep the current criterionreferenced marking system but extend the grading at the top of the scale. “Because of the efforts of teachers and the success of the system, more people have reached those [higher] levels, and unfortunately that’s led to a crisis of confidence in the exams from the public,” he explains. He suggests setting the current grade ‘C’ as ‘Standard grade’ and then having seven positions above it up to ‘S7’. This could then be extended in time when increasing numbers of pupils reached that level. “You’d have to design the exams in a way to enable young people to demonstrate progress,” he concludes. “The principle of GCSEs is correct; it’s the implementation that’s faulty.” Another area where the government has moved too radically is in initial teacher training. “They’re pushing in a school-based direction and I’m not sure if they’ve got that November/December 2012


right. In most successful education systems they have the right mix of higher education institutions and classroom practitioners. The way forward is a combination of practice and analysis, with reflective activity bridging the two.” Reflective activity is a subject close to Pollard’s heart, having literally written the book on it, Reflective Teaching, now in its third edition. He believes it is a valuable method of improving both individual teachers of all levels of experience, and the system as a whole. “All people tend to do things in fairly routine ways, but you have to meet the needs of learners over time. So you do the job but you need to think about the job too every now and then, take a really open-minded look at what you’re doing. “The best way of doing that is to gather some evidence, get someone to observe, look at the comments you make in exercise books. Through that process we’re able to improve under the control of the profession, not anyone else. It should develop the status of the profession and outcomes for learners and is in my view a better method of improvement than divisive competition. “For many years governments have failed to take advantage of that idea, which you will find in Finland and other countries. You improve a system with a degree of trust but also challenge, and always working with teachers.” Pollard believes teachers need to be given the authority to make decisions. “You need the teacher to bridge the gap between the learner and the knowledge. They know the children they’re dealing with. If they know the curriculum well they can adapt it to present it to the children in the most appropriate way. It’s essential that teachers have significant autonomy. Governments should set frameworks then back off and let the profession work within them.” Despite his misgivings about the government’s role in education, Pollard still believes we need politicians to help us take decisions and that they enter politics to make a positive difference. Unfortunately, the need to win elections every five years creates a short-term mentality. “The political parties need things to argue about to differentiate. In order to show their macho, ‘I’m in charge’ persona, they need an area to fight over and poor old education has become that terrain. “But it’s everybody’s life chances and our future productivity and society at stake; it’s not a game. We should invite politicians to take a long-term view and talk to each other. Let’s get the things that really matter out of the political arena.”

feature / facebook venting


Out the door at three? Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw’s latest comment on the teaching profession elicited an angry response from ATL members


o stranger to controversy, Sir Michael Wilshaw riled teachers yet again with his recent suggestion that teachers should work overtime to be well paid. The ex-headteacher and now Ofsted chief inspector said in an interview with The Times: Jackie Owen: There aren’t any more hours in the day!

Andrew Frankish: I agree with [Wilshaw]. Pay teachers for the time they spend in school working. Then pay us overtime for the work we all do at home. Wouldn’t they get a shock, then, when the overtime sheets come in?

Hannah Ratcliffe: I am a trainee teacher in FE, and knowing how hard it is to work full time doing 12-hour days to pay for my course, and run a house, plan lessons, teach lessons, create resources; I was hoping it would be better once I was qualified and teaching full time… obviously not. Now I’m worried about my career move.

Yvonne Wiggins: How can a former headteacher have so little faith in the teaching profession? How removed from his staff must he have been when he can’t even see how hard and what hours every teacher in this country works?

“As a head I would make it clear that if you teach well or try to teach well, if you work hard and go the extra mile, you are going to get paid well. You are going to be promoted. Somebody who is out the gate at three o’clock in the afternoon is not. Isn’t that fair? Am I being unfair?” He added that teachers working in poor areas would not deserve a pay increase if

Mave Siddiqui: As an ex-police officer and now teacher I’m getting tired of people sat in fancy buildings telling us to work harder as though we don’t already do it.

Kirstie McAlpine: As a core subject teacher in an inner-city academy, I am already obliged to organise, plan and teach lessons outside of the very long school week (34 lessons) and during ‘holidays’ to meet the demands of the floor target. I cannot teach over 30 hours a week without many hours of planning and marking as it is. More money would be nice, but does not make the impossible possible. There is simply not enough time to do the things that the job requires in the way that Ofsted wants it done. Teachers are already breaking.

Ruth Veitch: Show me a teacher who doesn’t work past three! This does not help the public perception that teachers work 9-3 and have holidays every five weeks. I would happily give a video diary to show the reality.

Robert Waring: Is working the same hours as Ofsted’s inspectors an option? The plus side, if teachers have to leave at a specified time, after-school detentions will be shorter, the Christmas production can be abridged, and parents’ evenings… ‘Well Mr and Mrs Jones, I’d love to discuss your child’s progress, alas I have to go now, Wilshaw says so.’

November/December 2012

they did not wish to act as a surrogate parent to pupils who lacked support at home. “We just have to accept the reality of that,” he said. “If you are going to go and work in these areas, there has to be a commitment to working beyond the end of the school day.” ATL members took to ATL’s Facebook pages in droves to offer a response. Below is a small selection of them.

Christopher McMinn: I sat all summer making resources and he says we need to work more? Cut pensions, make us work longer hours, freeze pay, tell us we are rubbish, scare us by giving headteachers more power to sack, make it harder for younger teachers to gain experience, cut funding for training, make us work until we drop dead; have I missed anything? The attacks just keep coming. He forgets that without teachers he would never have made it to his ivory tower.

Shane Hurley: I’m an NQT who put in 80 hours last week (yes, 80). Where would my extra hours come from? Is it OK that I dedicate six and a half hours a night to sleeping, or is that too much? I actually felt guilty the other night because I spent a good 30 minutes eating my tea and went to bed at 11pm.

Viv Grant: Does he intend, by some miracle, to squeeze more hours into a day? Don’t most teachers already work way over and above their contractual hours?

Let us know what you think What would you ask Sir Michael Wilshaw if you could? Does anyone think he has a valid point? We are always keen to hear your views either through the letters page (details on page 17), on or

help and advice / legal

School closures

have notice claims and claims for unpaid wages. Notice could be either: • contractual notice, which in the independent sector is often one term’s notice • or statutory notice, which is one week after one month’s service and two weeks after two years’ service, with an additional week for each full year of service up to a maximum of 12 weeks.

Those working in the independent sector and in some state-funded schools should be aware of what happens if their school is forced to close. ATL solicitor Kehinde Adeogun explains


hose employed in schools need to be aware of their employer’s obligations and their rights in a situation where the business that runs the school becomes insolvent. It is a shock when an employer makes a sudden announcement that a school is to close due to financial difficulty. The situation is becoming more commonplace in these times of austerity as parents reassess family spending. This has led to pupils being removed from some fee-paying schools, causing pupil numbers to drop below viable levels for some schools to remain open. If you are confronted with a situation where you have been informed that your school is to close you should seek immediate advice from an ATL representative about your rights and your employer’s obligations. Where an employer is proposing to dismiss 20 or more employees in one establishment within a period of 90 days or fewer, that employer is under a duty to consult with any employees who may be affected by dismissal. The law sets out minimum periods for consultation; if there are 20 or more proposed redundancies then consultation must take place at least 30 days before the first dismissal takes effect. If 100 or more redundancies are proposed, consultation must commence at least 90 days before the first dismissal takes effect. Consultation must take place with the

recognised trade union or with elected employee representatives. Consultation should be meaningful and not a sham exercise. Consultation with unions or employee representatives and the school must include discussions about three things: 1. ways of avoiding dismissal 2. ways of reducing the number of employees to be dismissed 3. ways of mitigating the consequences of dismissal.

ATL can assist employees whose schools have closed without following proper procedure to bring claims for unfair dismissal, for failing to provide correct contractual or statutory notice, and claims for a ‘protective award’ if statutory consultation didn’t take place. If your employer has become insolvent then in certain circumstances the Redundancy Payments Office (RPO) will be able to make a payment to you of the following items: • Up to eight weeks’ arrears of pay. • Statutory redundancy pay, which at present is calculated as one week’s pay for each full year of service between the ages of 22 and 40 and then one and a half weeks’ pay for each full year of service from the age of 41. Statutory redundancy is paid using a maximum gross pay of £430. No more than 20 years’ full service can be taken into account to calculate a redundancy payment. • Payment for any arrears of statutory notice pay.

Although consultation must be meaningful the final decision on redundancies is the employer’s. Unfortunately, schools that are about to close do not always comply with their statutory obligation to consult before dismissing staff. This is often because a school does not want to alert competitor schools, its own staff or parents that the school is in difficulty and may have problems staying open. To do so may lead to an exodus of pupils and staff looking to move to a more stable establishment, causing the school to be in even greater difficulties. If your employer has notified you that your school is to close with very little notice and with little or no consultation having taken place, contact your ATL representative. If your school closes, employees with over two years’ continuous service may well have unfair dismissal claims and/or redundancy payment claims. All employees may also



ATL assists members to bring claims in an employment tribunal on behalf of employees whose employer has become insolvent. If the employment tribunal awards a sum for a protective award the RPO will be notified and may be able to make a payment in respect of that award. Payment of employment tribunal awards for compensation for unfair dismissal, contractual notice and enhanced redundancy, over and above the sums paid out by the RPO, will only be recovered if the liquidation of the school leads to assets that can be distributed to creditors, including employees. Claims from employees of companies that have become insolvent are treated as preferential debts. If you are aware that your school is to close please seek advice from your local ATL representative. November/December 2012

help and advice / contact


Help and advice If you need help with matters related to your employment, your first point of contact should be your school or college ATL rep, or your AMiE regional officer if you are a leadership member. You can also contact your local ATL branch for advice and support. If they are unable to help, contact ATL using these details:

Membership enquiries 020 7782 1602

General enquiries 020 7930 6441

Monday to Friday, 5-7.30pm during term time. ATL’s regional officials are available to speak to you about work problems.

Email: Website: London: 7 Northumberland Street, London WC2N 5RD. Belfast: 16 West Bank Drive, Belfast BT3 9LA. Tel: 028 9078 2020. Email: Cardiff: 1st Floor, 64B Newport Road, Cardiff CF24 0DF. Tel: 029 2046 5000. Email: Edinburgh: CBC House, 24 Canning Street, Edinburgh EH3 8EG. Tel: 0131 272 2748. Email: AMiE members: 35 The Point, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7QU. Contact your AMiE regional officer (contact details at or call the employment helpline 01858 464171. Email:


Pension enquiries 020 7782 1600 Out of office hours helpline 020 7782 1612

Personal injury claims 0800 083 7285 Call Morrish Solicitors LLP, ATL’s appointed solicitors, or go to This service is open to members and their families, subject to the rules of the scheme. ATL should be your first port of call in the event of work-related issues. If you feel you need emotional support, Teacher Support Network is a group of independent charities and a social enterprise that provides emotional support to staff in the education sector and their families. Their support lines are available 24 hours a day:

If you are not a member of ATL and would like to join, please contact us on 0845 057 7000 (lo-call) Remember to pass your copy of Report to colleagues who may be interested in it!

England: 08000 562 561 Wales: 08000 855 088 Scotland: 0800 564 2270

Terms of ATL’s support are outlined in our members’ charter, available via When emailing ATL from home, please include either your membership number or home postcode to help us deal with your enquiry more efficiently.

November/December 2012


help and advice / guide

Assessment for learning Now is the time to revisit ‘assessment for learning’ and put more emphasis on the ‘learning’ part, says education trainer and author Claire Gadsby


am not a gambling woman, but I would wager that all teachers will at least have heard of assessment for learning (AfL). Furthermore, I would bet that the vast majority would be happily using several of the more common AfL strategies such as traffic-lighting or peer assessment. For all this interest in AfL, things have not progressed as far as they might in the 14 years since Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black first coined the term. In a recent article in the TES Dylan Wiliam expressed disappointment about this and attributed it in part to too much emphasis on assessment and not enough on learning. Certainly, Ofsted’s most common finding is that assessment does not sufficiently inform teaching and learning. The time is right to revisit AfL, to move beyond some of the myths and to help busy teachers shift from a rhetorical understanding to full implementation in classrooms. The practical tips in this article are designed to help teachers to do this. Assessment for learning is defined as “part of everyday practice by students, teachers and peers that seeks, reflects upon and responds to information from dialogue, demonstration and observation in ways that enhance ongoing learning”. AfL is effective assessment practice that is applicable to all age groups and key stages and is something that has the unique potential to both measure and promote learning. It is based on the simple but crucial premise that learning is something

that can only happen in the heads of learners themselves and that learners must be active participants in their own learning.

How to make it work

Delete petite: Discreetly delete the objective word by word during the lesson and use these moments as opportunities to challenge learners to spot which words have disappeared, thus activating the objective regularly throughout the lesson. For example, with the learning objective ‘To be able to evaluate how writers use language and structural devices for effect’, begin by deleting the word “evaluate” and then challenging learners to remember and explain what was meant by this word. You could then increase the challenge by deleting further words. By regularly dipping in and out of the objective, you are effectively keeping the learning live for students. Challenge pupils to remember the complete objective correctly by the end of the lesson. Extra, extra: The absence of success criteria in many lessons has led me to think of success criteria as the ‘Cinderella aspect’ of AfL; the neglected relation with the potential to transform learning into something magical. A few minutes spent really exploring the success criteria with learners could be the key difference in terms of learners making progress. Give pupils a list of possible success criteria plus extras (more red herrings). Ask pupils to suggest which should be deleted and why. This activity involves the higher order skills of classification and analysis and ensures that pupils are challenged and involved from the outset. Rank-ordering activities: A quick and effective way to get even reticent pupils involved in discussions. When learners are involved in tasks that require them to prioritise information based on its relevance or interest, they are required to think critically. An example could be: “Look at these reasons why Macbeth might

consider killing King Duncan. Which do you think are most significant and why?” Four-by-four feedback: Research suggests that the average lesson is made up of between 70% and 90% teacher talk – this needs to decrease dramatically if learners are to make genuine progress. Try using a timer to reduce the amount of teacher talk in your lessons. Four-by-four feedback is a pedagogy for bringing feedback into the teaching itself. The title refers to the four activities of: exploring an anonymous/exemplar response; guessing the feedback/mark that would go with it (based on the success criteria); modelling how to improve it; and, finally, inviting learners to do the same with their own work. The spectacles of feedback: To really signal the importance of peer assessment, and the expectation that pupils should be assuming a different role, I encourage younger pupils to make and customise their own feedback glasses, using the 3D cardboard glasses as a template. Putting these on prior to assessing their own, or their partner’s, work really focuses attention and improves the engagement of learners. Tap into the talent in the room: Instead of the teacher providing input in the early stages, begin by drawing out what pupils already know by getting them to seek out information from each other. Challenge pupils to talk to six other pupils in order to find out six pieces of knowledge or ideas about a particular topic. This works especially well at the start of a new topic or as a revision activity. Claire Gadsby is an education consultant, trainer and coach working directly with schools and colleges. She is the author of Perfect Assessment for Learning. See November/December 2012

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Sadly, the correct answer is d. Bullying has a dramatic effect on children and young people, from a loss of confidence and the ability to concentrate to depression and, in some tragic cases, suicide. The Anti-Bullying Alliance is here to help. Through our School and College Network we’ll work with you, providing support and advice to help your school deal with bullying. Go to for details.




resources / info directory

ATL resources and training Working in an Academy In response to the growing number of members working in academies as both teaching and support staff, ATL has produced the Working in an Academy handbook, offering advice on employment rights.

This handbook addresses the main issues and difficulties encountered by ATL members working in the academy sector. It is written to provide general guidance and covers such issues as contracts of employment, rights and entitlements, redundancy and working hours, as well as providing model procedures.

Guide to Mentoring

ATL has commissioned guidance to help trainees negotiate their year of being mentored, and to help mentors fill this most crucial role. Written by Trevor Wright of the University of Worcester, a successful teacher for about 30 years and a trainer of teachers for about 15 years, the Guide to Mentoring looks at this unique relationship in detail. Starting from meeting each other and setting clear ground rules for the relationship, it also defines what each should expect from the other and ways of ensuring the trainee is given the best balance of

Your CPD with ATL Preparing for retirement: 1 December, York; 2 February, Bristol; 2 March, Manchester; 6 July, London Differentiation: practical tools: 13 December, York; 12 February, Manchester; 19 June, Bristol Taking care of behaviour in FE: 16 January, Manchester

independence and support. It offers practical ways of making sure each party knows where they stand, as well as advice on offering and receiving feedback, sample conversations, and giving the trainee an ‘offline coach’, a third party who can give advice without being involved in the assessment of the trainee. More specifically it offers support on helping with behaviour management, differentiation, learning theory and teaching standards. ATL Support

The ATL newsletter ATL Support has been sent out to all support staff members, and leads with two pieces of pensions news: auto-enrolment and an update on the Local Government Pension Scheme. There is also a farewell to Jenny Inglis, lead member for support staff, and a welcome to her successor, Debbie Polwarth, as well as new training dates and the rep awards. New2Teaching magazine

Practical solutions for dyslexia and dyscalculia in a primary school setting: 23 January, Birmingham; 16 May, London; 18 May, Nottingham

Strategic and operational leadership: 28 January to 4 March, online Understanding leadership and management in education: 5 February, London; 14 June, York Classroom assessment: structured, formative, negotiated: 19 March, London Managing teams: 22 March, York; 10 April, London Managing extreme behaviour: 17 April, Bristol Managing change: 22 April to 3 June, online Stop teaching me when I am trying to learn: 24 April, London; 22 May, Manchester There is a nominal charge for courses to minimise the number of members not turning up: £40 for all standard members, £20 for standard support members and NQTs. It is our expectation that employers should cover the cost of attending.

ATL’s guide to looking for your first teaching job, Apply Yourself, is being sent out to all student members who qualify between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013. This mailing continues until January 2013. Posters and postcards advertising the publication are also being sent to all reps and contacts. The publication can also be downloaded free from: /tzone/jobs/apply_yourself .asp. Teaching standards ATL has produced a new factsheet, Teachers’ Standards (England), offering information and advice on the new teaching standards, which are split into two parts: the standards themselves and personal and professional conduct. The standards have been introduced for teachers in England from September 2012 and replace the existing, more detailed, professional standards that operated as a backdrop to performance management.

How to order ATL resources There are a number of ways you can access the range of publications, newsletters and position statements ATL provides:

Taking care of behaviour: 28 January, online; 29 April, online; 6 June, York

Playing to learn: 6 March, York

Apply Yourself

ATL’s magazine aimed at students and newly qualified teachers has been sent out with this copy of Report and leads with advice on how to work effectively with support staff. It also looks at the impact of government policy and Ofsted on staff retention, changes to the induction process, tips on finding your first job and advice on appraisals and one-to-one situations with pupils.

Website: you can download PDFs of most of our publications or place your order using an online form via the ‘Publications & resources’ section of our website at Email: you can email your order using (quoting the product code, wherever possible) Telephone: you can phone our publications despatch line on 0845 4500 009 (quoting the product code, wherever possible).

November/December 2012


resources / classified To advertise here please contact Lisa on 01603 772521, or email Recruitment Teachers required to host and teach adults and/or teenagers from Europe, Russia and Japan in their home on total-immersion English language courses or GCSE/A-Level revision courses in maths, science and business/economics. A professional qualification is required, comfortable home and enthusiasm for sharing your language, culture and location. Short summer placements of 2-3 weeks are available and also year-round placement of 1-4 weeks. Good rates. Tel: 0117 9042483 or Email:

Resources Visit and see great diversity posters/resources/books to bring your classroom and wall displays to life. Please look in on our various themed galleries: Sport, motivational, science, Africa, special needs, anti-bullying, diversity etc. Great eye-catching, value for money posters. Tel/fax: 020 8691 4563. Mini catalogue available to view and download online.

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Performance and participation for children of all ages and abilities

Educational Suppliers We offer the latest digital and electronic resources, even if we do not usually stock the items you need, we will do our level best to source, supply and save you money. Call us free or email and ask our advice for a price or a product. Electronic Learning Devices: •Digital Cameras •Visualisers •Microscopes •Voice Recorders

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Mobile apps developed with Ann Fullick, empowers students as they become familiar with the technical language of science. Available on iPhone (Dec 2012) and FREE on BlackBerry now (limited offer)

November/December 2012

WIN £50 in Markser & Spencrs vouche

29 1

Prize crossword


Down 1 Living in school? Do bring a change! (8) 2 Not so much as a period of instruction – not on! (4) 3 Large tank contains tin — empty (6) 4 Senior pupil, he has a smashing body… (4,3) 5 …dead cute, maybe, but scholarly! (8) 6 Invariably includes part of an opera (4) 7 Chap tries reading aloud initially as aid to meditation (6) 14 To compose a letter is not wrong, we’re told (5) 16 After end of demo I went in front, well lubricated! (5) 18 One who carves out a living in the arts? (8) 20 Where schoolchildren get snacks for Friars dance? (4,4) 21 Free time — ie rules broken! (7) 23 Some submit a licence for a sloping type (6) 24 Grammatical case, as ‘4’ in ‘4th of July’, for example (6) 26 Charge levied to ring the bell? (4) 28 Graduate on steamship has fish (4)








Across 8 Put up with new role in London gallery (8) 9 University city had rum deal (6) 10, 11 and 12 Fan starts card design for 19th-century decorative movement (4,3,6) 13 In the end I’m with a dunce (6) 15 A small number turns up in new pilot scheme, but it’s not compulsory (8) 17 Opposed to a tasting with team leader missing (7) 19 Praise English article on French possessive — not before time! (7) 22 Make small adjustments to high-quality melody? (4-4) 24 Redistribute 5 minus 25% and arrive at a logical conclusion (6) 25 Devising a plot involving piano and computer… (6) 27 …heads of school information technology take an exam (3) 28 Fully occupied by going round America (4) 29 Bridge of Venice — new tailor (6) 30 Version I prepare as preparation for exams (8)












21 22










One lucky reader will win £50 in Marks & Spencer vouchers. Simply send your completed crossword, with your contact details (incl. telephone number), to: ATL Nov/Dec Competition, Archant Dialogue, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, Norfolk NR1 1RE. Closing date: 17 December 2012. If you have an ATL membership number, please include this _________________________________________________________________

Terms & conditions: Please include your full name, address and telephone number. The winner will be picked at random from the correct entries on 17 December 2012. The editor’s decision is final. No purchase is necessary. The prize is non-transferable. Employees of ATL and Archant are not eligible for the prize draw.

The winner of the October crossword competition will be announced on the ATL website. Congratulations to Sylvie Gummery, the winner of the September crossword competition.

November/December 2012

Last month’s solution – October 2012 Across: 1 Farmstead 6 Jacob 9 Gaffe 10 Ballpoint 11 Tart 12 David 13 Talc 16 Pensive 17 Sinatra 19 Eleanor 21 Trooper 22 Male 24 Adopt 25 Deal 29 Technical 30 Eerie 31 Cadet 32 Last rites Down: 1 Fight 2 Reference 3 Seek 4 Embrace 5 Dallies 6 Jape 7 China 8 Bath chair 14 Diana 15 Ingot 16 Pneumatic 18 Top-secret 20 Radical 21 Tipples 23 Lucid 26 Leeds 27 Knot 28 Hear


join the debate / final word

A chance to shine


An opportunity to take part in the school play, on stage or behind the curtain, can be a watershed moment for a child, says journalist and performer Yasmeen Khan

T Yasmeen Khan Yasmeen Khan is a journalist/ broadcaster and writer/performer. Her first play was performed earlier this year and she is currently working on two new theatre commissions. www.yasmeen Twitter: @yasmeenkhan1

wo memories stand out for me from my school days. One is that of the kindly looks I received as I was chosen last for any and every sports team. There was never any malice; I was just simply no good. Fortunately for me, this memory is eclipsed by that of trouncing the competition when it came to auditions for school plays. I had humble and relatively late drama beginnings — not a part in the nativity, but a chorus line Oompa-Loompa in the first year of junior school. Despite wearing an orange alien mask from the village toy shop and having no actual lines, I distinctly recall feeling that I had found an activity that felt right for me. As a child with an active imagination who was encouraged to learn to read early, I devoured every book I could get my hands on, loving to immerse myself in the fantasy worlds they offered. Being read to and reading aloud are viewed as two fundamental steps in childhood appreciation of literature and language. For me, third and equally as important is for children to be given

the opportunity to lift the characters off the page and inhabit the worlds they’ve been reading about. Teacher friends happily tell me that school plays are worth the often exhausting effort; children are united and feel motivated by being part of such a project. Doing drama gave me my first real sense of teamwork. True, not every child wants to perform, but there are plenty of roles for those who want to stay off stage yet still be an active participant. For me, not being in the netball team left only the option of sadly trailing the bibs and ball back to the changing rooms after a game. To be in a production, as leading lady or costume gluer, is often a child’s first opportunity to be part of a joint enterprise. Having your moment in the spotlight might be the most obvious advantage to taking part in the school play, but scratch the surface of that and the real aspect becomes clear; it’s not the chance to show off, but rather the chance to connect with an audience. Making people laugh, clap or cry is a joy that I’ve carried with me from those early days of treading the boards. As I performed comedy sketches for the first time a few years ago, I listened to the audience’s laughter and was momentarily transported back to narrating Pinocchio in my draughty school hall. Years later and the venue might have changed (though not that much when it comes to fringe theatre...) but the sensation of communicating with the audience still stands. While sport, music and many other extracurricular activities all have their obvious and multiple benefits, the merits of school plays should not be forgotten. Despite my encouraging start, I never had the opportunity to pursue youth theatre outside school, instead opting for acting lessons and focusing on the academic subjects at hand. It was those early days of performing in the school play, however, that ignited my passion for writing and acting. In writing recently about the topic for The Guardian, I was encouraged by the feedback of many who recalled happy memories of costume disasters, forgotten lines and fraught but proud teachers. It’s not that we’re hoping for an eventual Oscar-winner from every school, but the undeniable enjoyment, camaraderie, language skills and confidence that school plays can inspire are reason enough to never let the curtain go down on them for good. November/December 2012

Report November 2012  

Mentoring - Report looks at both sides of this crucial relationship